As I always like to say, I’ve probably forgotten an awful lot more science fiction films than the average person has seen. Largely because I’m willing to put in and watch almost anything sci-fi or sci-fi-lite because I so admire the genre. As a matter of fact, I tend to be far more forgiving of low-budget sci-fi fare than the next online critic or blogger. I like to think that’s because I do try very hard to find something noble trapped inside every small or big picture I see, but, in the end, I suppose it’s just a matter of definition: I think almost any film can be science fiction so long as it tinkers with a few key elements in its main story.
That said, yes, APOCALYPSE KISS is definitely sci-fi-lite, and it’s even quite good despite some of the usual low-budget, no-budget trappings.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Government security agent Jerry Hipple (played by Tom Detrik) has been trying to track down a depraved lunatic the media has christened the ‘Red Harvest Killer,’ but the sociopath always seems one step ahead. But when two bloodthirsty women (Carmela Hayslett and Tammy Jean) with an appetite for murder show up in town and begin piggybacking onto Red Harvest fame, the real killer – an obsessive compulsive freak named Adrian (D.C. Douglas) decides lurking in the shadows no longer interests him. Before it’s all over, he’ll have his fifteen minutes a fame even if it kills him!
I won’t belabor my appreciation for APOCALYPSE KISS. I tend to enjoy smaller features – one that pop in my mailbox from a distributor or marketing representative – so long as they’re well-made and present something worth watching. While that may seem like chump change to most, I tend to think it’s a difficult bill to fill, especially with every monkey behind a camera thinking he (or she) is the next Francis Ford Coppola. Here’s a tip to aspiring filmmakers: you aren’t, you probably never will be, nor should that be your aspiration. Why not? Because there already is one Francis Ford Coppola. Do something unique to get yourself and your production noticed, and I’ll give you the respect you’re due.
In that stead, APOCALYPSE KISS is a nice li’l treat. The performances by all players are spot-on – this is acting of the hammy, cheesy, yet hard-boiled variety consistency, and, so far as this guy cares, it works just fine throughout these 101 minutes. Also, if there were an awards category for the “Best Psychopath Derived From Previous Major Motion Picture Performances,” then I’d happily nominated D.C. Douglas to walk away with this year’s statue hands down. He chews scenery with terrific aplomb, dishing out his squeaky-clean sneer to effective measure.
If anything, KISS may’ve missed one great opportunity, and I offer it here as a polite observation should writer/director Christian Jude Grillo find way here: were it I, I would’ve tied up that last-minute apocalypse reveal more closely into Hipple’s desire to catch the bad-guy – make it almost an existential race-against-time – a bit earlier into the story. That way, the private-eye-style narration might’ve had a greater sense of purpose and/or sense of urgency. Otherwise, it kinda/sorta feels like reliance on one all-too-predictable post-production voiceover instead of being almost prophetic on the part of the good guy. Just a nickel’s worth of free advice.
B-movie fans rejoice! You’ve got one more alternative the next time you hit the video store.
APOCALYPSE KISS (2014) is produced by Potent Media, Dapper Cat Pictures, Martini Pictures, and Mass Graves Pictures. DVD distribution is being handled by Midnight Releasing. As for the technical specifications, this low-budget (IMDB.com reports $1.2M) serves up some quality sights and sounds, though some of the cinematography was shot far too tightly for my tastes. But – if it’s special features you want – then you’re in store for some quality extras: there are a couple of behind-the-scenes type making of bits along with some full cuts of commercials appearing within the film. It’s a solid package, nothing to sneeze at.
RECOMMENDED. Is it perfect? No, it ain’t. Is it entertaining? Well, that depends upon your interpretation of storytelling. For all its blemishes, APOCALYPSE KISS kept my interest, though I’ve no problem mentioning that there was easily 10 to 15 minutes in here that could’ve been trimmed and would’ve tightened up the narrative. In fact, APOCALYPSE KISS shamelessly borrows only the best elements of sci-fi and modern noir tales, and it puts these ingredients to great work in this kinda/sorta whodunit packaged around its ‘end of the world’ sensibilities. A few more bucks could’ve raised its stature, but as an indie feature I’ve seen far worse.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Midnight Releasing provided me with a DVD copy of APOCALYPSE KISS by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.