If I was to describe this movie in one word, it would be FUN! This film has a special place in my heart because the first time I saw it was during Halloween night 2003. I rented 5 horror films I've never seen before and this movie was the first one to kick off my night. Every Halloween since then I've held a horror movie marathon, and thus far every year has been an undying success.
The Return of the Living Dead is a film not to be taken seriously. It is made to be a horror/comedy. I think it's a lot of fun watching the characters, seeing one continuous blunder after another as a simple containment breach escalates into a massive cemetery revival. It does break a lot of the rules of your traditional zombie film, but if you can accept that, it makes it a lot of fun. Things like zombies running, eating brains, talking, etc. But after watching the featurette on the dvd, it was something they set out to do. There were competing against Romero at the time and they really didn't want to tread on his territory so they took the vision of a zombie in a different direction...and I loved it.
There are so many things that make this film great to watch. Most of the characters are tolerable and seem to have a good grip on things. Like most horror films, theres at least one person that can't handle shit so they fly off the handle, but it wasn't very bothersome. The comedy was great throughout, not so much as in one-liners, but more with how the characters and zombies acted. And as a bonus, the "Tar-Man", is probably the coolest zombie I've ever seen. I go nuts everytime the skeleton sits up out of the ground and as his eyes and mouth open wide, we hear this rock-n-roll "You Wanna Party!?!?" song hit. I love it.
Some of the special effects are lacking, but it doesn't detour the story any. Just keep in mind it is mid-eighties and they didn't have a very big budget.
I recommend it highly, it will never win any amazing award for excellence, but it is worth a watch and I for one am proud to own this precious gem.