May 20, 2014

Movie Review: Necropolis (1987)

Love him or hate him, Charles Band has carved out a fascinating little niche in low budget filmmaking. You could probably look at him as a lower rent Roger Corman, maybe. While most people today are probably mostly familiar with his killer puppet output, be it Puppet Master, Demonic Toys, or even The Gingerdead Man, his history goes back way before that and his founding of Full Moon Pictures. He was also the head of companies like Empire Pictures and Wizard Video, where he was at the forefront of he burgeoning home video market through the late 70's and 80's. He helped guide such shlock as Necropolis to video stores all over.

To this day, people are still discovering his productions, and will likely to continue to do so for a long time. It is this ongoing discovery that brings us to Necropolis. This is a silly little slice of satanic cheese that is actually quite entertaining, it is also quite nonsensical. It has been released as part of Band's Grindhouse line of DVD releases and through his young streaming service. Sorry if I sound like an ad, not my intention. Still, this is a movie to check out for those curious about 80's cheeseball cinema.

Necropolis was written and directed by Bruce Hickey, it is the only movie he ever made. This is something that is easily understandable, but also a little sad. On one hand, this movie is really rather inept. The acting is bad, the dialogue is dreadful, the story makes no sense, by all accounts, this is not a good movie, nor is it even close to being well made. On the other hand, it has a certain charm, something that is hard to deny that makes it easy to watch that makes me wish Hickey had a couple more films like this to his name.

The movie begins with a subtitle telling us it is 1686 New Amsterdam. We follow a woman, dressed in black with flowing platinum hair (make that a bad wig), through a forest. She is a witch and she is other way to lead her coven in a satanic ritual where she ruins the wedding day for a young couple in her quest for eternal life. The ritual consists primarily of our witch, Eva, doing some odd interpretive dance number in cheap 80's lingerie. It does not end well as the bridal party attack and seemingly kill her.

We jump to 1987, Eva is inexplicably still alive, with a shorter haircut, punk attire, and a motorcycle. She is like Trash's little sister trying to be tough, you remember Linnea Quigley in Return of the Living Dead, right? Anyway, Eva heads into the city on a mission to retrieve the Devil's ring from some little shop. This is pretty funny as she keeps talking about how the owner advertised the ring. Well, it's not there, so she continues on tracking it down.

Whatever, the ring doesn't seem to matter. She kills folks, or gets them to kill themselves. Some of them come back as zombies to do Eric bidding. Of course, she wishes to complete the ritual to gain eternal life. Opposing her is a detective (Michael Conte, with an unusual pick up routine) and his date turned partner, a reporter name Dawn (Jacqui Fitz). These two work with a preacher named Tony (Andrew Bausilli), who had been in possession of the ring Eva was looking for.

Again, the movie makes no sense. Stuff happens, weird stuff, but it mostly happens with out context or consequence. What makes it watchable is the way it continues to surge forward, almost happy to be so much nonsense. I also benefits from an entertaining score, culled from other films like Trancers, The Alchemist, and Elimimators.

Another benefit is LeeAnne Baker, who stars as Eva. No, she is not a good actress, but it is a captivating performance. When she is on the screen, it is very hard to look away from her. Whether it is the bad line delivery or the terrible dance moves, she captures the essence of bad 80's genre films., this would be her only lead performance, although she does appear in such other cheesy genre flicks like Mutant Hunt (which is amazing), Breeders, and Galactic Gigolo before retiring from acting.

Necropolis is for certain types of movie fans only. I will never defend it as a good film, but it is entertaining and more than a little ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with that. Also, it should be noted there is a crazy sequence where Eva grows four extra breasts to feed her zombie coven. I am pretty sure you have never seen anything like that before. Also, isn't that poster art sweet?

It is a shame that the transfer looked so bad. You would think it would look better than it does considering it was originally made under Band's banner. Makes one wonder what condition the source is really in and if it could be restored at all. It probably isn't worth the expense, but I wouldn't mind seeing a cleaned up transfer.


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