Apocalypse Rising is such a banal, generic title. It’s a word combination that filters straight to the back of your mind. It sounds so tedious and lackluster that you would wonder why anyone made it and if anyone would be dumb enough to watch it. I was dumb enough to watch it. You might want to be dumb enough to watch it, too.
Director: Richard Lowry
Release: August 27, 2018 (VOD)
The alien planet of Rathe (think Earth but dustier) is overrun with a zombie scourge. After decapitating her father, young Mia (Hunter Parker) escapes with her brother and the remaining survivors on a spaceship to a faraway planet called Earth, so they may repopulate their species. The spaceship itself looks suspiciously like a giant dick with four testicles hurtling through space, and this movie is exactly the kind of movie where that’s not an accident. Upon landing, one guy announces “It’s time to procreate” before sticking out his tongue and waving a pair of devil horns.
Then, flashback to Joseph and Mary wandering the desert searching for shelter. Mary enters labor when she’s grabbed by a hoard of zombies, and by the time Joseph finds her, she’s given birth to the savior, except he’s actually a demon baby with a zombie army under his control. But maybe this isn’t a flashback, because the regular Jesus shows up later, and he’s a pretty chill guy. Apparently, there’s an Anti-Christ pope, but he’s a background character. Maybe his birth is meant to mirror the real Jesus’, and that’s what we’re seeing, but it’s never made explicit. The story’s a bit muddy, believe it or not.
But it’s this bizarre high-wire act that makes Apocalypse Rising so interesting to watch. The crew lands in Jerusalem. Mia speaks to the actual Jesus as he hangs crucified. She’s healed by him. The villain is a C.S. Lewis-style obvious stand-in for Muslims. It’s filled with these religious overtones, and yet characters will start fucking during scenes of exposition complete with cartoon zipper sound effects. You’ll have a shot where two people argue science and reality, and in the background Magnum and his partner are slamming and jamming, their moans bubbling over the dialog. A bloody nun has sex next to a corpse. A woman rides a five-foot zombie dick. Blood showers the screen. All of this and much more is wrapped around themes of the eternal love of Jesus and the sacrifice he made for all of us. It’s weird and wacky, trashy and holy all at once–and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I don’t need to tell you that the script is awful. I don’t need to tell you that there are some garbage special effects, that the actors stand and say their lines and do little more, or that the filming quality is leaps below what you’ll find on cable these days. With all that gloss stripped away, however, the movie retains a certain charm. Apocalypse Rising might be absurd nonsense that wavers somewhere between a Biblical epic and a Troma production, but that’s miles better the being as dull and lifeless as its title suggests.