In fact, it’s less a sequel than a remake or reboot by the modern definition, in that Wiederhorn tells ostensibly the same story but with different particulars. What’s strange is how he includes actors from the first movie; they play different characters this time, but on the surface, they’re playing the same roles. Moreover, other actors play roles similar to those originated in the first movie, such as the morbid mortician from the original who is replaced by the wacky doctor in the sequel, or the famous “Tarman” zombie appearing in both. None of it makes much sense in terms of continuity, but it’s pretty darn entertaining all the same.
Still, there’s fun to be had with Return of the Living Dead Part II, and a few memorable moments too. There’s the scene in which the zombified Billy (Thor Van Lingen), Jesse’s bully, receives a hug from his mother, and he takes a bite out of her skull—seeing this as a child, that moment put me off hugs for a while. Or consider the absurdly funny moment where Joey, hungry for brains, manages to convince his way-too-devoted girlfriend to give him a taste of her brains. And finally, look for comedian Doug Benson, then working as an extra, as a zombie who shouts “Brains!” and sounds suspiciously like Marvin the Martian. Part II has these and a few other worthwhile moments amid all the dull plotting, intentional overacting, and sloppy presentation. It’s a movie best reserved for “bad movie night” or not at all.