Film Review: 'Apocalypse Rising' blends space opera, zombies and the Bible
Giant Meteor Productions' science fiction/zombie film 'Apocalypse Rising' combines elements of genres that include sword-and-planet, peplum movies, the zombie film, dark comedy and Christian-themed films.
It recalls films such as 'Quartermass and the Pit,' 'God Told Me To' and 'Prince of Darkness' -- all of which combined elements of horror, science fiction and religious speculation.
The plot concerns a group of aliens that survive an interplanetary war involving zombies and flee to Earth in order to warn humanity while replenishing the number of their own race. The phallic appearance of their spaceship is no coincidence -- this film blends comedic sex elements with gallows humor (despite the number of sex scenes, there is no real nudity).
The good guys land in Jerusalem and connect with an archaeological expedition. The plot reveals that Christianity is rooted in veneration of a cosmic force that is worshiped within different contexts by both sides of the intergalactic war. Yes, zombies are involved.
The characters include a battle axe-wielding muscle man named Magnum (Shane Samples, who seems to be having with his part), a psychic visionary named Mia (an admirably straight-faced Hunter Parker) and a weaselly traitor (James Frey). None of the actors will win any awards for this film but they deliver what the material requires.
The quality of the film's production values, while mixed, are impressive. They reflect a vision that often exceeds the grasp of the filmmaker's resources but the attempt by director Richard Lowry is admirable.
The script by Gregory Wolk (adapted from his own novel 'The Dead S.I.T.E.') jumps between interesting or amusing ideas and genuine (and probably intentional) silliness too casually. The end result is at times jarring.
The end result throws too much at the wall in terms of both content and approach to be completely successful -- it seems at times like an unusually well-written film by The asylum. But its hard not to admire the intentions of the film or the truly funny bits that shine through (this reviewer's favorite bit is when two characters innocently ask for a place to mate -- an archaeologist points to a tent and they promptly have sex outside of it in front of a crowd).
It's no classic but it shows signs of genuine humor and imagination that lift it over the glut of genre films on the market.