Most horrifying horror movie monsters: 8. Tarman (Return of the Living Dead)
Zombies are a dime a dozen these days. Even if the glut of modern zombie films is on a downswing, there’s no denying the dominance of the undead throughout horror movie history. There are the legendary George A. Romero films, of course, beginning with Night of the Living Dead and including Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead.
Modern viewers will also likely remember modern movies featuring reanimated corpses, such as 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, and the sprawling Resident Evil film series. And while some details may change, such as the nature of the zombie infection, how to finally kill the undead, and the top speeds reached by these ghouls much remains the same. Zombies, after all, were once people. While they may look a little worse for wear, they’re still recognizable as former members of our community.
Except, that is, for Tarman. If you’re looking for some of the grossest, strangest zombies with an edge of dark humor, then look for this zombie and his associates in Return of the Living Dead.
Return of the Living Dead, released in 1985, does not want you to take it seriously. It’s a horror-comedy, after all, written and directed by Dan O’Bannon (who also wrote the screenplay for Alien). Still, as much as you may laugh, there are plenty of horrors contained within the film that can stick with you for a long, long time.
“Tarman” is named as such for the sticky, black goo that covers what once was a human body. He was previously an inert corpse, stuffed into a metal drum, that somehow made its way into a storage room at a medical supply warehouse. When two employees at the warehouse inadvertently release a reanimating gas, Tarman awakens and manages to escape his container.
Some local punks eventually encounter Tarman and the other zombies (many of whom hail from a nearby cemetery, naturally). Yet, Tarman really takes the undead cake. He’s little more than bones and rags, with the added freakishness of bulging eyes. Tarman is practically half-melted, though still walking, crying for “brains”, and dealing out some serious terror to the movie’s protagonists.