Just in time for Halloween, this little treat for your creepy stocking, or something. (I get my holidays a little mixed up.) Jam-packed onto one disk is the latest and greatest in zombibilia, this two-hour documentary covering nearly every aspect of the movie that you could possibly want, (and some you might not want) as well as another two-hours worth of extras. Yeah, you know you wanna party, and guess what? It's party time!
Rising like a slimy creature from the grave, this documentary follows the long dead documentary formula - not that I'm complaining or anything - it's just that there's not too much newness going on with the format. But if you're new, this is what you'll get, a bunch of stylishly dressed interview sequences mixed with clips, photos, and behind the scenes brouhaha. Nothing new, but these bones are nonetheless heartfelt, funny, casual, frank, and thoroughly entertaining for fans of the film.
Writer/ director Dan O'Bannon (R.I.P.) doesn't make an appearance, I believe having passed away just before these interviews were filmed, but his presence looms large. As you'll learn, this was a troubled production, and first-time helmer O'Bannon wasn't always able to handle things. Nonetheless he managed to squeeze out a movie both legendary and revolutionary, a horror-comedy that's neither one type of film pretending, nor the other in disguise; it's something that still feels effortless and new.
But as pretty much every member of the cast testifies, it wasn't all that effortless, and each actor still seems to be toting around one type of axe to grind, or another - though none actually bear any enmity to anyone. From last-minute cast addition Clu Gulager (Gull-uh-grrr) down to the make-up effects guy who got canned halfway into the shoot, there are many stories to tell, nearly all of them interesting and scandalous. Learn all you'd like to know about Linnea Quigley's famous crypt-topping striptease. Dig James Karen's urbane bemusement. Observe with curiosity Don Calfa's transmitted-from-Mars (with a little bit of malice) performance, and so much more.
What's great about all of these revelations - aside from the ghoulishly garish backdrops for each - is the form of silly acceptance everyone seems to have adopted. Many of the actors and crew would probably be forgiven if they either didn't want to appear in this doc, or still carried some ill will. What's revealed, however, can't be overlooked as one of the reasons ROTLD is still so successful: this is a great bunch of people. What's a little less successful is the clips-to-interviews ratio. Maybe it's down to the hefty length of this doc, but it seems as though there might have been a few more, or longer, behind the scenes clips; there might have been a deeper look into technical aspects, too, for this to truly be considered a 'definitive documentary'.
As documentaries go, this one shambles down the same type of path all the others do. Subject choice is everything, and this one scores by focusing on one of the most beloved zombie films of all time. It's even beloved by everyone who worked on it - they recognize it as a great, groundbreaking movie, even as it tried to break their backs and their spirits. The fact that everyone works out his or her feelings with such good-natured irreverence means that while everything you're treated to is intriguing, it's thoroughly entertaining as well. Run, don't shamble, to your video store today!
A Conversation with Dan O'Bannon: The Final Interview allows the man his preemptive rebuttal. Throughout the course of this 29-minute interview you'll find O'Bannon was basically on the same page as everyone else; only his status as a newly minted, inexperienced wunderkind made interfacing with cast and crew difficult. But maybe that's just O'Bannon looking back fondly. You'll look at this interview fondly - if not with mild shock - as well. Fourteen Deleted Scenes from the doc burn about 15 minutes or so. Sadly, they don't come with a 'play all' option, so you'll need to keep remote in hand. Stacey Q Live! Exclusive "Tonight" Music Video is there for those in love with this song from the movie. Hell, Stacey Q even appears in the main feature!
Resurrected Settings: The Filming Locations Today is, frankly, a stupid ten minutes rescued by our charming tour guides Beverly Randolph and Brian Peck. I mean, when you're revisiting a location that is impossible to see because there's a huge fake cemetery wall concealing the actual location, you might as well be revisiting a sound stage, right? Return of the Living Dead in 3 Minutes is a little bit more silliness, with cast members reciting lines both memorable and not-so, which take us quickly through the arc of the movie. A Trailer for the documentary, and a Teaser for that Elm Street Legacy thing everyone loves so much finish off the package of extras.