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September 09, 1985 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-09-09

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A

ARTS
Monday, September 9, 1985

The Michigan Daily

Page 6

Brain-eating gore is harmless enough

By Byron L. Bull
R EMEMBER a short essay
published some years ago by
Kurt Vonnegut - remember Kurt
Vonnegut? - wherein he contrasted
popular myths by various cultures in
an attempt to demonstrate his theory
that one should be able to tell at least'
as much about a people from their
stories as from their pottery and
arrow heads? Taking that approach to
films now - because films, along with
pop music, have pretty much
replaced prose as a medium of enter-
tainment'that could best be used as a
scio barometer of a culture's taste
and predelictions - what then do we
make of a popular movie like Return
of the Living Dead?
For starters Return is the latest in a
Flong series of works that have been
'apitalizing on the public's
fascination with being frightened and

repulsed for ages. The list runs from
the gore happy Elizabethan drama -
this is stretching it, but go and take a
look at Shakespeare's Titus An-
dronicus - on through horror films of
the last three decades, from those
bloody - if now relatively tame -
Hammer Dracula films, through the
original Night of the Living Dead -
which Return both rips off and pays
homage to - through the A-budget
thrillers of the '70s like Jaws and The
Omen that legitimized gore, to their
mutant offspring, the Friday the 13th
teen splatter cheapies that have
raised more than a few conscientious
eyebrows with their celebration of
coldly calculated, brutally explicit
slaughtering.
Return starts off pretty typically, as
a chemical leak at a medical supply
warehouse seeps into a nearby
cemetary, where reactivated corpses
rise up with a ravenous desire for
human brains - somehow the taste

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makes the pain of live death more
bearable, sort of like methadone -
and they take off after a group of
punkers who've been partying
amongst the tombstones. But right off
Return starts off on a light foot, with
high camp stereotypes of punkers all
adorned in extravagant chains and
mohawks, who listen to pseudo-
hardcore and mutter inanities like
"Are we gonna' party or are we gon-
na' party?!" and equally cartoonish
ghouls. The zombies chase around the
punkers, grabbing them and biting in-
to skulls with a juicy crunch, while the
punkers in turn lob off zombie skulls
with baseball bats, making the affair
one big ghastly Punch and Judy, or
possibly a demented homage to the
cartoons of the '50s.
The laughs are, of course, lowbrow,
the most basic kind of slapstick and
yuck-o chills, with heaping mounds of
crass campiness, like the zombified
boy who chases his cute, homogenized
girlfriend around throughout the pic-
ture, saying things like, "Honey I love
you...I've got to eat your brains!"
Director-writer Dan O'Bannon has
assembled the whole film pretty
crudely, skipping over the numerous
plot inconsistencies, and falling back
on pretty well worn ideas - grimey
arms clawing through boarded up
windows, the obligatory massacre of
a police squadron - without a thought
given to pacing the film with any
degree of suspense: It's all one big
hoary gory free for all.
There are a few good little touches,
like when a group of people capture a
zombie and cut off its head to kill it,
only to- find out that both parts still
live, and when they subsequently
hacksaw the remaining pieces, the
dismembered arms and feet still flap
about like fish out of water.
Like too many genre films these
days the emphasis is on the special ef-
fects scattered about a pretty
unimaginative, shaggy-dog script.
Though some of the effects in the film
are good, especially a goofy melting
zombie, they are too infrequent to
save the film. If you've seen the
previews you've literally seen every
good second in the film.
If this were yet one more psycho
with an ice pick dispatching virginal
teen girls I'd probably come down a
lot harder on it, but it's really hard to
get upset about a film that's far less
violent than many a comic book or
Heavy Metal issue, and is so obviously
euphoric about drowning in its own
See HARMLESS, Page 7
A moment of silence
to focus
the work
we are doing
this academic year
on caring for
humanity and the
world.
Wed., Sept.11
12 noon
On the Diag
Pachelbel's Canon

with the
Galliard Brass
Ensemble in a free
outdoor performance.

0

Pictured is a ghoul rising from his grave in 'Return of the Living Dead.'

a

Sound with sentimentyHbyEhi
By Hobey Echlin
IN A SOLID two-hour set com-
bining strong social commentary
and a wide range of reggae styles
Steel Pulse awed the nearly sold-out
Michigan Theater audience Friday
night. Singer David Hinds led the
now seven-piece (with the addition
of a new keyboardist) reggae act
through two full sets featuring
everything from roots reggae stan-
dards to innovative songs from their
new album due out in October.
Hinds offered plenty of commen-
tary before each song. "Save Black
Music" afforded Hinds a chance to
express his criticism of the Live Aid
concert for the lack of black perfor-
mers. An interesting irony, he poin-
ted out, considering Live Aid's pur-
pose of helping the famine-stricken
blacks of Ethiopia. The song's drif-
ty, soothing verse, a sort of
metaphor of the Live Aid's distanced
approach, was answered by an im-
periled chorus, as if Hinds was
speaking from the viewpoint of the
Ethiopians in calling for racial
justice.
Unlike many Jamaican bands who
limit their social commentary top
local issues, Steel Pulse embraces.
an understanding of the problems
that face the world as a whole. Thus
songs have a wider scope than you'd
expect from a bunch of dreads who
got their start playing scummy
clubs in London with acts like
Generation X. Whether commenting
on racism in Europe or the Daily Photo by DAN HABIB
massacre of blacks in South Africa,
Steel Pulse does it with sincerity and Steel Pulse lead vocalist David Hinds led the group through an evening of
feeling. strong words and strong emotions at the Michigan Theatre Friday night.
See PULSE, Page stogwrsadsrn7mtosa teMcia har rdyngt
THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO
BECOMING A NURSE IN THE ARMY.

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