Director: Ken Wiederhorn
Cast: James Karen, Thom Mathews, Michael Kenworthy
Release Date: August 14, 2018
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 9/10
The zombies have returned! The horror begins again as mysterious barrels bounce off an Army transport as it passes through a new housing development and land near an abandoned cemetery. Mischievous neighborhood boys discover the barrels and open them, unaware of the evil contained within. A deadly green vapor escapes and turns the living into flesh-eating zombies and causes the dead to rise from their graves. As these hideous living dead hunt down the fresh human brains they need, man is pitted against man, and the living against the dead. It is a macabre struggle for survival!
The second entry in the delightfully goofy and amusing franchise (and well before things seemingly went off the rails with the fourth and fifth installments), ‘Return of the Living Dead Part II’ returns viewers to the world of functional, talking zombies once a group of nosy kids uncover another lost army canister and accidently unleash a new zombie plague. Initially released in theaters in January of 1988 and still managing to serve up plenty of fun after all these years, ‘Return of the Living Dead Part II’ was written and directed by Ken Wiederhorn and stars Michael Kenworthy, Marsha Dietlein and Dana Ashbrook, along with the return of the first film’s wacky duo once again portrayed by James Karen and Thom Mathews who play different, yet hilariously similar roles this time around.
Arriving on Blu-ray for the first time ever courtesy of Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory label, ‘Return of the Living Dead Part II’ comes home in all of its goofy, hilarious and splendidly ridiculous glory like you’ve never experienced it before; now finally on Blu-ray in marvelous high definition. The film’s Blu-ray debut serves up pretty wonderful high definition video and audio presentations of the feature film courtesy of a new scan, along with the option of viewing the movie with its original theatrical soundtrack which is a true treat in itself, making for a noticeably different experience as a result of the drastically different scores each provides. In addition to the solid video and audio presentations, this new Collector’s Edition release also delivers a noteworthy collection of bonus content which includes numerous brand new extras created specifically for this release combined with some old archival goodies. Featuring multiple Audio Commentary tracks, Interviews and plenty more (more detailed information regarding the bonus content can be found in the special features section of the technical specification coverage below) it should altogether make this one a definite must own for the fans thrilled to finally have the ability to own this fun sequel on Blu-ray at long last, and in this snazzy new Collector’s Edition release from Scream Factory that doesn’t disappoint.
Overall, diehard fans of this wonderfully ridiculous franchise can now fill in that pesky gap in their collection between the first and third entries. ‘Return of the Living Dead Part II’ arrives home at last for the first time ever available on Blu-ray courtesy of Shout Factory’s horror-focused Scream Factory label who also released a thoroughly impressive Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of the first ‘The Return of the Living Dead’ film last year (which you can read my review of here) and this Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of ‘Return of the Living Dead Part II’ definitely delivers as well. Providing rather impressive high definition video and audio presentations from a new scan of the film (as well as the option to view the movie with the Original Theatrical Soundtrack featuring the sequel’s original, intended score) and featuring hours of enjoyable bonus goodies to boot, this is certainly one satisfying release. For any fellow fans of the franchise, this one is definitely highly recommended.
The Scream Factory Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of ‘Return of the Living Dead Part II’ features a new full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio which the rear cover of the release mentions as a ‘2K Scan from the Interpositive’. Additional notes included on the rear of the interior case (not the slipcase) provide some additional information regarding the transfer, noting: “This new 2018 high-definition transfer was created in 4K resolution at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging on the Lasergraphics Director scanner from the original camera negative”. Most importantly of course, this new high definition presentation looks pretty fantastic and delivers a smooth, fairly clean and generally gorgeous presentation throughout. While also still retaining many welcome elements of its source material such as noticeable grain, and further boosted by a healthy bitrate for good measure. Overall, this is a pretty wonderful high definition video presentation that should easily please longtime fans of this horror comedy classic that have been anxiously awaiting its arrival on Blu-ray.
The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release features a 2.0 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack featuring the film’s newest, altered audio presentation which these days is the most common, in addition to a secondary 192kbps 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack that features the film’s Original Theatrical Soundtrack with many notable differences, particularly the drastically different musical score throughout and an opening narration. Both audio presentations sound rather great for what they are and offer fairly clean, sharp and smooth presentations. The DTS-HD presentation naturally offers a little more rich clarity and detail, yet the secondary Dolby Digital track still holds up surprisingly well making both worthy options. Overall, both the 2.0 DTS-HD MA and the Alternate 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtracks provide clean, sharp and generally well rounded presentations that should satisfy the fans; many of who will surely want to explore both at one point or another for comparison.
The Scream Factory Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of ‘Return of the Living Dead Part II’ features an impressive collection of supplemental material featuring numerous brand new extras created specifically for this release in addition to some archival bonus content. Included on the release are ‘3 Audio Commentary’ tracks, the first two of which are brand new. The first is an ‘Audio Commentary with Actress Suzanne Synder’; the second an ‘Audio Commentary with Gary Smart (co-Author of The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead)’ and the third is an ‘Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Ken Wiederhorn and Co-Star Thor Van Lingen’. We’re also treated to a collection of Behind the Scenes Featurettes and Interviews including a few brand new ones. The Included Interviews and Featurettes are: ‘Back to the Dead: The Effects of Return of the Living Dead Part II’ (running approximately 25 minutes in length), ‘The Laughing Dead with Writer/Director Ken Wiederhorn’ (running approximately 19 minutes), ‘Undead Melodies with Composer J. Peter Robinson’ (approximately 13 minutes), along with an ‘Interview with Troy Fromin’ (approximately 2 minutes), plus ‘They Won’t Stay Dead: A Look at Return of the Living Dead Part II’ (30 minutes), ‘Vintage Featurette – Live From the Set’ (6 minutes), ‘Behind the Scenes Footage’ (4 minutes) and ‘Vintage Interviews’ (3 minutes). Also included is the film’s ‘Teaser Trailer’ (approximately 2 minutes) and ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (2 minutes), plus a collection of ‘TV Spots’ (2 minutes combined) and ‘2 Still Galleries’; one for ‘Special Effects Makeup’ and another with ‘Posters and Lobby Cards’.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They additionally will suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Disc Rating: 9/10
‘Return Of The Living Dead Part II’ is Now Available to Own on Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory!