Although it features the same vaguely punk-derived fashion sense and many of the same plot elements as its predecessors, the third effort in the Return of the Living Dead series lacks much of the goofy entertainment value of the previous installments. Knowing that George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead was so influential that brain-eating zombies had become a staple of not just unscary horror films, but even Michael Jackson videos, the earlier filmmakers enlivened the brain-eating formula with jokey teen hi-jinks, playful special effects, and abundant humor. Return of the Living Dead 3, however, tries to replace these elements with a star-crossed love story, a straight-faced script, and flashier special effects. The problem is, such elements aren't too easy to achieve on such a modest budget. The limited acting range of the performers and the cheesiness of the creature effects render the film pretty average by zombie-flick standards. Only Mindy Clarke's eventual transformation into an uber-pierced vision of S&M attitude and the eventual appearance of a zombie cyborg gives the film much visual razzle dazzle -- and that's mostly of the "whoa, cool" rather than the "ooh, scary" variety. Plenty of genre buffs enjoy these flicks just for the familiarity of the gore, but in lieu of humor, some actual fright might have been in order.
by Brian J. Dillard review