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The Return of the Living Dead series began in 1985 and was a lovingly brutal homage/parody to the genre. The first two movies were intentionally funny, and had enough gore to make even the most totally desensitized sicko (me) happy. The third one; however, was only funny because it was so damn stupid. And really, how do your special effects get worse between 1985 and 1993? So the once proud series was banished to zombie limbo, never to return. Or so I thought.
Fast forward twelve years, and somebody at the Sci-Fi Channel decides to release not one, but two more installments. Yes, the fine people who brought you Mansquito and Dinocroc have dusted off this nearly-forgotten series and released two straight-to-TV movies. The first of these C-grade gems is called The Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis.
Everyone knows now that zombies are real, but thanks to a company called Hybratech it’s been over ten years since the last outbreak. Hybratech is a huge company that dabbles in everything from snack foods to nuclear waste disposal to zombie extermination. Sounds a lot like the Umbrella Corporation from Resident Evil, huh? A mad scientist bent on world domination is breeding zombies as bio-weapons in his lab at Hybratech (also a lot like Umbrella Corp.) that goes by the code name Necropolis. Why does there always have to be a mad scientist bent on world domination? Couldn’t it just for once be a really nice scientist trying to create the world’s cutest puppy when things go horribly awry?
His nephew, Julian, has a gaggle of stereotypical friends just waiting to get him into trouble. They’re all here: the nerd, the slut, the girl the hero likes, the thug, the badass, the black guy, and the dorky little brother who follows them around. Julian’s best friend Zeke (seriously, who came up with these names?) is abducted by Hybratech and his friends are the only ones who can save him. So rather than call the police or ask for help from any of the millions of people in the world that are smarter than them, they hop on their motorbikes to infiltrate the top-secret research facility and save Zeke. Gee, can you even imagine what happens next? Does the world’s cutest puppy escape and lick them all to death? No, they accidentally release a few hundred brain lovin’ zombies. Bet you didn’t see that coming!
There are so many problems with this movie that I only have time to cover the worst offenses here. So everyone in this little movie universe knows what zombies are, right? Hybratech has the only zombies left in existence, and their security guards don’t know how to kill them? One of the idiot teens even tries to take out a zombie with nunchucks! In a world where zombie outbreaks occurred as recently as twelve years ago you would think that people would have been told how to defend themselves. Sadly, special effects makeup has also taken another step back in time here. It’s 2005, people; you shouldn’t have to rely on cherry Kool-aid and liquid latex for gore. Also, the first two movies of this series taught us that these zombies crave brains. That doesn’t mean that all of the zombies have to moan “braaains” all of the time. It makes it difficult to believe that they could sneak up on someone. If they’re smart enough to have the capacity for speech then surely they should realize that yelling about brains constantly means that the only place they’re going to get a decent meal is at a school for the deaf. I was; however, pleasantly surprised that they allowed a twelve year old to get his skull chomped. There was actually a fair amount of skull chomping all around. The fact that it was satisfyingly crunchy and yet sickeningly slurpy owes much more to the foley artists than it does to the makeup department, but it was still nice.
I don’t know that the Sci-Fi Channel actually had anything to do with the production of this movie given the amount of deleted expletives, but it’s nice to see that the profits from Stargate SG-1 are helping to bring the world just a little more mindless crap. All in all though, I think Frankenfish was a much better waste of time.
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