Brian Yuzna deals in extremes: extreme gore, extreme lust, extreme feeling, screaming, crying, the feeling that you could lose everything through the tiniest gesture. His characters strap each other to gurneys for unnecessary surgery, they're abducted by secret orders and stripped of their autonomy and control of their destiny, they must plunge head first into chaos and depravity to survive. He's best known for helping create "Re-Animator" and directing its sequels, but he's done so much splendid work since that I felt honor bound to spread the word. His work is always in upper registers, written, it would seem, in caps lock, but the dynamics are more versatile than they appear before the exclamation points. No one, for instance, better understood the way TV producers and advertisers spoke to their audience. He presented and subverted the traditional look and feel of pop TV in "Society" and "The Dentist," in order to tell his viewers how they were being spoken to by modern media.
When he speaks he sounds like a well-meaning literature professor, and comes off every bit the father he is. He's incredibly smart and genial. I had the pleasure of interviewing him and he couldn't have been nicer. He seemed surprised I'd bothered to unpack and study his films, but I believe they're worth it. "Return of the Living Dead 3" is the outlier in his body of work because it's his only film that doesn't seem like a little thesis statement on the thinking part of the human brain and the way we process media. No this one's about the heart, through and through, and the way it can lie to our brains about rationality. It's also among the most accurate films I've ever seen about complicated relationships. And finally it's beautifully tragic, a movie that shouldn't have the power it does. It destroys me like a great melodrama because Yuzna means every bit of it. And I mean it when I say this film ought to be a horror classic.
To watch more of Scout Tafoya's video essays from his series The Unloved, click here.