Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Necropolis (1987)

Directed by Bruce Hickey
Starring LeeAnne Baker, Jacquie Fitz, Michael Conte
Rated R

"This is bullshit, man!"

LeeAnne Baker's mid 80's reign as an east coast b-goddess was brief but remarkable. Razor-coiffed, whippet-thin, and icy-cool, she was the polar opposite of LA's chesty, hairspray-powered scream queens, and she quickly became a instantly recognizable fixture in low-budget flicks shot in and around New York.  She was in and out of the biz in just two years, but all seven of the films she acted in retain some level of cult status, most notably Tim Kincaid's frequently jaw-dropping alien sperm slurper Breeders (1986) and Gorman Bechard's Connecticut-based comedies Psychos in Love (1987) and Galactic Gigolo (1988). While definitely more obscure than the others, Necropolis - AKA "The movie with the six-titted punk rock witch" - is a crucial piece of the Baker puzzle, since it remains her sole starring role.  Directed by future acting teacher Bruce Hickey, Necropolis is quintessential 80's direct-to-VHS shlock, a threadbare but enthusiastic riot of leather miniskirts, honking Casios, smudged eye make-up, and Satan.

In the action-packed prologue, wicked witch/Aimee Mann doppelganger Eva (Baker), does a tits-out disco dance on a Satanic altar. We are meant to believe this is all happening in some Medieval or Victorian era, although Eva's catsuit is straight out of the 1985 Fredrick's of Hollywood catalog. Using her demonic powers, she summons a bride - halfway through her vows - to her lair, wherein she slashes her throat and slurps on her blood. The angry villagers soon follow, and one of 'em guts the witch. Profusely bleeding, Eva just laughs at the foolish mortals, and vows that she will live forever.

Cut to: NYC, circa now (or as now as 1987 ever got). Eva is, indeed, still alive. She's sporting a punky, Sharon Mitchell-esque haircut and riding a motorcycle at this point, but it's still the same ol' evil Eva. She stops by a pawn shop and inquires about a "Devil ring" (what else?).

The shaky, asthmatic, weirdly-accented hippy that runs the joint tries to help her out - even offers to taker her to Atlantic City to see Frank Sinatra - but when he cannot deliver on the ring, she uses ESP to get into his head and kill him. So that happens. And then she splits, man. She says "Man" a lot, which I admire in a 500 year old witch.

Later on, she visits the local drug treatment center and uses mind control to make one of the workers slice his own wrists. Then she steals the ring - the priest who runs the joint had it hidden in a safe - and splits again.
And then she does some more Satanic disco dancing in somebody's basement. This time, it brings a handful of snot-oozing zombies around.

Back at the scene of the crime, the detective, the priest, and a female reporter wonder out loud whether something "Weird" is going on. And they are totally right, man. Something weird is definitely up.The priest says, "People tend to reincarnate in groups", because that explains how the three of them - who were all involved in Eva's medieval murder spree - are back together in the 80's.

But never mind all of that, because the important thing to know is that Eva has now sprouted two extra sets of boobs to feed her zombie slaves with. And that's what she does, when she's not convincing hookers to kill themselves or stuffing dead dudes in fridges.

So, you know how these things go. Eva kidnaps the detective so that she can kill her again (she is/was the doomed bride from the prologue) while the detective and the priest sharpen sticks (this particular witch works like a vampire), and prepare for a climactic regular-dudes-versus-Satanic-witch-and-a-cuppla-slimy-zombies final battle.

While it does boast a couple of quick gore effects - and Baker is frequently topless - Necropolis isn't nearly the sleaze-fest it could have been. In fact, a good portion of the film's running time is taken up with the half-baked drug clinic drama and the wishy-washy romance between the reporter and the cop. Still, for 80's junkfilm spelunkers, there's a few choice nuggets to unloose - the  all-synth soundtrack is spectacularly cheeseball, the Satanic hijinks are hilariously wrong-headed, and the ethereal Baker often seems like some kind of downtown avant-garde performance artist pretending to be a zero-budget splatter-queen for the sheer subversive thrill of it all. Sure, it makes very little sense, but then the 1980's, in general, made very little sense. That was part of the charm.

- Ken McIntyre

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