There’s not much to say about Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave other than it’s actually worse than the movie before it. Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis was really bad and not in the so bad it’s funny. What had been a cult horror franchise which had fun with the zombie genre in addition to putting some genuine scares in people, these last two Return of the Living Dead films should pretty much kill the franchise just when the zombie revival is still going on strong.
Ellory Elkayem does directing duty for this fifth installment. He also directed the fourth film. I had thought that not everything should be laid at Elkayem’s feet when it came to who to blame for the lackluster and awful film that was Necropolis, but after sitting through Rave to the Grave I have to say that whatever good will Ellory Elkayem built up with his funny take on the giant creature feature, Eight-Legged Freaks, has been wasted with his back-to-back filming of Necropolis and Rave to the Grave. Elkayem films both films one after the other and I am going to assume this was more to save on the budget than any sort of continuity with the actors hired to play recurring roles. If saving money was the main reason then it sure didn’t look like it. Except for a few hero-zombie (zombies given more screentime than most thus given a better make-up effect) scenes the film clearly shows it’s ultra low-budget pedrigree. I don’t have problems with low-budget horror movies as long as there’s a sense of energy and enjoyment by those making it, but neither Necropolis and Rave to the Grave showed any one of the two.
Rave to the Grave occurs one year after the events of Necropolis and the teenage survivors of that film have now graduated and attending college. The film never really makes it clear if they’re in back in the U.S. attending college or still in Eastern Europe where the previous film was set. Either way the survivors from the previous film seem to have moved on quite well from their horrific experiences in Necropolis. The fact that they don’t seem to recognize the newly found containment barrel marked with the label of 2-4-5 Trioxin just adds to the weird and huge plot hole between film four and five. One would think that these kids would have it etched forver in their minds that containment barrel with 2-4-5- Trioxin equals horror. Instead they naively investigate and research the barrel with one of their friends realizing he could turn the chemical leaking from the barrel into a new form of rave drug whose extreme hallucinogenic effects also hide a side-effect which basically turns anyone who partakes of the drug into a zombie.
The rest of the movie deals with the survivors finally realizing the crisis they’ve unleashed and instead of calling for police or military help decide to go to the same outdoor rave party where everyone is taking the drug to try and find the person who made the drug Z and stop him from taking them. Like I said earlier, the film really has major plot holes and most of the time doesn’t make much sense. What we get in the end is an excuse to have a huge set piece where the survivors get to shoot as many zombies as possible while at the same time allow for the random raver to suddenly become a zombie out of the blue. There’s also a subplot of a couple of bumbling Men-in-Black type agents whose job it is to recover the Trioxin barrel while remaining inconspicuous. The secret organization they belong to must be global since I could barely understand their lines with the heavy Russian accent used by both “actors”.
My disappointment in what could’ve been a nice follow-up to the first three Return of the Living Dead movies was compounded by the sheer Z-movie level of Rave to the Grave after the awful work that was Necropolis. For those wanting to see a good b-level zombie movie that’s bad but enjoyable at the same time should check out House of the Dead 2. Yes, the sequel to Uwe Boll’s rancid and awful House of the Dead ended up being better than the original and way more entertaining than Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave. I wouldn’t even accept this film as a free dvd if someone gave it to me. In fact, I may end up punching that person as a reflex action.