Sunday, October 11, 2015

Horror Review #11 - Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005)

There was a long break between Return of the Living Dead 3 (which I reviewed last night), and Necropolis.  Twelve years, in fact.  In that time, I think what happened was, SyFy channel got ahold of the rights to Return of the Living Dead, and started making sequels.

Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005) starts out with a few guys heading into Chernobyl to fetch some barrels of Tryoxin 5 (which doesn't seem to be the same as 2-4-5 Trioxin, but seems to have the same effects on the dead) that had been stored there.  There's some nice shots of what I guess is that deserted town near Chernobyl, the one that was just opening an amusement park, that had to be evacuated.  It's been shown in a couple movies I've seen already, and the scenery looked familiar.  I think the intro sequence was actually filmed there, which is cool.   The guys have the inevitable zombie accident, but one guy survives to retrieve the barrels, and returns them to Hybra-Tech.  By this time, zombie outbreaks happen about as frequently as natural disasters, and Hybra-Tech is the go-to clean-up company in charge of containing and cleaning up the zombie mess.  Fast forward a bit, and we see a teenager named Julian getting ready to go to school.  Julian and his little brother, Pyro, seems to be wards of a guy they call "Uncle Charlie," after the death of their parents.  Uncle Charlie (played by Peter Coyote) turns out to be that surviving guy from the Chernobyl thing at the beginning of the movie.  Fast forward again to where Julian is riding around on motorbikes with his friends, and one of them (named Zeke) falls and has a head injury.  They take Zeke to the hospital, but the hospital lists Zeke's condition as deceased and transfers Zeke to Hybra-Tech for research purposes. Apparently, Hybra-Tech owns not only the hospital, but the ambulances as well, so it seems they've been doing a little "live specimen" collecting on the side.  A friend of Julian's, Katie, works at Hybra-Tech and sees them bringing an unconscious Zeke in for testing, so Katie contacts Julian and they decide to get him out of there.  Of course, during their attempted jailbreak, all hell breaks loose.

I know, kind of a long intro, isn't it?  Well, the lead-up to the action in this movie seemed to take forever.  Slow starter, indeed.  I had never seen this movie before tonight, so I had no idea it would take so long to get there.  But hey, it's a zombie movie, I guess we need some reason to get a bunch of teenagers into a research lab to let the zombies loose, right?  Right.  One long, convoluted reason, but whatevs.

The action and plot in this movie is a little sub-par, even for the return of the living dead series.  They go a long way to explaining the reasons for getting a bunch of teens into the research lab, and frankly, spend way too much time on the teens' back-stories.  Do I really need to know that Katie used to date Zeke, is now dating Julian, and they're hiding it from Zeke because he's something of an asshole?  Not really.  Did I need to know one of the other girls was a gymnast?  Nope.  Doesn't seem to have any bearing on the movie whatsoever, so why mention it all?  I have no idea.  I guess they needed some lines of dialogue while they were getting the special effects ready.  (shrug)

Let me toss a few more plot holes at you.  Minor spoilers.  The kids zoom off on their bikes to infiltrate Hybra-Tech in order to rescue Zeke, where the zombie outbreak is already happening.  One of the teens (named Carlos, I think), happens to bring along a gun.  A couple of hobo-zombies attack them, and carlos shoots them, only to find out you need to shoot them in the head to kill them.  Carlos shoots them in the head.  Two zombies down, outbreak suddenly contained, though nobody knows it but me.  Fast-forward a bit.  Teens continue into the facility, and accidentally let loose a shit-ton of other zombies.  Guards unload shotguns into the bodies of the dead, which...  kills them?  Wait, what?  I thought you needed a head shot, to...  I guess not.  Yep, suddenly, for the rest of the movie, bullet wounds to the body suddenly kill zombies.  Then, in another completely unrelated plot hole, Pyro, Julian's little brother, is in the air vents where the teens are.  How the frig did he get there?  No explanation.  Just bam, there he is.  Awesome.

Necropolis is a pretty dismal entry into the series.  Judged on what few merits it possesses, I can't really say there's much to recommend here.  The actual running zombie-fight at Hybra-Tech isn't bad, but it doesn't last too long.  There's a few explosions, a lot of shooting, and some fist-fights with teens, who somehow manage to beat the crap out of some zombies who tore a guard's head off not five minutes earlier in the movie.  Meh,  I guess the plot holes are kind of obvious, and just knocked me right out of enjoying this movie.

No redeeming nudity, not even a shower scene.  The only recognizable actor was Peter Coyote, who looked angry just for having to show up in such a crappy zombie flick.  Acting was hard to gauge since most of the scenes involved running and riding around on dirt bikes.  I think the zombies probably did a better job of acting, and they were dead.  This one is available on Crackle.com if you want to check it out, but I can't really recommend it.  The beginning wasn't very good, the middle sucked, and the ending was worse.  It doesn't seem to have anything of interest or note within it, unless you want to check out the scenes around Chernobyl at the very beginning, out of curiosity.

That's all for tonight.  I'm going to review Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005, also on Crackle.com) tomorrow night, completing the Return of the Living-Dead trifecta, for extra bonus points.  Extra bonus points?  What am I talking about?  I don't know!  See you guys then.

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