B-Independent Underground Movie of the year
Steve | Canada | 03/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bob the Alcoholic goes to Zombie Land and drops a Herculean Smackdown on some undead ass in the White Brother's NECROPOLIS AWAKENED, the most ambitious micro-budget horror effort to cross my desk. Ever. Period. Bar None. It's a true testimony to the results that a little desire and a good deal of hard work will get you. And as my farmer neighbors are prone to repeating, "nothing ain't worth doing if it ain't worth doing right." Bob the Alcoholic, a character molded in the vain of Ash from ARMY OF DARKNESS, has been holed up in a cave for weeks. His peaceful desert hometown has been taken over by a corporation of undead zombies, called Neo-Genentrix, who use the locals as cattle. Hermit-like to begin with, it isn't until members of his own estranged family are put in jeopardy that Bob takes matters into his own hands. Be it blasting lead or bare-knucked brawling, Bob's going to make sure that undead heads are gonna role...or go "splat." The idea of an Undead Corporation takes George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD view of consumerism a step farther. Rather than reflecting the cattle-like nature of blind consumerism, the White's capture the soulless nature of corporate greed and the capitalistic desire to infest every home with one's wears. The ultimate goal of head zombie, Nefarious Thorne, a Bill Gates by way of Beelzebub figure, is to eventually monopolize the undead market and create a zombie dictatorship modeled after Hitler's regime. The guy even has his own swastika-like Neo-Genentrix logo emblazoned on every piece of company-owned merchandise from cars and trucks down to the gestapo-like getups worn by his gang of zombie stormtroopers. Short of asking them directly, I have no way of knowing if the White's set out to make a politically-based action/horror film that's as equally fun as it is smart, but there are too many elements that fall perfectly into place for NECROPOLIS AWAKENED to be some sort of "happy accident". With any luck, you'll see this one on the video shelves in the near future and get to judge for yourself. Allen Richards..."
Potential for greatness, but never quite gets there.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 09/24/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Necropolis Awakened (Garrett White, 2002)
Garrett White's debut film, Necropolis Awakened, had a small budget. Okay, a really small budget. I'm not sure exactly what the budget was, but I'm guessing that the $7,000 on which Robert Rodriguez made El Mariachi was an A-list Hollywood budget, by comparison. Did I mention the budget was minuscule?
The box says Necropolis Awakened is "Pulp Fiction meets Day of the Dead," but I'd have to say that the copywriter was a little over-ambitious (and probably didn't have too much wide-ranging experience in movies). Necropolis Awakened is a lot more like El Mariachi meets The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. And the one thing, aside from both resembling this movie in major ways, those two films have in common is that, while most people find them unwatchable, there are a small cadre of those who think they're brilliant. I have no doubt that Necropolis Awakened, too, will find a place on the shelf of sacred low-budget films in a number of households.
The story: a team of assassins, headed up by the insane Judas (Duke White), have been hired by the head of the Genentech Corporation, Nefarious Thorne (Brandon White). Thorne has been using the town of Sky Hook, Oregon, as an experiment, creating undead from the townspeople. He's eliminated them all in one way or another except for the reclusive drunk, Bob (Duke White). That's what Judas and his sidekicks, Gog (Brandon White) and Detroit (Brandon Dubisar), are here for. Once Bob's out of the way, the undead can boil up out of the depths of Sky Hook, Oregon, and take over the world.
Well, except that when one boils up out of Sky Hook, Oregon, one is likely to have a pretty long walk before one gets to civilization, much less taking over the world. That's the kind of subtle weirdness the movie has going on underneath the surface. White uses the isolation of his locations to great advantage, as he does a number of other details where his movie differs from every other zombie movie you've ever seen (when was the last time you saw zombies that didn't try to consume human flesh?). There's a lot of potential lying untapped in the zombie-movie market with variants, as Hollywood recently discovered with the fast-zombie craze. White, however, had started in on the variant-zombie market before Hollywood got there. Surprise, surprise, an independent filmmaker came up with something first. Perish the thought.
