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More Brains! A Return To The Living Dead

More Brains! A Return To The Living Dead

By Patrick Samuel • August 24th, 2015
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Michael Perez Entertainment

Release date: October 18th, 2011
Running Time: 240 minutes

Director: Bill Philputt

Cast: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Jewel Shepard, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Brian Peck, Linnea Quigley

More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead

On Christmas Eve, 1896, Georges Méliès released a three minute silent film, Le Manoir du Diable (The Haunted Castle). Set in a medieval castle and depicting demons, ghosts and witches, it would go down in history as the world’s first horror film. In the years and decades that followed, horror films would form a genre that remained on the sidelines until one film came along and opened it up to the masses the same way Star Wars (1977) opened up sci-fi to the masses.

Return of the Living Dead (1985) was made as a sequel to George A. Romero and John A. Russo’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). Even though the pair parted ways they remained friends, reaching an agreement with Russo to retain the rights and use the title Living Dead in his films while Romero could use Dead in his. With a screenplay written by Dan O’Bannon based on the novel by Russo, Tobe Hooper would direct but he opted for Lifeforce (1985), leaving it to O’Bannon.

Released on August 16th, 1985, Return of the Living Dead, with its mix of gore, comedy and punk rock played out to packed cinemas where audiences watched how a group of misfits dealt with an onslaught of the living dead.

More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead is a documentary which looks back on the making of this landmark horror film. Clocking at 2 hours, it takes us back to 1985 with the original cast including Clu Gulager, Beverly Randolph, Thom Mathews, Linnea Quigley and Brian Peck, who also acts as narrator here, as they share their memories of what it was like auditioning, working with each other, in make-up and taking direction from O’Bannon.

More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead

It’s produced by the same team who brought us Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010), the definitive look back on the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, and Scream: The Inside Story (2011). Those documentaries offered a lot of insight on these much loved horror classics and the same is true here. After a wonderfully inventive animated intro we get right down to the gritty business of pre-production and the challenges faced with getting such a film off the ground at a time when studios were declaring horror as officially dead.

As production began, the actors weren’t quite sure what to make of the story either. What Russo came up with was so different from anything that had been done before on film, in horror and in a zombie film. We learn much about Linnea Quigley’s nude tombstone dance, the work that went into creating the look of the Tarman and the animatronics involved with operating the Half Corpse.

It wasn’t all roses and sunshine on set though. For starters, Beverly Randolph (Tina) recounts her difficulties in working with O’Bannon, John Philbin (Chuck) and Brian Peck (Scuz) hint at tension on set caused by Jewel Shepard (Casey) and Production More Brains: A Return to the Living DeadDesigner William Stout talks about William Munns being unable to provide the level of Special Effects Makeup required.

There’s not a lot of footage from the film included here, but that’s ok. It gives the documentary more time to explore all these other aspects and to show some behind-the-scenes footage and images fans have never seen before. In an age where so much of today’s horror films make-up and visual effects are hastily created in post production, More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead shows us how it was done back then with tubes, paint, various textiles and fake blood when it came to creating pieces like the half-dog cadavers and the reanimated butterflies.

Aside from its in-depth research, it’s also brilliantly narrated by Brian Peck who stays with us throughout. Anyone who’s a fan of horror, zombies and the Living Dead series should have this in their collection.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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