The surviving members of the teenage dirt bike gang we met in Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis are back, but they seem to have lost not only their dirt bikes, but also all memories of their last zombie adventure. Even when the zombies outbreak occurs, none of them can be bothered to utter so much as a ‘not again!’
Anyway, one of the kids finds a couple barrels of Trioxin (the zombie-making juice) in his dead uncle’s attic. One of the other kids (who in the last film was a computer expert, but is now a master of chemistry) decides to package it up and sell it as an illegal drug to his fellow students (though in Walter White fashion, he sticks to cooking and has a local dealer handle the distribution). The dealer calls it ‘Z’ because it induces a temporary zombie-like state, which is followed sometime later by a permanent actual zombie state.
The previous Return of the Living Dead film was at best, and at worst, mediocre. There was nothing particularly awful about it; but nothing good either. I suppose ‘Rave from the Grave’ is a slight improvement in comparison. Once again, there’s nothing bad, and nothing very good about it; but at least it tries a little harder.
The makeup and gore effects are markedly improved over the last one. I’m not sure if they had new people come in, or if this script just gave them better opportunities to shine, but for a direct to DVD movie, the effects are more than adequate. They’ve added some comic relief in the form of two agents trying to track down the Trioxin. It isn’t successful as comedy, but it’s a welcome attempt after the uncharacteristically dark ‘Necropolis.’ The acting, generally, is still fine, with the exception of the two agents who over-act to the point that they basically ruin any scene they’re in.
They also made this Return of the Living Dead a little less family-friendly than the last one, mostly by adding lots and lots of topless women. I think that every woman that attended one of the titular raves takes her shirt off at the party. Apparently at raves (I’ve never been to one), one must do whatever the rave-leader tells you to, whether it’s taking your top off, or dancing awkwardly to bad music.
In the end, ‘Rave from the Grave’ is still pretty sad when compared to the original Return of the Living Dead; but it’s a tiny improvement over ‘Necropolis.’ It feels a little more like a Return of the Living Dead movie should, with its better effects and lighter tone; although that just makes you miss the first one that much more.