Raiders of the Living Dead (1986)

Raiders of the Living Dead (1986)

They are evil. They are dead. They are ravenous…

A newspaper reporter hears of mysterious goings-on on a remote island and sets off to investigate, only to find a mad scientist creating zombies from the bodies of inmates at the local prison.


Reviewers like me quite often joke around about “taking one for the team” whenever we’ve watched something truly appalling. We try and warn others about certain films but in doing so we create some sort of reverse psychological fan base where people instinctively decide to check out films we rip to shreds just to see what all the fuss was about. So what’s the use?

Definitely up there in the short list of “the worst film I’ve ever seen,” Raiders of the Living Dead is just so awful that it is hard to know where to start. The cover art misleads greatly. The blurb on the back describes “zombie hunting” but there is none to be found until the final ten minutes and even then you’d probably get more gore in a children’s TV show like Goosebumps. Even the trailer on the disc makes this look like a Zombie Flesh Eaters style gore-a-thon.

One of the problems (of which there are too many to cover in a short review like this) is that there is no particular story and structure holding everything together. The film opens with a plot about a hijacker who takes control of a nuclear power station and a SWAT team is sent to deal with him. The story then abandons that part in favour of the kid fixing his granddad’s laser disc player and turning it into a laser beam (frying his poor hamster in the process). Then this story is abandoned in favour of the newspaper reporter plot. It’s completely all over the place and it is like trying to sit through three short films badly edited together. It’s a good thirty minutes before we even get a hint that this features zombies and even then its nearly the finale when the zombies finally start to do anything remotely ‘zombie-like’ by attacking people.

Even with these numerous sub-plots heading off on tangents, it is clear that the film is padded out beyond belief with filler. We watch an oil tanker drive off into the distance for far longer than we need to see. Trust me, it is an exciting as it sounds. The best part of the film is when two of the characters head to the local theatre for a movie date and watch one of The Three Stooges classic comedy shorts, Disorder in the Court. Thankfully we get to see some Stooge footage which instantly gives this film marks that it doesn’t deserve.

There is very little dialogue for a lot of the film and that’s probably a good thing judging by how bad the acting is. But everything here is from the bargain basement section: the acting, the script, the production values, the make-up, the special effects……The action is non-existent. There are no scares. There’s no atmosphere. Characters have no motivation, reason or even proper identity – it’s just a random selection of people we know nothing about. There’s just nothing here at all. Zip. Zilch. Nill. Zero. Nought. Nothing. Raiders of the Living Dead is a jumbled mix of scenes slapped together, trying their best to work as a cohesive unit but ending up a boring mess in the process. Hell, you know what…..this review is over. The more I think about the film, the more it infuriates me.


Raiders of the Living Dead is hard to even class as a film. With a ridiculously juxtaposed title (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Night of the Living Dead anyone?), Samuel M. Sherman has provided cinema with one of the worst examples of its hundreds of years of history. Nothing makes a jot of sense. The art work, the characters, the story……how do films like this even get made when hundreds of promising film makers get their dreams shattered every year through lack of funding? I know it is from the 80s but still, every decade has budding film makers waiting for an opportunity yet its stuff like Raiders of the Living Dead which manages to break free of the system. It’s a travesty.





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