Reviews
Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005) 1 brainhalf brain
(USA)

It's hard to imagine a movie series like Return of the Living Dead having much in common with a movie series like The Lord of the Rings, but there is at least one thing: each series shot more than one movie simultaneously, in the same place, with the same actors, and with the same character names. This is the fifth movie in the ROTLD series, and this and the fourth were both shot in Bucharest. Now this might not be a bad thing, but here's the catch: the characters in the fifth movie don't seem to have any knowledge of the events of the fourth movie. Now to be honest I haven't seen the fourth movie. Maybe it ends with none of the main characters dying, and all of them getting hit by a memory eraser like they have in Men in Black. Maybe they were all killed off in the last movie, but someone preserved their genetic material to make clones of all of them. Or maybe the filmmakers decided that hey, they were making a budget horror film, and why not make two for the price of one? I still really don't get it. But that's not really the main concern as much as that the movie is awful.

The movie starts with Uncle Charles (Peter Coyote) from the fourth movie trying to sell barrels of trioxin to some mobsters. For those who haven't seen the series, trioxin is the stuff that changes people into zombies. The deal goes bad, and Uncle Charles is killed. His nephew Julian (John Keefe) discovers more barrels of trioxin in his uncle's house after the funeral, and brings it to a science friend of his, Cody (Cory Hardrict), to analyze. Cody and his drug dealer friend aren't sure what it is, but they discover that the drug gets you higher than a kite, and they decide to make it into pill form and sell it. The drug circulates throughout campus fairly quickly, and the major zombie breakout coincides with the big rave being held on Halloween night.

The movie is plagued by the usual budget-movie woes: bad acting, illogical plot lines, and terrible dialog. The torture is somewhat relieved by decent makeup and the presence of two Interpol agents, I think a Russian agent and an Italian one, who are trying to track down the missing barrels of trioxin. I wish that these two actors had been in the movie more, since they could actually deliver lines and seemed to realize what kind of movie they were in. I also wish I could tell you who they were, but unfortunately I don't remember their characters' names.

The real tragedy is that this is connected to the first three movies of the series, and it has very little if anything of what made those movies entertaining. It lacks the wit and tongue-in-cheek attitude of the first two movies, nor does it have the personal drama of the third. For die-hard fans of the series, it also breaks some of the zombie laws established in the first two movies (so did The Return of the Living Dead 3, but there was basically only one very special zombie in that movie), so be forewarned. Zombies aren't killed in the same way, and in general don't seem to behave in the same way. This is basically someone cashing in on the franchise, not once, but twice, with minimal attention to continuity.