“You mean the movie lied?!”
On this day (August 16) in 1985 Return of the Living Dead was unleashed into theaters! A result of the split of rights between Night of the Living Dead creators John Russo and George Romero, Return actually came out the same year as Day of the Dead. The two films couldn’t be more different, with Day being more serious and… well, depressing (I believe I recently called Day a “shitstorm of nihilism”), and Return leaning heavily into the comedy that Romero had only played around with in Dawn of the Dead.
Now, Return really deserves its own article and I really need to get on that sometime soon. There are so many great and enjoyable things about the film – from a hilarious script, an enjoyable soundtrack, fun characters and some truly gross and awesome zombie effects. (And of course Linnea Quigley’s turn as Trash is already heralded in song, story and Sailor Monsoon and Vincent Kane’s “Cult of Trash” Podcasts.)
Today, however we’re going to focus on one of the most memorable character zombies in the film. The gloriously goopy (and hungry) Tarman.
The first zombie released by luckless main characters Bert (James Karen) and Freddie (Thom Mathews), the Tarman undergoes a rapid decomposition upon contact with air. Played with spastic enthusiasm by Allan Trautman and Robert Bennett, the Tarman made an immediate impression on me as a young horror movie aficionado and his rallying cry of “Brains!” and “FRESH Brains!” made the cranial culinary desires of all future zombies a matter of canon.
I will disclose that one of my references for this illo was the Tarman Action Figure from Amok Time, a gift from my brother Scott. It’s awesome.
In a movie full of fun scenes, great one-liners and one of the few (only?) strip scenes in a cemetery, the Tarman always stood out. While I’ll always be partial to “Send more paramedics” as my favorite line, the Tarman is my favorite zombie. Sorry Trash.