The Pain Keeps the Hunger Away (Return of the Living Dead III, 1993)
The third sequel in the franchise departs from the previous two films. It is more horror and less comedic. It has some macabre humor, but it is primarily about the gore this time around.
The story centers around a young man, the girl he loves and military experiments on zombies. So, based on a true story. Curt and Julie are a passionate new couple. Curt is way into Julie, who is way into morbid stuff. Curt’s dad is a colonel who works with Colonel Peck (Played by Frazier’s Dad!) experimenting on zombies, trying to make them into fighting machines. Curt decides to impress Julie by taking her to see the zombies. As they flee the base, Julie is killed. You can likely see where this is going. After she is resurrected, she struggled to not give into the desire for brains, but constantly gives in, and creates more zombies.
This being a Yunza production (director of gruesome body horror films Society and Bride of Re-Animator) it is a gooey and gut filled affair. When it comes to the central zombie and her victims, rather than be rotted corpses they are just grossly distorted. Ripped out spines and the like. In Julie’s case, she fight the hunger by extreme body piercing. This results in her looking monstrous with claws and spikes.
The visuals are very good, with some really strong and scary makeup effects. The film has little connection to the previous two films. There is zero carryover, other than you have the military experimenting with zombies. The tone is far more serious. It is, really, Return of the Living Dead in name only. On it’s own, it works, but when set in as part of a franchise, it seems less effective.