Encase you’re unaware, I’ve made a commitment to review all the films from Charles Bands’ Deadly Ten series – a series that began with Weedjies: Halloweed Night. I wouldn’t say I expect this new brand to breathe new life into Full Moon Features, a company I’ve poured a lot of time in on Mashers Club, but I am hopeful that it might lead to some enjoyable romps, at the very least. I’ve committed to doing so as a “thank you,” so-to-speak, as their Deadly Ten influenced an uptick in my own productivity (I’m hopeful of having my seventh, eighth, ninth, and, with a little luck, my tenth novel available this year). Weedjies showed small glimpses of the cheesy charm and likability that brought Full Moon to the dance, but it culminated as “a middling film in the curved expectations I have for modern Full Moon Features,” perhaps, Necropolis: Legion can turn the tides in the Deadly Ten’s favor?
Evil is afoot in Necropolis: Legion, that much is clear to see early on, but even I wasn’t prepared for the worst of it all – the opening credits are barely over a minute of the film’s runtime! What kind of Full Moon Feature is this!? Necropolis: Legion is a horror-fantasy directed by Chris Alexander, a director I can’t say I’m familiar with. The screenplay was written by Chris, as well as a man named Brockton McKinney, whose work can be seen in a lot of the more recent Full Moon Features like the Evil Bong series. Necropolis: Legion acts as a reimagining of the 1986 Empire Pictures film Necropolis, which I haven’t actually seen yet.
The film begins with, … oh, wait, … there’s the actual opening credits (ten minutes into the hour film). Necropolis: Legion tells of a satanic vampire sorceress named Eva, whose rituals are interrupted when she’s attacked and murdered by “God-fearing local villagers,” ones that look like they’re cut-and-pasted straight from Frankenstein or something of the sort. A century later, a motorcycle-riding writer named Lisa visits the cabin where Eva was executed with hopes of writing a book about the history of the cabin. She then finds herself visited through vivid hallucinations as the evil sorceress attempts to use her as a vessel to commit atrocities, all in the hopes of resurrecting an ancient monster from the underworld.
Necropolis: Legion’s depiction of Eva is enough to tell you a lot about the film. Frankly put, her breasts have mouths and teeth, and they’re ferocious! The runtime for most Full Moon Features’ often are on the shorter side. Necropolis: Legion, however, is particularly short. I don’t complain about this with Full Moon, in-fact, it’s an aspect I often enjoy. It allows an absurdist concept to get in and get out before it runs out of air. One of the benefits of Necropolis short length is I can actually collect and organize my thoughts in an orderly fashion.
The storyline in Necropolis: Legion is nothing we haven’t seen prior, in-fact, it’s rather familiar and conventional. How many horrors have been about an abandoned building or a haunted cabin or something of the same ilk? It’s familiar, but, at the same time, classical, it’s cozy in a nostalgic sort-of way. Unfortunately, the first half-hour of Necropolis are particularly slogging and bland. Things just sort-of … happen. Lisa, our writer-friend, is at a book signing and is warned by a mysterious old-woman to stay away from the evil, spooky house, and ignores it. The next scene is her talking about it to a tape-recorder after exploring the cabin and the yard. Then, she spills a glass-bottle! Then, she goes to bed. Then, she comes downstairs, having forgotten about the glass-bottle, and steps on it! Such shenanigans! The blood soaks through the floorboard and, thus, Eva has begun to reform. That’s the first half of the film.
Have you ever heard the saying “Never judge a book by its cover”? That statement applies suitably to what awaits viewers of Necropolis: Legion. Full Moon Features can oftentimes be grouped in with the sleazy underbelly of the horror realm, and although I try to carve out my own little niche, enjoying oddball flicks like Re-Animator and Head of the Family, I can’t say it doesn’t apply. Necropolis: Legion’s cover-work features breast-monstrosities that suggest a light-heart and B-movie production, filled to the brim with silly mayhem. That isn’t what Necropolis: Legion is, however. Like some of the best Full Moon Features’, Necropolis: Legion plays straight. Only difference is, Necropolis isn’t as light-heart and feels dead serious throughout. Necropolis comprises itself of surrealism that masquerades as actual depth, filled with sensory-overloaded visual that are all flash with no substance or particular vision behind them.
It’s all very been there, done that, stitched together in an inorganic fashion, bolstering contrived exposition and artificial suspense. The film on-screen is bland and generic, whereas the music is, strangely, by-far my favorite aspect. When I’d watched the film, I had assumed Chris Alexander had composed the score (along with directing and writing), as I did think it sounded like Richard Band. To my surprise though, it is, in-fact, Richard Band behind the music of this film. Let’s make something clear – the score in Necropolis: Legion is overbearing as hell. It’s constant and it isn’t nuanced or subtle. Honestly, it feels like a whopping eighty-percent of this film might have been backed by an instrument, whether it was a Phantom of the Opera / Dracula sound on the piano or spiritual harmonies or gentle guitar strumming, this film might as well have been backed by an instrumental album. The way it was presented often felt like it was being used more as a crutch to help appease the foundations of the more abstract aspects of the film, but it wasn’t enough to escape the superficial insensibilities of the feature. Had the score been mixed in a less egregious fashion for a film harkening back to the classic Universal and Hammer style monster horror, I think it could have done an amicable job capturing that feel.
I didn’t think I’d like this film. However, I wanted to like this film. I offered it a chance, expecting, at the very least, some level of entertainment. The film’s off-putting tonal inconsistencies, striving for a level of seriousness its own subject-matter wouldn’t allow, kept it from achieving the light-heart Full Moon humor that was at least touched on in Full Moon’s last outing, and instead, I found it to be one of my least favorite of the Full Moon brand altogether.