A zombie classic is born! The Return of the Living Dead begins with a direct reference to George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Apparently some of the zombies from that plague were packed in barrels that were filled with a mysterious liquid. [Zombie pickles? Fantastic!] When two bumbling employees discover them in a medical supply warehouse they not only bring one back to life but unknowingly launch a new zombie apocalypse. The new zombies are a little bit different from the original models. Unlike their shambling elders, these zombies move quickly like those in 28 Days Later and also have a specific craving for brains instead of flesh. The result is a thrill ride that is both gory and funny.
ROTLD sports a somewhat cheesy 80's soundtrack but it does have a few good songs along the way. The mix of comedy and gore is near perfect and the special effects are solid for 80's standards. The cast of teens is a bit over the top in terms of typecasting but it suits this film just fine. The main actors, especially James Karen [Poltergeist, Joyride] and Clu Gulager [Feast series] are great and understand how to make the comedic aspects of this film work. The rest of the cast is solid as well, even though many are simply hors d'oeuvres for the zombie buffet.
ROTLD launched many sequels and solidified the reputation for zombies to be brain munchers. It also provided some of the inspiration for making Shaun of the Dead (2004) which is definitely my all-time favorite zombie horror comedy. Definitely watch ROTLD if you have any love for zombies at all.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.