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Book Review

Book Cover

The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead


Authors: Christian Sellers and Gary Smart
Plexus Publishing
RRP: £16.99, US $24.95
ISBN: 978 0 85965 460 9
Available 25 February 2011

The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead is a good quality and well-presented A4-size softback book, written by Christian Sellers and Gary Smart, and published by Plexus, London. Across 288 pages of interviews, features, reminiscences and full colour photos, it details the stories, both in front of and behind the camera, of this quirky but graphically violent zombie horror film franchise.

This is the second review in succession in which I’ve mentioned the work of the late Dan O’Bannon. After being fully involved in both acting and behind-the-scenes in John Carpenter’s Dark Star, O’Bannon went on to write the script for the Classic SF movie Alien. Little did he know that his little story would begin a multi-million dollar franchise. He would later hop between Hollywood blockbusters and low budget flicks. One such example of the latter is The Return of the Living Dead. O’Bannon decided that, rather than make a direct sequel to George A. Romero’s cult classic The Night of the Living Dead (Romero was already doing that himself), he would go in a totally different direction and have fun with the concept. This was years before it became common and in vogue to parody this horror sub-genre.

This book is a very easy read, and structured in a time linear format which makes for a smoother ride. There are a number of anecdotal interviews, the subjects of which all seem genuinely pleased to have been a part of this franchise. There are plenty of colour photographs, many of which have never been published before. Although the material is clearly comic, this is not for the faint-hearted. The pictures alone are gruesome and inventive. I believe I’ve seen the first two of these films, but I’ll be honest and admit it was a long time ago and I can’t remember too much about them - except perhaps for that infamous throw-away Michael Jackson Thriller moment at the end of Part II.

Proof of a project well done came, when only perusing the book, I actually found myself looking forward to sitting down and reading it from cover to cover when time permits. It kind of drew me in with its jaunty air and its enthusiasm. I’m not a real fan of zombie films, but now I want to remind myself of what all the fuss was about. Is there a box set available?


Ty Power

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