More than a decade has passed, 12 years to be exact, since the last Return of the Living Dead movie was released. The third movie left this series at a high point when compared to previous sequel. So fans of the series are expecting this feature to meet if not exceed the bar previously set. With parts 4 and 5 being shot back to back for the Sci-Fi Channel fans have plenty to worry about. We all know the types of flicks Sci-Fi likes to do and to put it plainly, most suck.
The movie opens as we head for Chernobyl with Uncle Charlie (Peter Coyote). He has a lead on scoring some of that gas/goo that reanimates the dead. No longer is it Trioxin 2-4-5 but just Trioxin 5. I have no idea why the name was changed as it is the exact same thing used in the last three movies. Charles works for the local Umbrella Corporation, oops I mean Hydra Tech as a researcher/scientist. So Charlie picks up a few containers of the chemical and back home to Middle America he goes.
Our main character Julian (John Keefe) and his little brother Jake (Alexandru Geoana), or Pyro as the kids call him, have been taken in by good ole Uncle Charlie as mom and dad perished in a car accident, or so they think. Julian and his friends are avid dirt bike junkies. They all love to do do these risky burnouts and 3 foot jumps. Zeke (Elvin Dandel) decides he is going to show Julian how a real man jumps an end table. Zeke ends up wiping out with the force of someone stubbing their toe leading to unconsciousness. Julian’s best friend is rushed to the hospital because he will not come to. So the squad packs up all of their extreme gear and heads to Zeke’s side. Only to find he is not there and died in transport.
Zeke has been delivered to Hydra Tech where he will be under going some experiments at the hands of our kooky and always lovable Uncle Charlie. Hydra Tech has a deal “under the table” and receives living specimens to experiment on. Julian and his stereotypical crew of, Becky the hot chick nerd (Aimee-Lynn Chadwick), Katie the innocent girl (Jana Kramer), trigger-happy Carlos (Toma Danila), Cody the token black guy/hacker (Cory Hardrict) and slutty little Mimi (Diana Munteanu) all smell a rat and will not stand for this cover-up crap.
The tough-as-nails crew ends up uncovering a secret list of experiments on Hydra Tech’s website and decide to spring Zeke before it’s too late. Armed with some bad ass dirt bikes and nun-chucks, off they go to get their homie and blow the cover off this corporate sham.
Everyone is going to notice similarities in the review of this movie and the next, Rave to the Grave. Both were filmed back to back and use almost the exact same lifeless cast. If there was a grade worse than F in the department of direction, Necropolis would easily take the cake. There is so much boring conversation in this film it is at best yawn inducing. I am left to wonder if the director/producer even bothered to get involved while this gem was being created.
Sometimes cliches are ok, especially when they make fun of themselves or lack a serious tone. The characters here are so stereotypical it hurts to watch. None of these folks gel or carry themselves in even the most remotely interesting manner. The level of acting is on par with a middle school production. The click of kids are so lifeless and unlike teenagers that had it not been for the dirt bikes, I would have thought these were “30 somethings” trying to act like teenagers.
How is it these almost squeaky clean high schoolers can operate firearms like Army Rangers? What the hell were the mining helmets for when the crew broke into Hydra Tech? I get some areas were dark but their bikes have headlights and there were flashlights. I cannot count on four hands how many times I questioned some odd crap in this movie. An alternate name for the title could have been, “Return of the Damn Plot Holes“.
This movie did an excellent job of ignoring certain rules and past pieces of the series. Why the hell are zombies going down from torso shots? Never in the previous movies were zombies dispatched with so much ease. The later part of the movie when the team is in Hydra Tech playing “shooting gallery” was pitiful. The last two movies in the series missed so much that at least keeping series musts, like zombies must die by decapitation or head shot, would be a no-brainer.
As mentioned earlier, why the hell did we decide to change the name of the flagship Trioxin 2-4-5 to Trioxin 5? There was no back story here at all. Was this a more advanced version of the chemical? Were these the same containers that bore monsters like the Tarman? I would like to know who decided to change the roots of the series and then have a zombie get on the intercom and ask for more security guards to be sent. No one will ever know so let’s just chalk it up to sloppy/offensive writing.
What is the deal with Uncle Charlie’s expressions? I had no idea if he was trying to disagree with someone else’s point of view or crap his pants. Given the awesomeness of this feature I hope it was the later. Complaining about Charlie’s contorted face is a moot point considering none of the other actors showed any emotion throughout the movie. Wait, I might be wrong, there was that one scene where our hacker/token black guy busts out a pair of nun-chucks on a zombie to save his beloved crew. This scene was so lame on so many levels it will never be forgotten.
I hate to say it but this movie has so much more in common with House of the Dead than Return of the Living Dead. There’s a scene where one of “the crew” throws his gun down and says, “It’s game time!” before taking on a zombie in hand to hand combat. This is not the only instance that brought about the comparison, but easily one of the best.
The two super cyborg zombies at the end of the feature also seemed quite “borrowed”. The male cyborg with a mini gun looked a lot like RoboCop with a fungal infection, while the female sports some type of Predator hair style. Neither of these boss-type zombies seemed original at all. Much like the rest of this movie, they were lifeless and uninteresting.
I really wanted to like the comeback of this series, but the last two made for TV movies forced me not to. This movie was perfectly on it’s way to a “6 pack party” but Rave to the Grave is absolutely the worst. Necropolis did have some pretty solid make-up and effects. The movie also had a surprising amount of gore, with some good head biting and flesh tearing.
Zombie movies overall are becoming one of the most watered down horror genres today. Every rag tag crew seems to have written or produced one. Most days I will watch any of them because some are actually so bad, they are good. Necropolis does not achieve this and sits stranded in just plain bad.
Don’t go too far now kids. Up next we have the final and worst installment in the Return of the Living Dead series, Rave to the Grave.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: anytime some lacking dialogue brings about “eye rolling”.
Slam a Beer: each time a plot hole makes you go “What the F*ck?
Pound a Shot: whenever a series rule is disregarded or just plain changed.