The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead: The Gravedigger’s Book Report.

The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead

Well, it’s been a long time coming.  Digging deep into the world of horror isn’t a true slogan if all I review is horror movies.  So today I finally branch out to talk about a book I just recently finished reading: The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead, by Christian Sellers and Gary Smart, and published by Plexus Publishing, which mainly deal in illustrated, non-fiction titles under a range of topics.  But enough about that, let’s get into the review itself!

The book opens with a foreword from Brian Peck (who played Scuz in RotLD, and also made cameos in parts II and III), and then an introduction from Bryan Yuzna.  The book doesn’t actually open with Return of the Living Dead, but with Night of the Living Dead, and John Russo’s split from George Romero to eventually become a driving force behind RotLD.

The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead

An example of the behind the scenes illustrations you get.

From then on, we finally get to the series we bought the book for.  There’s a ton of interviews from cast and crew about pretty much every aspect of making a movie, as well as some funny stories about some of the very cast and crew interviewed.  For example, I had no idea RotLD director Dan O’Bannon was so anal retentive and borderline insane in terms of fulfilling his vision down to a ‘T’.  It’s not everyday you hear about a director throwing chairs at people in order to make a point.  In fact, there is so much about the series I never knew, and I doubt even the movies’ commentaries combined cover quite as much as The Complete History does.

As you might expect, the first RotLD movie takes up the majority of the pages, with each subsequent sequel having fewer pages dedicated as the one before it.  In fact, I found it amusing that they had RotLD: Necropolis and Rave to the Grave together in one chapter, and both movies’ chapter barely took up more page space as RotLd III.  I know, who gives a shit about those movies, right?  I still want to know everything about the making of them regardless, even though I have yet to force myself to see Rave to the Grave.

The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead

Some more awesome behind the scenes pics.

The book’s title is very accurate.  This is about as complete as you will ever get in terms of learning everything you can about the RotLD series.  It’s 288 pages (counting table of contents, bibliography, etc) of detail after detail and amazing behind the scenes pictures and artwork.  If I had one issue, it’s that there isn’t quite as much story telling from stars like James Karen and Don Calfa as I liked.  But that’s a very minor detail when compared to what the book does have, and it’s not enough to affect my rating any.

Despite the book having a cover price of $24.95 U.S., it seems everywhere you look it’s impossible to find it for under $40, and I’ve seen prices as high as just over $100 for a copy.  This being due to the book being out of print.  Even for $40 though, it’s still worth picking up in my humble opinion.  Unless you hate behind the scenes and technical aspects to making movies, then you might want to avoid it.  Rest in peace everyone.

Macabre Rating: 5 out of 5 Necronomicons.

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