Live brains!
~ Tarman in Return of the Living Dead

The Tarman is a recurrent character in the Living Dead series. It is a highly decomposed zombie which has been reanimated through the Trioxin gas, with its most characteristic trait being its badly melted black muscles, which gives him the appearance as if he was covered in slimy tar. He made his debut in The Return of the Living Dead from 1985, where he was played by actors Allan Trautman and Robert Bennett.

Other iterations of the character appeared later in some of the sequels, such as Return of the Living Dead Part II and Return of the Living Dead: Rave from the Grave.

History[edit | edit source]

The Tarman first appeared in The Return of the Living Dead in a dried up state inside of a military Trioxin canister. After Frank Johnson hit the tank, believing that it was strong enough to withstand the blow, a crack on it released the 2-4-5 Trioxin gas and reawakened the Tarman, while also melting its skin.

Possibly because Frank and Freddy were knocked out by the gas and unknowingly turned into 2-4-5 Triombies themselves, the Tarman didn't pay attention to them and instead climbed out of the tank and went to look for fresh brains. However, since Frank and Freddy were unconscious at the time, they never knew the Tarman reanimated and instead assumed he melted when he came in contact with the air.

The Tarman actually spends most of the film hiding down in the basement until Tina goes down there. He sneaked up behind her and attempted to eat her brain. Luckily, she managed to hide inside a locker, although since the Tarman was desperate for her brain, he tried to rip off the door with the aid of a chain tied to a winch. While she was trapped in the cellar, her friends heard her screams and hurried down there as well. In the process of finding Tina, the Tarman got a hold of Suicide and devoured his brains. Later in the film, the Tarman's head was knocked off by Burt by hitting him with a baseball bat when they were trying to get to the phone in the cellar to call the number on the side of the Trioxin canister. The Tarman was most likely destroyed along with the rest of the zombies and human survivors when the military dropped a nuclear bomb on the town in order to contain the infection.

Another Tarman made an appearance in Return of the Living Dead Part II, where it was reanimated by Billy Crowley. This Tarman was later knocked into a river by Jesse Wilson. The physical difference between this Tarman and the one in the first film is that this one had a nose.

The Tarman later had a cameo in Return of the Living Dead: Rave from the Grave as a Triombie 5.

Abilities and traits[edit | edit source]

This type of Trioxin zombie at first glance appears to be the weakest of all the 2-4-5 triombies, because of how their muscles and skin are mostly melted and dissolved. However, this is alarmingly untrue, as once they grab hold of a victim, their grip is very difficult to break. They walk very slowly and clumsily, with unorthodox (and apparently rather unnecessary) movements that are probably the result of having little control left of their bodies due to the extreme damage their muscles have suffered.

In Rave from the Grave, one of them is fired upon repeatedly and even takes bullets to the head, yet is unharmed. Without a strong assault on their body by using melee weapons, such as a club, baseball bat or thick lead pipe, or any other means such as by inflicting heavy damage with a vehicle or heavy machinery, they are likely to keep coming until they manage to eat everyone.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The name "Tarman" was coined by Spider in The Return of the Living Dead, because of how its melted black muscles made it look as if it was covered in tar. Most of that film's small budget went to creating the Tarman as one of the best visual zombies ever created in horror cinema, combined with Allan Trautman's already skeletal physique and phenomenal body movements.
  • Tarman was the first zombie in history to evidence their specific hunger for human brains, a trait that has since become a trope in the zombie mythos worldwide (the yellow naked zombie from the freezer technically was the first, although neither his intentions nor motives were ever revealed).
  • While zombies in previous portrayals had shown the ability to emit voice, this was only limited to producing moans and other guttural noises. Tarman was the first to articulate intelligible phrases (and possibly even a conversation if given the chance, as evidenced by other zombies that were able to do so afterward).
  • While zombies from previous productions had already shown a limited ability to solve simple problems, such as using door handles or utilizing random items as weapons (although probably acting out of mere instinct), Tarman was the first one to display a relatively advanced level of intelligence, being able to detect a problem, deduce a quick solution to it and carry it on (such as tying one end of a chain to a locker's door and the other to a winch, and then utilize the latter to force the locker open).

Gallery[edit | edit source]

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