Return of the Living Dead Part II

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Return of the Living Dead Part II
Directed by Ken Wiederhorn
Produced by Eugene C. Cashman
Tom Fox
William S. Gilmore
Written by Ken Wiederhorn
Starring James Karen
Thom Mathews
Dana Ashbrook
Marsha Dietlein
Phil Bruns
Michael Kenworthy
Music by J. Peter Robinson
Cinematography Robert Elswit
Edited by Charles Bornstein
Distributed by Lorimar Pictures (theatrical release)
Warner Bros. (DVD release)
Release dates
  • January 15, 1988 (1988-01-15)
Running time 89 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6,200,000 (estimated)
Box office $9,205,924 (USA)

Return of the Living Dead Part II is an American zombie horror comedy film that was released in 1988.[1] It was written and directed by Ken Wiederhorn. The film was released by Lorimar Motion Pictures on January 8, 1988, and was a minor box office success, making over $9 million at the box office in the United States against its $6 million budget. It is the first of four sequels to The Return of the Living Dead. This film has a lighter tone as it was partially aimed at a teenage audience; however the misleading trailer suggested it was darker. The main protagonists, Jesse and Lucy, share the last name 'Wilson', giving the cult fans a clue that they are related to Burt Wilson, the main protagonist of the first film.


The story begins with a military truck transporting barrels of Trioxin, the soldier driving the vehicle through a downpour is unaware when a barrel breaks loose and falls into a river. The next morning a young boy called Jesse Wilson is at the cemetery with 2 local bullies, the trio investigate the Trioxin tank they find at which point Jesse tells them they should not tamper with the tank. They trap Jesse in a derelict Mausoleum and leave him. The bullies then return to the trioxin tank and manage to release the toxic gas. At this point a van pulls up to the graveyard introducing the characters Ed, Joey and Brenda. Ed explains to Joey they are here to rob graves of their valuable possessions, Brenda expresses her fears for Cemeteries but Joey assures her it will be worth their time and leaves Brenda in the van and heads into the cemetery with Ed. Deciding they'll rob the loot from the Mausoleum they open the locked doors releasing Jesse who immediately runs away home. Jesse returns home and watches his older sister Lucy doing aerobic exercises to a work-out video, she tells Jesse to do his homework or he will be grounded.

Later into the night a cable technician arrives at the Wilson house to install cable TV, as he enters Jesse manages to sneak out the backdoor and heads to one of the bullies' houses (Billy) upon arriving Billy's mother tells Jesse of Billy's illness and allows him in briefly. Jesse is shocked to see the effects of the Trioxin that is making Billy ill. Billy whimpers to Jesse not to tell what they've found but is interrupted by his mother who asks Jesse to leave. Jesse makes his way to the sewer drains again to further examine the Trioxin tank, he finds a phone number for the military but is attacked by a zombie covered in tar who has escaped from the tank. Jesse flees to the cemetery and witnesses a hand reaching from one of the graves, he runs home before they climb from their graves. At this time Ed and Joey are still inside the Mausoleum and witness a zombie awakening from its tomb they club him with a crowbar which has no effect. Outside in the dark a worried Brenda enters the cemetery unaware of what is going on she is spooked from a zombie approaching her and tries to flee only to be stopped by a zombie that has creeped up on her from behind, she punches him, crushing his face and runs deeper into the graveyard. Brenda meets up with Joey and a frantic Ed and they escape to the streets where they meet Billy's Parents and warn them of the zombies before fleeing. Jesse returns home to an angry Lucy who chases him into their parents bedroom, he locks the door and calls the military for help and is placed on hold.

Outside Joey, Ed and Brenda steal Tom's van and accidentally knock over a zombie into a telephone pole disconnecting Jesse's call, they are threatened with a gun by Billy's father who is then attacked by the supposedly dead zombie. The streets are now flooded with zombies and the traumatized group run to the Wilson house for refuge. After they enter an argument occurs over what is happening, Joey and Ed show symptoms much similar to Billy. Jesse assures everyone that they're zombies and that Dr Mandel (neighbor) can help them all escape. Billy's mother leaves her house and sees her husband being eaten by a group of zombies she quickly returns to her house removing her glasses and is then killed by a now zombified Billy. Jesse and his group make their way to the Doctor's house and get trapped in his garage. Zombies break their way in but they escape with the doctor in his car. Tom drives through a hoard of zombies knocking one right onto the car roof. During their journey the zombie reaches in through the open window only to have his hand cut off, they are attacked by the zombie's hand before it is thrown from the window.

