|Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis
2005 - R - 90 Mins.
|Director: Ellory Elkayem
|Producer: Anatoly Fradis, Steve Scarduzio
|Written By: William Butler, Aaron Strongoni
|Starring: Aimiee-Lynn Chadwick, Cory Hardrict, John Keefe, Jana Kramer, Peter Coyote
|Review by: Chris Beaumont
|Official Site: www.returnofthelivingdead4and5.com/
It's been a long time since I've seen any of the Return of the Living Dead movies, to be honest, I can't even recall if I've ever seen Part II. Being that my last viewing was some time in the somewhat distant past, my grasp on details is a little fuzzy. At any rate, the returning dead are back for another go around, the first since 1993. There are 2 new sequels, Necropolis and Rave to the Grave. I am here to take a look at the first one, Necropolis.
Don't look behind you...
The show starts with the introduction of a new company, very much in the vein of Resident Evil's Umbrella Corporation, called Hybra Tech. They are behind everything from consumer products to military weapons, snack food to toxic waste disposal (hmmmm, want another Twinkie?). Their main claim to fame appears to be their containment of any zombie outbreaks, and their primary role in keeping the world zombie free for over a decade (since Part 3).
Not everything is fine and dandy with this all encompassing company however, as they are also doing illegal testing on human subjects using a modified version of the Trioxin 245 gas from the original films, called Trioxin 5. The scene shifts for more than the first hour to a group of high school kids going about their daily routine: who's dating who, going to class, jumping motorcycles, you know, the usual. That is until one of the kids gets hurt and finds himself a part of the experiments.
It is up to the rest of the kids to help him escape. This is where the zombie fun begins. All of the experimental creatures get loose and start wreaking havoc. For the last 40 minutes or so we are treated to a barrage of zombie violence. This includes bullets to the head, the backs of skulls getting bitten off, bodies getting run over, and more gore than I expected to see on the Sci-Fi Channel. Then there are the Borg (Star Trek) inspired zombie parents of the main kid. It ends, of course, with the good guys winning, but the battle apparently just beginning, as the chief scientist escapes with the last remaining barrel of chemicals.
You may notice a lack of character names. Well they were so inconsequential that I don't recall any of them.
The movie is not all that good. For one thing it doesn't seem to obey any of the previously established rules of the earlier films in the series, nor does it set up any of it's own. This results in a mishmash of acceptable ways to kill a zombie. Zombies die by head shots, multiple body shots, a broken neck, with no discernable pattern. In this respect, the zombie fan in me was sorely disappointed. You need to have some rules in these films, and considering the series that this supposedly is a part of, it would have been nice to have some references to it.
The acting is sub par. None of the kids strike me as terribly bright, especially the guy who wants to see his zombie parents. This requires the group to traverse the facility through oncoming waves of the undead. The dialog is bad, the characters say stupid things to each other, and pretend that it's serious. Then there is the usually dependable Peter Coyote, playing the the scientist. He has this goofy grin on his face most of the time, as if to say: "Yeah I needed the paycheck." You would have expected him to die, but I guess you'll have to wait for the sequel. Maybe he has alimony payments.
A big problem here is that the filmmakers seem to have forgotten the comedic elements of the series which defined it. Necropolis plays everything straight, any laughs are unintentional. There was one line of homage: "Send more security guards." Too bad it was rather clumsily wedged in there.
Overall, 'Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis' is better than your average Sci-Fi Original, but as a Return of the Living Dead sequel, it doesn't measure up. I'm glad I didn't pay to see it, but by the same token, I don't regret the time I invested Every once in awhile all you need is a corny, doesn't make sense and sense, zombie movie, especially during the Halloween season.