#SDCC16: Thom Mathews and John Philbin Talk The Return of the Living Dead - Dread Central
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#SDCC16: Thom Mathews and John Philbin Talk The Return of the Living Dead



Return of the Living Dead

Thanks to Scream Factory, while milling about the San Diego Comic-Con, we had a chance to sit down with two of the actors from the classic film The Return of the Living Dead (Blu-ray review): Thom Mathews, who played the lead role of  Freddy, and John Philbin, who played one of the punks, Chuck.

We were just kids when we did this movie, man,” said Mathews. “We had no idea that decades later people would still be talking about it. I did most of my scenes with Jimmy Karen and Don Calfa. Let me tell you; if I were a film producer, I would have Jimmy up on every set just to be there. I learned so much from him, and he was such a genuinely nice man. Calfa, though? He was intense, and he brought those manic sensibilities to the role. It all plays out perfectly onscreen. The three of us had great chemistry.

Philbin went on to describe how it was on the set. “It was funny; on set there were like two groups of people… there was Clu (Gulager), Thom, Jimmy, and Don at one end of the spectrum, and then there were us, the punks. Over the years, the two groups have come together and we’re just like this big family now who get together every so often to celebrate this crazy movie we made, which still very much holds up.

Return of the living Dead

Given how beloved the film has become, we asked the guys what they attribute its longevity to.  “Part of the reason it holds up so well I think is due in part to the wonderful effects work, which still hold up to this very day, even in the age of ‘The Walking Dead,'”  says Mathews. “Then there was the music, man! It’s timeless stuff! So very punk rock. Then of course there’s Dan’s direction, which was just so very precise amongst the chaos. He was such a great guy.

It’s the fans,” says Philbin. “They love these movies so much! Going out there, meeting them… seeing the tattoos and the t-shirts; it’s really humbling. Horror fans are some of the best people I’ve ever met! Now I wanna make more horror movies!

Matthews continued, “What’s cool about the movie was the fact that it ended up having so much humor and being so lively despite the subject matter. However, on set we played everything as straight as could be. We were making a horror movie, and the humor came together very organically.

Return of the living Dead

Each actor had a favorite day on set…

For Thom… “Man, it was the day with the half corpse. That thing… it was just the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It still is.” For John… “Being there for Linnea’s gravestone dance… for obvious reasons.

On an unrelated note… I couldn’t help but ask Matthews the magic question… would he return to Friday the 13th as an older Tommy Jarvis?

Hey, you know what? I’m the only actor in the history of the franchise to ever awaken Jason and then put him back to rest in the same movie and live to tell about it. Hell yes, I’d come back!

About The Return of the Living Dead Blu-ray Release:
Writer/director Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Lifeforce) puts an uproarious spin on the zombie apocalypse movie in 1985’s cult classic THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, starring Clu Gulager (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), James Karen (Mulholland Drive) and Don Calfa (Weekend at Bernie’s). Considered one of the campiest undead romps of its time, the film helped launch the career of scream queen Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons) and features a killer soundtrack with tracks from many songs from punk artists such as The Cramps, T.S.O.L. SSQ and 45 Grave.

This definitive set includes a collectible slipcover featuring newly rendered artwork and a reversible cover wrap featuring original theatrical key art. A must-have for movie collectors, zombie horror enthusiasts and loyal fans, THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD Collector’s Edition Blu-ray is available for pre-order now at ShoutFactory.com and will be made available to other fine retailers.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the cemetery, those brain-eating zombies are back and hungry for more tasty mortals. A fiendish mix of outrageous humor and heart-stopping terror, THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is a veritable smorgasbord of fun (LA Herald-Examiner) filled with skin-crawling jolts, eye-popping visuals and relentless surprise! On his first day on the job at an army surplus store, poor Freddy unwittingly releases nerve gas from a secret U.S. military canister, unleashing an unbelievable terror. The gas re-animates an army of corpses, who arise from their graves with a ravenous hunger for human brains! And luckily for those carnivorous cadavers, there is a group of partying teens nearby, just waiting to be eaten!


Special Features:

Disc 1:

  • NEW 2K scan of the inter-positive
  • NEW Audio Commentary with Gary Smart (co-author of The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead) and Chris Griffiths
  • Audio Commentary with director Dan O’Bannon and Production Designer William Stout
  • Audio Commentary with the cast and crew featuring Production Designer William Stout and actors Don Calfa, Linnea Quigley, Brian Peck, Beverly Randolph, Allan Trautman
  • The Decade of Darkness – featurette on ‘80s horror films (23 minutes)
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery – Posters, Lobby Cards, Movie Stills and Behind-the-Scenes photos
  • Still Gallery – Behind-the-Scenes photos from special make-up effects artist Kenny Myers’ personal collection
  • Zombie Subtitles for the Film
  • In Their Own Words – The Zombies Speak

Disc 2:

  • NEW The FX of the Living Dead with Production Designer William Stout, FX make-up artists William Munns, Tony Gardner, Kenny Myers and Craig Caton-Largnet, Visual Effects artists Bret Mixon and Gene Warren Jr. and actor Brian Peck (Expanded Version) (30 minutes)
  • NEW Party Time: The Music of The Return of the Living Dead with music consultants Budd Carr and Steve Pross and soundtrack artists Dinah Cancer (45 Grave), Chris D (The Flesh Eaters), Roky Erickson, Karl Moet (SSQ), Joe Wood (T.S.O.L.), Mark Robertson (Tall Boys) plus musicians Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks) and John Sox (The F.U.’s, Straw Dogs), (Expanded Version) (30 minutes)
  • NEW HORROR’S HALLOWED GROUNDS – revisiting the locations of the film
  • Return of the Living Dead Workprint – includes 20 minutes of additional footage (in Standard Definition)
  • More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead – The definitive documentary on The Return of the Living Dead (120 minutes)
  • A Conversation with Dan O’Bannon – His final interview (28 minutes)
  • The Origins of the Living Dead – an interview with John A. Russo (16 minutes)
  • The Return of the Living Dead – The Dead Have Risen – interviews with cast members Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Brian Peck, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, Linnea Quigley and more… (21 minutes)
  • Designing the Dead – interviews with writer/director Dan O’Bannon and production designer William Stout (15 minutes)

Avid fans of the film will want to take note of two exclusive offers on the release—which are only available through Scream Factory while supplies last…

Standard Offer:

  • Receive a limited-edition 18” x 24” poster of the newly-designed art from artist Graham Humphries
  • Product will be shipped two weeks earlier than National Street date of July 19th

Deluxe Officer (Limited to 1,000 orders only – pictured below):

  • Receive a limited-edition 18” x 24” poster of the newly-designed art from artist Graham Humphries
  • Product will be shipped three weeks earlier than National Street date of July 19th
  • Receive a second slipcover—made exclusively for this promotion and newly-designed from artist Joel Robinson
  • Receive a second 18” x 24” poster of the newly designed art from Joel Robinson






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