Arriving at a deserted hospital Joey and Ed's health worsens. Jesse, Lucy and Tom leave to get more ammunition and guns from their uncle's home after realizing there is no help. Dr Mandel tells Brenda that Joey and Ed are more or less dead, she disagrees heavily with this and calls him a "Quack" and leaves with a dying Joey, Ed however follows much to Brenda's annoyance. They are stopped by three military men wielding guns. Ed attacks one eating his brains and the two remaining soldiers drive off leaving a helpless Brenda. Ed is occupied with eating his victim so Brenda uses this opportunity to ditch the zombified Ed and escapes with Joey. In the car Joey transforms into a zombie, Joey confesses he wants to eat Brenda's brains and attacks her, she escapes unhurt from the car and bumps into a dazed zombie she manages to get her hand trapped in his mouth and rips his jaw from his face. Joey runs towards her and chases her into an empty church explaining that he wants her spicy brains, Brenda retaliates by saying "I'm not into dead guys!" Joey explains that he loves her and seeing no other option Brenda allows him to eat her.

The others return to the hospital and collect Dr. Mandel they devise a plan to lead the zombies with frozen brains to a power plant and electrocute them all. After arriving at the plant they place brains into puddles of water with electrical wires in each puddle, zombies manage to ambush them after Billy opens the large entry gates. Lucy and Tom hide into the back of the truck and zombies begin breaking their way through the truck's door. Jesse who is now inside the plant is attacked by Billy and stabs him with a screwdriver. Jesse activates the power, killing all of the zombies, at this point Billy walks in holding the screw driver and pushes Jesse onto a control panel, while this is happening, a large transformer falls through the roof, Dr Mandel distracts Billy by telling him his fly is open, at which point Jesse kicks Billy into the transformer and electrocutes him as well. As Jesse, Lucy, Tom and Dr. Mandel leave the plant the military arrive to clean up the bodies with flamethrowers.


  • Michael Kenworthy as Jesse Wilson
  • Thor Van Lingen as Billy Crowley
  • Jason Hogan as Johnny
  • James Karen as Ed
  • Thom Mathews as Joey
  • Suzanne Snyder as Brenda
  • Marsha Dietlein as Lucy Wilson
  • Hanala Sagal as Aerobics Instructor (as Suzan Stadner)
  • Jonathan Terry as Col. Glover
  • Dana Ashbrook as Tom Essex
  • Sally Smythe as Mildred Crowley
  • Allan Trautman as Tarman
  • Don Maxwell as George Crowley
  • Reynold Cindrich as Soldier
  • Philip Bruns as Doc Mandel
  • Mitch Pileggi as Sarge
  • Art Bonilla as Les (as Arturo Bonilla)
  • Terrence Riggins as Frank
  • James McIntire as Officer
  • Larry Nicholas as Jesse's Double
  • Forrest J Ackerman as Harvey Kramer (Special Zombie) (as Forrest Ackerman)
  • Douglas Benson as Special Zombie
  • David Eby as Special Zombie
  • Nicholas Hernandez as Special Zombie
  • Derek Loughran as Special Zombie
  • Annie Marshall as Special Zombie
  • Richard Moore as Special Zombie
  • Steve Neuvenheim as Special Zombie
  • Brian Peck as Pussface' Zombie; 'Thriller' Zombie; 'Jaw' Zombie; 'Eye-Pop' Zombie; Zombie on Car Roof
  • Eric Clarke as Zombie (uncredited)
  • Bobby Porter as Zombie Kid (uncredited)
  • Dana Vitatoe as Zombie (uncredited)


Released on Island Records in 1988.

  1. "Space Hopper" by Julian Cope
  2. "High Priest of Love" by Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction
  3. "I'm the Man (Def Uncensored version)" by Anthrax
  4. "Big Band B-Boy" by Mantronix
  5. "Monster Mash" by The Big O
  6. "Alone in the Night" by Leatherwolf
  7. "A.D.I./Horror of It All" by Anthrax
  8. "Flesh to Flesh" by Joe Lamont
  9. "The Dead Return" by J. Peter Robinson

DVD release[edit]

The film was released on DVD in 2004, containing a heavily altered soundtrack. The only way to watch it with the original soundtrack is when one watches the film with the French audio track.

Actress Marsha Dietlein was asked in an August 2012 interview if the film would receive a newer and perhaps "special" DVD release, as was recently done for the first installment in the franchise. "I wish they would do a retrospective, but I haven't heard anything about it," she said.[2]


  1. ^ J.C. Maçek III (2012-06-15). "The Zombification Family Tree: Legacy of the Living Dead". PopMatters. 
  2. ^ "ReLiving the Living Dead: An Interview with Marsha Dietlein" on the Cheerleaders vs. Redneck Zombies website (

External links[edit]