As well, White has studied the horror-film camerawork playbook, and it shows. A lot of independent and no-budget films look amateur not only because they're not using professional quality film stock, but because the cameraman just doesn't really have the observancy to have picked up on subtle shots while watching old horror films himself. Both White and cinematographer Coren Slogowski have obviously logged a whole lot of hours in front of the video deck taking notes. Many of the shots that work, when done right, in horror films are here. This is an amateur production, but an amateur production by a gifted, but inconsistent, crew.
The inconsistency comes most times while in front of the camera. Most of the actors (as with Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead, the actors and the crew are often the same folks) are uniformly bad. Necropolis Awakened is a study in overacting. However, it does have some moments of brilliance even in this regard; Duke White (whose early soliloquy after Bob first encounters Tiden in the film is the movie's single worst piece of overacting) brings a twitchy, backwoods-redneck feel to Judas that really works. Judas, however, is the only character the audience is likely to see as anything more than an overacted cutout.
Also, certain cuts made (watch the deleted scenes in the DVD extras) lead to certain pieces of the finished film not making quite enough sense without the deleted material, but it's impossible to fault an indie film for that when Hollywood makes the same mistake on almost every film it releases.
Overall, it's hard to call Necropolis Awakened "watchable," and it's impossible to call it a horror film. But if you look at it as an action comedy by a group of people who, given a budget and some real actors to put in front of the cameras, have potential out the ying-yang, then Necropolis Awakened is a valuable archival document. Garrett White and his brothers are going places (and taking Slogowski with them, hopefully), and a whole lot of worse first steps on that road have been made than Necropolis Awakened. ** ½
Worst Movie I have ever seen!
Florence K. Casertano | Rockville, Maryland United States | 02/27/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The premise and some of the special effects were good, but the acting was awful! I cant' believe so many people loved this movie. I can honestly say it was the worst movie I ever have seen. My husband and a movie going friend of ours also hated it (and he normally likes quirky movies).
One of the reviewers I read said, "Wow, look what they did on a $7500.00 budget." Maybe they should have used some of that money for acting lessons for Duke White! I still think that they made the movie with intentional bad acting!I bought this movie solely on these reviews (which I have done many times before) and this is the first time I was steered very wrong. A word to anyone wanting to buy this movie, save your money and don't do it. It is not even worth renting! I wish I could have given it zero stars!"
The Source Magazine review
David Allen | New York, NY | 01/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Necropolis Awakened opens with a car chase through wide-open sage plateau country. Two cars full of white shirted henchmen are hot on the trail of our hero, Bob, the last sentient resident of the town of Skyhook. Just as Bob is within their grasp, one of the Assassins pulls a gun and fires on his own, sending their car careening into the dust.What follows is a chronicle of Bob's effort to defeat the evil plans of Nefarious Thorne and his undead zombies. Thorne, the leader of a company called Neo-Genentrix, has chosen Skyhook for his evil experiment and only Bob and his nephew can stop them. The two remaining Assassins, after executing their traitorous partner, are hot on his trail.Part of the delight of watching this flick had to do with knowing it was mader for under $7,500, but beyond that, I was surprised at just how good Necropolis Awakened was.Sure, the plot if pretty standard zombie-flick fare, but what impressed me was the ambitious effort at details. A couple of action sequences are impressively staged and shot, particularly a rollicking free for all on an old Ford Pinto. Nefarious Thorne is truly creepy, as is the scene featuring the zombiefication of the traitor Assassin. I also loved how the filmmakers managed to use a lot of the cattle range equipment at their disposal ( squeeze chutes, hay barns and so forth. ) to create atmosphere.The result is a pretty heroic effort. Necropolis Awakened packs a lot of jury-rigged ingenuity and ambition, as well as the odd rocket launcher, into it's 93 minutes."