Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)

Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)

They will Eat your Brains Out!

When the last of the Trioxyin 5 barrels are discovered in the attic of his recently-deceased uncle, Julian takes it to his friend, Cody, at the college science lab for further examination. Cody discovers that the toxin causes an ecstasy-like effect on the user and decides to cash in by selling the drug to a local dealer for distribution. What he doesn’t realise is that prolonged exposure to the toxin turns people into zombies and the Halloween party is going to turn into a night they will never forget.

 

Made at the same time as the previous instalment, Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave is pretty much a continuation of that film from every point of view – plot, characters, dialogue, effects, etc. The surviving characters all return but for some unknown reason, they never mention anything that happened to them in the earlier film. They don’t recognise zombies when they see them. They don’t know how to kill them. Even the main character, Julian, looks upset at the news of his uncle’s death – despite the fact he tried to kill them all and turn them into zombies in the last one. I don’t honestly see the point of bringing these characters back if you’re not going to use them as reference to the previous film. So what we’re left with is basically another reboot of the series, only this is one boot that has worn out quickly.

I don’t even know where to begin without repeating myself from the last review. Basically if you liked Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis then you could get away with this one. If you weren’t overly keen on it, then you’re not going to like this one. There’s just not a lot of difference between the two. The film is still unbelievably silly in terms of the characters, the script and the plot. Only this time, even the last ounces of seriousness have been whittled away, leaving bad jokes and weak comic moments to overrun and turn the thing into some juvenile mess. American Pie meets Night of the Living Dead if you like. The original trilogy managed this mix of comedy and silliness and also managed to be pretty nasty and scary at times so why the difference? It’s clear that very few of the crew saw the original, especially the writers. They basically re-write the rules of this series, meaning that the zombies are no longer indestructible but can be taken out with bullets or, in the case of the last film, a flurry of hard-hitting right hands.

The zombies still have the habit of biting skulls from behind instead of gouging necks or just plain old limb-ripping. I wondered in my previous film whether or not the effects guys actually knew any other method of having zombies attack their victims and I seem to have been proven right. Again the skull-attack is over-done and by the time the fifth or sixth one happens, you’ll yawn and look at your watch in disgust. The zombies themselves look even worse than before, sometimes walking slowly and other times attempting to the do the 100m sprint. The only purpose this serves is for lazy screen writers to build certain scenes in different ways and not even attempting to explain the difference. Trying to hide from incoming zombies by opening a locked door? Well it’s no good if the zombies run towards you – they have to slowly amble their way to you to build tension. It’s stupid and insulting at times. Have these writers never seen the original or the sequels? Actually one of them has.

In a mildly amusing nod to the original, the ‘Tar Man’ zombie from the canister makes an appearance. Unfortunately it’s a little too pointless to be worth watching for. The zombies are background characters for most of the film too, a crime when you’re a zombie film. It’s only the finale at the rave where the zombies finally get to do some damage.

The ‘comedic’ Romanian secret agents are a lame addition to the film. They’re not funny despite repeated attempts to turn them into bumbling numbskulls. They have a ropey grasp of English at best so even their vocabulary is butchered worse than the script surely intended. Surely a favour to someone if I ever saw one? The actors reprising their roles from the last one manage to be even more annoying than before, with grinning Peter Coyote hamming it up even more in his brief cameo at the beginning. As I said earlier, it’s pointless bringing some of them back when they don’t out their experience to good use.

The new additions are all dodgy Eastern Europeans too. Enough with filming abroad. I’m sick of it already! If you’re going to film abroad, please make sure the cast can speak English and speak it fluently. Even though they take up the ‘no effort required’ roles of stoners, sluts, etc. it would still be nice to understand what they were saying and feel a bit of attachment to the main characters before their eventual doom.

 

Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave is worse than the previous one by a long way. To me these two sequels never felt like I was watching a continuation of the series. Like the modern Hellraiser films, it’s almost like some random zombie films got made and then were slapped with the Return of the Living Dead tag to sell some more copies. The words formulaic, dreary and pointless spring to mind when I think of this film.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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