Return of the Living Dead II (1988)

Written and directed by Ken Wiederhorn
Produced by Tom Fox, William S. Gilmore, Eugene C. Cashman
Starring Michael Kenworthy, James Karen, Thom Mathews, Dana Ashbrook, Marsha Dietlein, Suzanne Snyder, Philip Bruns, Thor Van Lingen, Jonathan Terry, Jason Hogan, Sally Smythe, Don Maxwell

Ken Wiederhorn’s vocal distaste for horror movies presumptively correlates with the inferiority of his contributions to that genre, such as this sufferingly stupid, substandard sequel to Dan O’Bannon’s riotous, repellent trash classic. Juvenile delinquents (Lingen, Hogan) from a cluster development open another misplaced Army barrel containing a rotting zombie and that insidiously zombifying gas, which reanimates a graveyard’s interred so that they can rise to feast on locals. Wiederhorn’s guidance is at best indifferent, which is more than can be said of his idiotic script populated by nonsensical numskulls. Bawling Karen and Mathews again eke some comedy playing graverobbers, and perennially animate Ashbrook optimizes a heroic installer of cable TV. Don Calfa would’ve done likewise in the dispensable part of a local physician, had he not been rejected in favor of bugging Bruns, who’s not quite so rankling as strident Snyder in her assault on eardrums as Mathews’s whining girlfriend. Terry reprises his curt colonel to little effect, because he’s pointlessly foreshortened. Every reference to the previous feature falls flat, often reminding one of its more realistic and effective SFX. Why did Tom Fox employ a man who was fully and admittedly unsuited to oversee a sequel of commercial promise? For his apathy, Wiederhorn was rightly resented by a cast and crew who mostly outshone him. As often as not, association trumps ability on the west coast — hence the wasteful existence of this trash.

Instead, watch Dawn of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, 28 Days Later, or The Battery.

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