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Return of the Living Dead album cover

In honour of ‘Bay of Blood,’ where we watched ROTLD on the big screen at the Paisley Stage in Napier, I’m taking a listen to the soundtrack album, a classic mix of raucous punk, psychobilly and ‘80s New Wave.

The album kicks off with ‘Surfin’ Dead’, a mid tempo banger from The Cramps that perfectly sets the scene for the film - a satirical zombie flick with an anarchic punk rock spirit rife with a blatant mistrust of authority. Dan O’Bannon’s film perfectly walks that line between fun and scary, ending on a note of bleakness that fits in with George Romero’s original vision, albeit on a much larger scale.

45 Grave bring a more mid ‘80s sound with ‘Partytime,’ treading the crossroads of punk and hair metal, with a gothic flavour. TSOL up the pace with their skittery melodic punk song ‘Nothin’ For You.’

The Flesh Eaters kick out some full speed psychobilly with ‘Eyes Without A Face’ before Roky Erickson slows the pace down with ‘Burn The Flames,’ a mid tempo dirge that perfectly fits the mood of the album and the film.

The Tall boys bring some dirty rockabilly punk with ‘Take A Walk’ while The Damned continue the full tilt punk assault with ‘Dead Beat Dance’.

SSQ round out the album with some new wave goodness, first with “Tonight (We’ll Make Love Until We Die), the soundtrack to Trash’s infamous graviton striptease (“Trash is taking off her clothes again”) to ‘Trash’s Theme,’ a moody synth driven instrumental.

This album is a great time capsule of the era and a must for every horror collection. The only tragedy is that the excellent synth score by Matt Clifford and Francis Haines hasn’t had an official vinyl release, apart from a rare record club exclusive. Here’s hoping Waxwork Records or Mondo can get this one out someday.


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