Everyone’s had those daydreams. You know the ones I mean. They might start out with just a couple of folks chatting about their favorite “bad movies,” those B-grade flicks that are so bad they’re good. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes might come to mind, for example. Or almost any Troma movie. Inevitably, someone among the daydreamers will get the idea to create one of these films themselves, and that’s where the daydreams start to go off the rails.
“If they can make that movie, I can make a movie,” will be the rationale that enables the daydreamer to move forward. Unfortunately, it’s not enough. The B movies that are “so bad they’re good” are films that know what they are and make up for any lack of quality with their winking nods to the viewer that, no matter what, they made the film for the same reason you’re watching it. They want you to have a good time. They didn’t create the movie just because they thought they could make a movie.
Apocalypse Rising (2018, Rathe Productions) is one of those B-movie films that seems to have come out of someone’s daydream about making their own movie. A group of humanoid aliens from doomed planet Rathe set out for Earth to procreate and to save us from ourselves. That’s a B-movie setup, for sure, and Apocalypse Rising is definitely a B-grade movie, but it’s not among those of the “so bad it’s good” stripe. There are no winking nods to the audience that let you know the filmmakers know they’re making a bad film. There’s far too much exposition dialogue. Characters are capable of leaping to conclusions that make no sense based on what’s transpired thus far. All of these together make this movie painful to watch.
The biggest problem with Apocalypse Rising can be summed up by its genre listing on IMDB: comedy, fantasy, horror, sci-fi. The filmmakers tried to throw everything into this production. It’s evident from the costuming of the aliens (fantasy) to the phallic spaceship and interplanetary seeding storyline (sci-fi) to the bad puns and eye-roll-inducing “homage” characters (India Jones). There isn’t much in the way of “horror” in this film, even though it appears in the list of genres. The closest the movie gets is some blood sprays and gory deaths. Although they do succeed somewhat in the sci-fi style special effects at the beginning of the film, the rest of the genre mix falls flat.
What Apocalypse Rising boils down to is a great deal of bad dialogue, an odd mish-mash of a score, almost no internal logic, a few gags that do not produce laughs, and minimal action aside from the opening and closing scenes. Even the most common saving grace of B-grade cinema (sex and nudity) is lacking. There are some sexual encounters, but always without nudity and always played for comedy, which is not enough to justify the apparent TV-MA rating displayed on IMDB.
Regarding its premise and special effects, Apocalypse Rising had some potential. Unfortunately, that potential suffers from a lack of direction and understanding by the filmmakers of what type of film they set out to make.