Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day of the Turkey Review: Necropolis

Necropolis (1987)
Starring: LeeAnne Baker, Jacquie Fitz, Andrew Bausili, and Michael Conte
Director: Bruce Hickey
Producers: Tim Kincaid, Cynthia De Paula, and Charles Band
Rating: One of Ten Stars

A witch (Baker) executed with her coven before she could complete a ritual to gain immortality, is reincarnated in modern times and returns to her old haunts--New York City, which stands where once New Amsterdam was--and sets about resurrecting the members of her old coven by sucking the souls out of pimps, hookers, and random trashy people. She also intends to complete the ritual to make herself and her coven immortal by finally sacrificing the soul she had targeted centuries earlier, which has also been reincarnated in modern times as a journalist (Fitz).

"Necropolis" is a schlocky, amateurish horror film originally released through Charles Band's Empire Pictures... and it has been dredged up from the dim past for release as one of the initial offerings in Full Moon's "Grindhouse" DVD series.

For that, it is perfect. This is the sort of garbage movie that represents the level of quality that most of those drive-in and B-movies embodied. It's got an illogical, badly paced script, atrocious acting, and pathetic special effects. But as a movie that's worth your time and money? I would say not.

That's not to say there isn't a sort of rough charm about it. It was also interesting enough to keep me watching in an effort to make sense of what the reincarnated witch was up to, why she was going about it the way she was, and why she remembered that she was reincarnated but no one else knew. And I also wanted to find out how she knew that the soul she was after was in New York City. I never did get any of those answers, but I was treated to the silliest witch dance this side of the improv jazz ballet featured in "The Witch's Mountain".

If you've got friends that like mocking films as they unfold, this might be worth checking out. Otherwise, I think this might be a film to skip. (That said, the DVD does feature some interesting bonus material, such as an interview with Charles Band discussing the hows and whys of his "Full Moon Grindhouse" series, and a handful of short films.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

At least the preview is great!

Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt (2011)
Starring: Erica Rhodes, Chelsea Leigh Edmundson, Olivia Alexander, Ariana Madix, and Lauren Furs
Producer: Charles Band
Director: Charles Band
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Jenna (Rhodes) recruits some friends (Alexander, Edmundson, Furs, and Madix) to set up the Halloween haunted house she runs with her mother. They soon trade work for getting half-naked and drinking while watching a cheesy horror movie they find in a box, "The Killer Eye". However, a magic crystal ball has a strange reaction to the movie and the half-naked girls... it brings a model of the Killer Eye from the movie to life, and the proceeds to make the movie a reality as well.

I give "Killer Eye: Halloween" haunt some credit for being a clever non-sequel to the original film. By making it just a movie within the world of the sequel, it both embraces and dismisses the suckitude it represents. For details, click here to read my review of "The Killer Eye". --it may well be the worst movie to appear under the Full Moon banner. Not even Jacqueline Lovell and Blake Bailey could do anything to save it.

I disliked the first film so much that I fully intended to ignore this sequel--I don't seek out films that I know I'm going to hate--but the fine folks at Full Moon sent me a little care package that included it and three other films. And on the disc of one of those other films ("Necropolis," which is debuting on DVD as part of Full Moon's Grindhouse series... and which I'll review next) was the preview for "Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt".

And what a great preview it was. It got me very excited to watch this film. In fact, it got my hopes up to the point where I thought THIS might be the film that would mark the return of the Charles Band who gave me "The Creeps" and "Blood Dolls". Or at least "Doll Graveyard".

But, as I settled in to watch the film, I quickly realized that I was not in for an old-time Full Moon experience, but something closer to the generally lackluster offerings that Band has delivered since the turn of the millennium.

The two biggest problems this time out is that what passes for the razor-thin story in the film is so flimsy that it barely manages to hold the scenes together, resulting in a sense that the film consists of vignettes rather than a coherent whole. Secondly, the characters are even flimsier than the plot, only qualifying as such in the most general sense as they barely rise above the level of stereotypes... and when you have a cast of actresses who seem to have been hired more for their bodies than their acting talents, giving them and the audience a little more meat on the movie's bones is a necessity.

The comedy in this horror comedy is virtually non-existent and the horror is in short supply as well--with the exception of the final 15-20 minutes. As the film is building to its conclusion, we finally get some of the Charles Band Magic that we loved so much. If the rest of the film had been this focused and driven, this could have been a classic that lived up to the promise of the preview.

In fairness, as disappointed as I was in this film, it was a great improvement over "The Killer Eye"; it is as the sequel to "Gingerdead Man" was to the film it followed. I also appreciate the fact that more effort seems to have been put into the sets than in other recent offerings, such as "Gingerdead Man 3" and "Evil Bong 3D". Finally, the use of computer-generated special effects is more artfully applied here than in films with budgets ten times what Band and his crew work with... the computer generated gore splatter in one instance was very well done. However, those improvements just wasn't quite enough to make it a worthwhile picture.

That said... if you're a fan of Charles Band and Full Moon, the final bits of the film might be worth watching for. And even before it gets good, you can always enjoy the pretty young girls in very little clothing.

And you can silently weep at what could have been, especially in the light of this killer preview: