Monday, December 16, 2019

Necropolis: Legion – review

Director: Chris Alexander

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

On the surface this film, a new release from Full Moon Features, might not seem like a vampire film – indeed I considered doing a “Playing with Tropes” for it. However, it is a reimagining of the 1986 flick Necropolis, which I class as a vampire film – albeit a vampiric witch. Like the original there is some (brief, in this) evidence of energy vampirism. Plus, the blurb on IMDb describes antagonist Eva (Ali Chappell) as a “satanic vampire sorceress”.

bearing a cross
The film is also directed by Chris Alexander, whose arthouse vampire films are: Blood for Irina, Queen of Blood and Blood Dynasty. I have a soft spot for these films and Alexander’s use of symbolism and inference. I have to say there is a tension I detected in this between Alexander’s love of arthouse and Euro-horror and the need to create a cohesive narrative for a Full Moon Feature schlock-horror.

ripped out heart
Starting in the past we meet Maynard Gandy (Joseph Lopez) holding a portrait of Eva, his wife. A farm hand (Adam Buller) comes in to tell him that the barn is secure and he will make his way home. He then decides to tell Gandy about Eva, suggesting that he has seen her go in the chapel and this is not the first time. He leaves and then Gandy seems to enter a vision and the farm hand returns holding out his ripped-out heart.

Joseph Lopez as Maynard Gandy
In the chapel Eva stands above a sacrificial victim (Goldie Rocket), and flanked by two neophytes referred to as gatekeepers (Zoe Georgaras & Stephanie Delorme). Her somewhat risqué outfit reveals that her breasts have mouths, with sharp teeth, rather than nipples. This is reminiscent of Eva in the original film, who has six electoplasm-producing breasts, and (much) later this Eva’s breasts will gush milk for her neophytes. She intones about “she who must live”. She cuts the hand of the victim, licks up the blood and then holds her to a breast – the mouth seeming to suck energy from her before it gnashes the flesh for the blood – yes, it’s a rare sighting of a vampiric breast.

eyes turn white
Gandy comes in and tries to ward her by holding out a cross. She comes forward and he starts to recite (what I assume was) an exorcism. Her eyes turn white and he stabs her in the heart… Modern day and Lisa (Augie Duke) comes around from what may have been a dream. She is in a bookstore about to do a signing of her book “Beyond Darkness” but her real reason for being in the town is to research Eva. She is approached by Zia (Lynn Lowry, Mostly Dead, My Stepbrother is a Vampire!?! & Rabid), who cuts the line, to warn her of uncovering Eva’s story – even mentioning her name gives her power. Lisa, of course, doesn’t listen.

Augie Duke as Lisa
Indeed, she is staying at Gandy’s farmhouse – and we get a cut foot dripping through the floorboards and causing a beating heart to reform (rebirth through spilt blood, of course, is heavily a genre trope) as well as possession. However, I don’t want to go any further as, with a short 61-minute run-time, we are quite a way into the film. Knowing the director’s work, it was clear this was a Chris Alexander vehicle, relying on his lead actress (with precious little dialogue) to project the narrative through actions, expressing her descent physically. However, there is more dialogue in this than in his previous work. It does suffer from not expanding on the story more conventionally – we don’t see any backstory to Eva becoming what she is (was she possessed, seduced, always demonic and married to Gandy for reasons known only to her dark heart?) EDIT: Chris Alexander has contacted me to say that the Eva backstory is given in a one-shot comic.

reforming heart
That said the effects are interesting – perhaps some of the fast cut moments, designed to be nightmarish, are much as one would expect relying on the disorientating impact of the editing as much as anything, but the heart reforming (for instance) looked great (perhaps a tad too much blood for a small cut in the foot, but who cares, it looked fab). The greater use of effects – and, of course, who can resist the idea of vampiric breasts, Ken Russell couldn’t – give this a fuller feel than perhaps his Irina films.

Lynn Lowry as Zia
This has clear elements that are related to the original film but it is definitely a reimagining rather than a remake. I can’t help but think that some viewers, searching for schlock, might be put off with the more Alexander-esque elements – but conversely it was actually those elements that did it for me. That said I stand by the idea that it needed a more expressly broadcasted narrative (and it had plenty of potential running time it could have used to do so). 5.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK (Full Moon Channel)

No comments: