I must be a glutton for punishment. This is the only explanation I’ve come up with over the years as to why I feel the need to watch countless sequels, sometimes to horror movies I didn’t even like, no matter what digit they happen to get to. How else can I explain seeing the first seven Witchcraft movies? Going into Return Of The Living Dead: Rave To The Grave though was a difficult task even to a hardened sequel-phile like myself. In my eyes the fourth entry, Necropolis, was the nail in this series coffin but seeing as the investors had put up enough money for another sequel to be shot back-to-back with that one, using much of the same cast and director, it was inevitable that more brain-munching was to arrive.
Things start out much the same way they did in the last entry as the sale of the last barrel of Trioxin-5 between a former government agent (Peter Coyote) and some mobsters ends-up going wrong giving us a few headshots, brain bites, and eyes popping out. This is a pretty good way to kick it off but then they had to go and introduce a bunch of college students into the mix.
Looks like our, now deceased, ex-agent was the Uncle of Julian (John Keefe) who happens to find a few more of the canisters in a secret room tucked away in his Uncle’s house when he goes to clean the place up. Most people would just leave it alone or call the number emblazoned on the side of the barrel but when Julian takes one of them to his chemist friend Cody (Cory Hardrict) to get it analyzed, his friends decide that since it’s similar to ecstasy he should use his skills to brew it into a fashionable drug they’ll call “Z” so they can sell it on campus and make a tidy profit.
This concoction of science and government zombie juice catches on quickly amongst the students with the only side effect being that people who take it too often become the brain craving undead. This gives director Ellory Elkayem plenty of chances to throw out a lot of people getting the backs of their melons chomped on (something the fourth movie overdid badly as well) but we also get some drumsticks in the eyes and a guitar decapitation – so at least there’s some variety here.
Around the same time a duo of Russian agents are trying to track down the canisters and everyone ends-up at a Halloween rave where the “Z” infected zombies get to mingle with costumed students during a finale that still feels hollow despite trotting out a slew of attacks, headshots and even a laughable CGI missile.
While it’s not nearly as bad as Necropolis, this fifth entry is still a downer for fans of the series. Scripters William Butler and Aaron Strongoni decide to play the whole thing for laughs without delivering the things that made the first movie a cult classic (and the first two sequels at least watchable). People just want to see zombie mayhem with a few chuckles and some skin thrown in for good measure, we don’t want to sit around listening to the twenty-something cast ramble off weak jokes waiting for the next effects moment to happen. But that’s probably to be expected when the entire script feels more scattershot than anything.
Elkayem does do his best to keep things moving at a generally quick pace, there’s some decent songs on the soundtrack, and the effects are handled pretty well but when the best moment of the movie is the return of the “Tarman” from the first movie and a gag involving him trying to hitchhike to the party with a “Rave or Bust” sign you can’t help but wonder why you’re watching yet another pointless and lame sequel. (Chris Hartley, 1/24/08)
Directed By: Ellory Elkayem.
Written By: William Butler, Aaron Strongoni.
Starring: Jenny Mollen, Cory Hardrict, John Keefe, Aimee-Lynn Chadwick.