When I heard that we were to get not just 1 new Return of the Living Dead movie but 2, back-to-back I was pretty stoked. It promised to stay true to the series roots while offering a fresh take on a tired-looking zombie genre. Even the knowledge that they would be ‘made for TV’ movies did little to dampen my excitement.
I never expected what we ended up with….
Upon release the 4 in the title was dropped & the movie was called Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis. I later found out that this was because the movie bore little resemblance to any of the previous movies.
The movie opens with Charles Garrison travelling to Chernobyl where he meets some shady Eastern European characters.
He is there to buy the last of the Trioxin canisters (Similar to the original canisters) but one leaks turning one of the mobsters into a zombie where he attacks the others. The zombies are dispatched with ease (headshots – can you believe?) & Charles takes the Trioxin canisters back to his company, Hybra Tech.
Hybra Tech provide wide-ranging services to the general public & have previously dealt with a zombie outbreak (that could be linked to the original movies, I guess). However unknown to the general public they are in involved in shady experiments involving the living dead of which Charles is the head of.
We are then introduced to a group of college kids who manage to set out all their stereotypes within 2 minutes. We have the nerd, the hacker, the nice guy, the blonde chick with lose morals & the mean guy. Interestingly enough all of these kids seem to go to a school in America that is filled with Eastern European students (The movie was filmed in Romania & filled with cast & crew from the country).
So long story short, Zeke, the friend of nice guy Julian is a bit of dick. He suspects Julian is trying to get it on with his ex so constantly reminds him of the ‘bro code’ by saying “bro & dude” a lot. It is really annoying…
After goading & failing to get Julian to do a dangerous motorbike jump he shows off & hurts himself ending up in hospital. His friends go to visit him & find out he had a reaction to medication & died.
Meanwhile Zeke’s ex & Julian’s love interest, Katie works for Hybra Tech as a security guard. The same night that Zeke dies in hospital she sees him being wheeled in on a hospital gurney into the Hybra Tech building. Realising something isn’t right she & the group led by Julian decide to infiltrate Hybra Tech & rescue Zeke.
Meanwhile Charles (who turns out to be Julian’s uncle who looks after him & his brother since the death of their parents) is using live specimens like Zeke to experiment with the living dead. One experiment accidently releases Trioxin through a pipe in an alley outside infecting a dead rat & 2 homeless guys…this is the very same alley that our heroic kids are about to arrive in to infiltrate Hybra Tech. The re-animated rat made me chuckle a bit as it was being cooked at the time.
The rest of the movie sees a full-scale zombie outbreak, Hybra Tech’s plan for world domination, friends loyalties tested & a lot of death. Sounds pretty good right? Well it’s not.
In fact it is terrible with almost no redeeming features. It makes a mockery of the Return name & manages to get everything wrong. I’ll start with the one thing this movie should never have gotten wrong, the zombies. Within the first few minutes it had all gone south with the Chernobyl zombies being dispatched with headshots! The speed in which an infected Trioxin human would transform differed throughout the movie as well, with the early ones taking minutes & the later ones taking hours.
During the Hybra Tech outbreak the zombie’s weakness drops to such a level that some are dispatched with shots to the chest…you know like normal people! Now the zombie version of Zeke might have been a decent idea as he maintains a semblance of humanity as he turns slowly however that goes all out the window once he is a fully fledged zombie. The problem isn’t that he is chatty as hell as a zombie, the problem lies is that he decides to have a fist fight with Julian over Katie. His drive for brains doesn’t exist & other than a decent make-up job you couldn’t tell he was a zombie.
Make-up can’t be faulted for most of the zombies but I can’t get past the Hybra Tech zombie soldiers look.
Seem familiar? This is what they remind me of…
The freakin’ Borg from Star Trek!
The plot that these would be controlled zombies used to take over the world is laughable when a group of college kids can infiltrate the Hybra Tech building as easily as they did. Ignoring the fact they kill 2 zombie hobo’s to get in at first & seem to not really care bothered me & that one of the characters decided to go all kung-fu on them with nunchucks made the whole thing even dumber.
They aren’t the worst group of actors you will ever see & they manage to deliver some of the worst lines in horror with a straight-face. However the ones that are bad are really, really bad & because of that they stand out way more. Carlos the security guard is terrible, so terrible that it is offensive. It is summed up by him checking out Katie’s ass as she leaves & saying “nice pooper”. Who says that to describe a woman’s butt? ‘Cause you know poop is sexy….That he gets lucky later in the movie made me sad (With the blonde haired, lose morals character shockingly).
…and there you have it that is the feeling that Return of the Living Dead 4 left me with, sadness. Whatever attempt was made to make a homage to the original was lost along the way. The decision to film & cast Romanian actors as Americans was down-right stupid, there are no humorous moments beyond terrible acting & a ending setting up the 5th movie hardly made me want to watch it.
Considering the high death count at the hands of the dead there isn’t that much gore. There are moments that look ok but they are too few & far between.
This guy looked pretty good though…
Oh & the heavy metal soundtrack is terrible….badly placed & generic as hell. Always kicking in during a fight scene, it reminded me off the House of the Dead movie & that is not a good thing.
One of the worst horror movies I have ever seen & total dis-respect to the series & genre as a whole. It’s lazy & clearly designed to cash in on fans like me. The only positives I can manage to take out of the movies relate to make-up & some of the acting but this is me stretching for it. I don’t think it is possible to make a movie this bad by accident, you have to be trying.
Return Of The Living Dead: Necropolis