JULY 26, 2010
I hate to watch sequels out of order, but the proper cut of Return of the Living Dead 3 is seemingly never coming to DVD in the US, and by all accounts, Return of The Living Dead: Necropolis (and it's back to back produced sequel, Rave To The Grave), has fuck all to do with the earlier entries beyond the name of the virus, so I figured it was OK. More importantly, it was seriously the only horror movie in Blockbuster that I could find that I hadn't seen but didn't have copious extra features that would take up my very busy post Comic Con time, where I have to transcribe interviews that no one reads.
I can almost guarantee that I'm in the minority here, but I have to admit, I liked Necropolis more than ROTLD II. It's still a far cry from a good movie, but the humor was slightly more successful, they weren't afraid to kill their characters (including the requisite little kid), and it wasn't as pace-challenged. While it still takes a bit too long for the shit to hit the fan, there's a healthy dosage of isolated zombie attacks throughout the film.
But it's also hilariously and almost cripplingly cheap. Of all the shots to re-use in a film, why use one with a distracting technical error? There's a shot of a guy taking off a helmet, and the image is sort of mirrored to the character's left - it's an odd error, so why call attention to it by using it again? Especially when the first time it's used, it's incredibly useless? Also, maybe they do things differently in the Ukraine, but it seems odd that a top secret facility would have color coded vents and video-game style button-based security systems. It reminded me of the Metal Gear games, when they start telling your character directions using video game controls ("Snake, don't forget to hold R1 while you aim, and shoot with your triangle button!").
The best one has to be at the very end, during the obligatory "End of zombie movie newscast" scene. The guy is yammering on and on about something, but I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying, because I was too distracted by the hilariously inept "Sports scores" running at the bottom of the screen. All they show are cities and numbers, not like "Final" or "in the 4th quarter" - hell it doesn't even say what SPORT it is. I assume they are basketball scores, because they run very high, but then there will be a 41 - 28 or something, which is more of a football score. As someone who has created these sort of things for movies/TV in the past, I know the mindset is "No one is paying attention to these things", but trust me, the more realistic you can make them, the more legit the final product will look.
Have you ever watched an action or horror movie and thought "Man, don't they EVER run out of bullets?" Well, Necropolis is the film for you. Because, I swear to Christ, EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER runs out of bullets in this movie, sometimes back to back (and at one point, simultaneously). I respect the attempt at being less cliched, but it gets pretty ridiculous for it to keep happening "at the worst possible time", over and over and over, especially when the bulk of the action is confined to the final 25 minutes of the movie. I do love, however, when one girl is trying to shoot with the safety on, and once she realizes her error, she simply puts the gun away rather than turn it off and help her friend. She then runs out of ammo a few minutes later.
But for its many faults, I do appreciate the attempt at being more like the original, with a lot of likable characters, talking zombies (they even pay homage to the "Send more paramedics" line), and a decent soundtrack. I dunno how they managed to get Alice Cooper, Powerman 5000, and Godsmack, among others, for such a low budget film, but it gives it a bit of extra quality that most DTV movies (especially those made in the tell tale "We're broke" land of Romania) could never dream to have. Of course, the tradeoff seems to be the actors, as they are a fairly unmemorable lot, with only the delightfully spunky Jana Kramer making any sort of impression on me (which I swear has nothing to do with the fact that she was on Friday Night Lights and thus automatically has my undying respect).
Peter Coyote also seems to be enjoying himself, which is nice, since this is obviously a bit beneath him. He plays the usual sort of evil scientist guy that all crappy zombie movies have, but Coyote gives him a bit of a personality, and you gotta love the guy for putting some effort into the role instead of just phoning it in like most of his peers would (and have). His character returns in the next film, as do the other survivors (Kramer is sadly not one of them, though I must admit her death was a bit of a shock), giving it the only real continuity in the entire series, so you got to appreciate that as well. Unless you couldn't stand any of them the first time, in which case that must annoy the shit out of you.
By no means is this a good movie. It's cheap looking, the zombie action is bland (that they all look alike doesn't help), and there really isn't much of a point to it. But it's also watchable, not boring, and there was SOME effort on display. And for that alone, I think it puts this a notch above the 2nd film, which was given a theatrical release. As DTV sequels to theatrical properties go, I'd say it's above any DTV Leprechaun entry.
What say you?