The Return of the Living Dead takes place in Louisville, Kentucky where Uneeda Medical Supply provides skeletons, cadavers and taxidermied animals to local schools and hospitals. Frank (James Karen) is breaking in new hire Freddy (Thom Mathews) and we learn that the zombie movie Night of the Living Dead was based on true events and that Uneeda has some of the creatures in storage downstairs. The dim witted duo go to take a look at the frozen subjects, housed in Army Corp. of Engineers designed tombs but they end up springing a leak. Trying to contain the situation, owner Burt (Gulagher) doesn't want to call the police or army and decides to ask neighbor Ernie (Don Calfa) to incinerate a resurrected cadaver in his mortuary. Unfortunately the resulting smoke goes into the clouds, comes back down with rain and raises a cemetery's worth of brain hungry zombies where a bunch of Freddy's friends are waiting to pick him up after work. 80's greatness follows as the surviving humans barricade themselves in, try to find a way to kill the zombies and escape. There's laughs, scares, brains, blood, tits and synth galore from writer/director Dan O'Bannon with story assists by Rudy Ricci, John A. Russo and Rusell Streiner.
After the film a MAMMOTH panel was introduced by our film historian moderator David Del Valle that included actors Clu Gulager, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Thom Matthews, Brian Peck and Jewel Shepard, production designer William Stout and I believe documentary producers/authors Gary Smart and Michael Perez as well as make up artist Kenny Meyers. It was a bit of a warbled affair as Del Valle didn't introduce anyone or their role in the film then asked the 10 person panel how they met Dan O'Bannon and what it was like to work with them.
- Thom Mathews auditioned a couple of times and calls Living Dead the best experience he ever had on a project.
- Meyers was brought in last minute as previous f/x man was fired. O'Bannon screamed at Perez not to tell him "no problem". As that what was the last guy kept saying.
- Stout believes that O'Bannon and George Lucas changed cinema by finding production designers who came from other arenas of art and not just architecture.
- Jewel Shepard met O'Bannon in a strip club where she worked and was offered role of Trash. But Shepard was tired of playing the naked girl and ended up as Casey instead.
- John Philbin auditioned half a dozen times, didn't think O'Bannon liked him.