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Flesh and Blood: “THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD”

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As any fright fan knows, the horror genre has a particularly salacious relationship with sexually explicit content. And while nudity so often goes side by side with decapitated heads and brutal bloodletting, there are also horror filmmakers throughout the years who made an art form out of the human body with an appreciation of our most lurid and lucid desires. And it’s with that macabre mentality in mind that FANGORIA is proud to announce our partnership with Mr. Skin for a brand new NSFW column that looks to provoke our minds as well as our more physical impulses, FLESH AND BLOOD!

While horror has so often been populated with nudity throughout the past 40 years, especially considering the genre’s frequently adult audience, one might struggle to name the most iconic nude scene in horror history. Some may be quick to name Mathilda May’s jaw-dropping nude scenes in Tobe Hooper’s LIFEFORCE, while others may cite ANGEL HEART, THE SHINING and SPECIES all of being strong contenders for the title. And while there’s no denying the credit due to those films, there is one that is utterly undeniable in its longevity and presence in the horror community: Trash’s graveyard striptease in Dan O’Bannon’s THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.

Featuring none other than scream queen all-star Linnea Quigley, there are few nude scenes that are as titillating and out-of-left-field than when Trash bares all, adding a new dimension to the bizarre, punk rock attitude from the zombie classic. But even more surprising is that as explicit and graphic that the scene gets, the scene never quite descends into exploitation territory as the entire scene and its execution feels aesthetically in line with the rest of the film. It’s not that the striptease itself feels overtly sexualized or that Trash is objectified, which there could be a good case for both, but that the action itself appears to be liberating for Trash, almost as if the act is more rebellious and freeing than her casual get-up.

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But to that point, the scene is not only legendary for Quigley’s impressive and healthy physique, but also for how much of a defining moment it has been for the film. Second only to the Tarman Zombie, Trash’s striptease has been depicted (in one way or another) in fan art, posters and apparel over the years, while the scene is almost a shoe-in on “best nude scene” lists around the web. And considering Quigley’s reputation for iconic nude scenes, as her work in SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and NIGHT OF THE DEMONS are beloved in their own right, the fact that Trash’s striptease is considered the sexiest of her career speaks volume.

While Quigley’s performance and raw sexuality deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the scene, there are other factors at play that makes the scene so memorable as well. For instance, Jules Brenner’s cinematography frames and lights Quigley as if she was a rock-n-roll goddess, painting her between bright white moonlight and glowing red flares. Likewise, SSQ’s “Tonight” sets the perfect soundtrack to the dance, which matches Quigley’s spunky physicality and the film’s frenetic tone. But at the end of the day, Trash’s striptease scene is not just a sum of its parts (no pun intended); there’s a bit of cinematic magic in Dan O’Bannon’s wicked vision that makes this sexy scene a true one-of-a-kind.

For full clips, pictures and more from THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, visit the Mr. Skin link below and sign up today with an exclusive discounted membership rate for FANGORIA fans only!

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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