by Steven Wandling
The term reimagining gets tossed around a lot in the film world as of late. When audiences were finally tired of hearing the word remake, marketing executives everywhere quickly wised up in all the wrong ways and collectively said ‘it isn’t a remake, it’s a reimagining.’ The only problem with that, is it’s often just a parlor trick used to call something that has become distasteful something nicer and has the added benefit of sounding more elevated than just a straight up remake. In general, be wary of such terms and pay attention to who, how and why they are used. Lucky for viewers, Necropolis: Legion is an outstanding gothic film that is stacked to the gills with mood, atmosphere, and surrealistic nightmares to keep you frightened, and even a little stimulated, the whole night through. Filmmaker, musician, journalist, and all around horror icon, Chris Alexander has truly reimagined 1986’s Necropolis in his own image and it works on every conceivable level.
Necropolis: Legion takes the skeleton of the original 80s exploitation cult film and fills it with the DNA of Alexander’s influences without ever feeling derivative of one of them. Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Blood and Black Lace) can be felt throughout the entirety of the film in a subtle way that doesn’t feel like an Easter egg, fan service, or a straight rip off. Alexander is quite adept at evoking classic gothic imagery through his own creative lens and it works. Eerily quiet scenes are filled with beautiful genre imagery like bright full moons, centuries old graveyards, and late night Satanic black masses that evoke one of the masters of 70s Euro arthouse sleaze, Jess Franco (Vampyros Lesbos, The Diabolical Dr. Z). Necropolis: Legion is sexy, disturbing, and moody in all the right ways.
Both Ali Chappell (Eva) and Augie Duke (Lisa) kill it in their respective leads as they face off in a battle over Lisa’s very soul. Without spoiling the film, the basic outline of Alexander’s Necropolis is similar on paper to the original’s. Eva, a Satanic vampiric witch, must seduce and win over a new bride to live on after being stopped, by her preacher husband, the last time she tried to rise from Hell a century ago. It definitely pays homage to Necropolis and stays true to it in spirit, but Legion is a beast all its own. Ali Chappell adds a little more Satanic High Priestess feel to her Eva and less sexy punk than LeeAnne Baker (Breeders). Duke has the most screen time and does such a good job showing Lisa’s mindset as she slips into an ever-escalating isolated state of mind-altering fear and paranoia that is reminiscent of Catharine Deneuve in Repulsion (1965). Both actresses are ones to keep an eye on if their performances here are any indication. Also, get excited for horror veteran Lynn Lowry (Shivers, The Crazies) in a scene-stealing performance and as the centerpiece of a beautiful Lynchian moment that should have any cinema fan admiring its beauty.
Necropolis: Legion has such a different and arguably better rhythm then the original film, but I really don’t want to turn this article into a comparison of two wildly different movies. As already stated, Legion is a true reimagining in the sense of the Soska Sisters’ Rabid (2019) or even Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007), regardless of how you feel about that one. All three of these projects are not just simple remakes and don’t reek of any studio just trying to cash in on the never-ending deluge of nostalgia. Full Moon Features is behind this new Necropolis, and the film fits nicely at home among the array of other genre classics they have produced throughout the decades. Chris Alexander puts the viewer in the mindset of Lisa, who is quickly unraveling due to the psychosexual dream-like call of Eva to embrace her in darkness, and the film is all the better for having that centered point of view. It’s as much about what Lisa is experiencing physically, emotionally, and mentally as it is about Eva trying to reclaim a human host and rise up to wreak havoc on the Earth.
The opening of this film is shocking, sexy, and beautiful all while still being disturbing and having a giant ‘what the fuck’ factor that you just look away from as an audience. The props, especially the one involving Eva’s breasts, (if you thought six tits was wild, wait until you lay your eyes on these) are all killer no filler and add a lot of visceral thrills to the proceedings. The tone of Necropolis: Legion is a great blend of Italian horror, folk horror, and Euro 70s exploitation that somehow doesn’t feel like a purposeful throwback. There’s also a great subtle nod to Clive Barker’s seminal Hellraiser and a terrifying idea that evil isn’t really something that can ever fully be stopped.
The film is beautifully shot, looks fantastic, and has killer practical effects. That’s not to mention the fact that there are great performances all across the board. The only complaint is that there isn’t more of it. With a runtime of just over an hour, I would love to see even more of this world through Chris Alexander’s lens. Then again, don’t they always say leave them wanting more? In the case of Necropolis: Legion, they certainly do.
Thanks so much for reading! Chris Alexander’s Necropolis: Legion will premiere on November 29th on Full Moon Features streaming service. If you like what you’ve read, please share this article with all your horror loving friends! Please follow creepylovely on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! If you would like to write for us, just give us a shout on private messenger or DM! Stay tuned to http://www.creeepylovely.com for all things dark&strange in cinema&beyond! Stay lovely! Stay creepy!