If you don’t know who Necrostorm is, you’re in the same boat I was in about about a month ago. If you end up liking what you see here, you’ll probably end up where I am today, owning about half their library and eagerly searching for spare change to grab their remaining shit.
TAETER CITY: Take a Tour in the City of Cannibal Dictatorship
Italy, 2012, Giulio De Santi
Fascist science fiction dystopias aren’t new. Neither is the concept of pre-crime. It’s hard to call the idea of cannibalism new or exciting, either. But crudely grafting all three together isn’t something I’ve seen before and I respect that creativity. The residents of Taeter City live under the watchful eye of a Big Brother-like organization called The Authority. This all powerful group protects its followers with not only a troupe of bad ass cops equipped with sci-fi weapons and sweet motorcycles, but the ZEED System. This is a crime stopping system centered around blasting out waves of energy that alter the brain patterns of anyone who shows signs of homicidal tendencies, turning their desire to butcher others inward. When the perps off themselves – in ways as gory as you’d expect given Necrostorm’s track record – the bikers show up to collect the bodies and deliver them to factories where they’re turned into food for the hungry populace. Things go wrong when one criminal’s exposure to the ZEED System turns him into a mutant capable of using its power against it.
That is a bitchin’ idea, for real. I can safely say I’ve never seen a splatter movie with that lofty a concept, and, while that sounds good, it presents a problem. Taeter City isn’t necessarily stupid like, say, The Taint. Both are focused on splatter and gore, both are over the top and cheesy for the sake of it, and both were completed on fairly low budgets. The difference is, with something like The Taint or Violent Shit or Tokyo Gore Police, the story accommodates its stupid effects. They’re either low brow or low effort and it’s easy to forgive them because of their insane visuals and gallons of blood. Taeter City‘s concept is legitimately too interesting to me to let it go. It’s 1984 meets Minority Report meets Soylent Green and that’s really, really cool. So by the time the credits roll I’m left feeling a little split. I love the action, the ambition, and the concept but I can’t shake the feeling that, if done with more effort and less focus on the splat-tastic insanity, this concept could be so much more.
I feel like my opinion on all this would’ve been different if I had seen Taeter City before its predecessor, Adam Chaplin. That movie’s a much simpler, more straightforward story but it’s handled very seriously despite its cartoonish levels of violence and ends up feeling something like a Riki-Oh meets Sin City comic book kind of deal, and it works really well. I feel like Taeter City focused more on creating a live action anime, which is easily one of the film’s strongest points. If you do enjoy the hyper violent imagery and boneheaded storytelling of late eighties to mid-nineties anime classics like MD Geist, Genocyber, and Apocalypse Zero then you won’t find a live action movie to fit your tastes better. In fact, animation is featured prominently in the movie itself, mostly in cut aways to an obnoxious character telling us how delicious Taeter Burger snacks are and telling us we should follow The Authority’s rules lest we end up lunch ourselves. These little snippets of animation and world building are actually really cool. They’re weirdly fluid and well done and they don’t shy away from the red stuff. It’s a cool way to build the world even if it does cut into the pacing a bit.
But, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, the story isn’t really what matters here. You buy this movie because you want to see over the top special effects and people getting butchered. You get that. In spades, even. Necrostorm’s claim to fame is their ability to not only craft really cool practical effects but enhance them with CGI for a unique, cartoony look that I just love. Taeter City is no different, but like every other aspect of the movie, I’m a little torn here. The effects are great and the visuals are strong, I love the aesthetic they’re going for and I personally think they fucking killed it, but there are a handful gags they reused verbatim from Adam Chaplin and that really pulled me out of the experience. Maybe it was meant to be a call back, maybe they just needed one more gore shot and ran out of money or ideas, but it’s a weird thing to see. Shots involving vehicles and futuristic gadgets are hard to stomach at times, too. There’s a scene where the lead cop – whose name I’ve already forgotten so let’s just call her Booberella – scans a piece of meat from a victim to find the mutant they’re hunting. She does this by stabbing it with a pocket knife that has a perfectly square and awkward looking circuit board hot glued to the top.
That isn’t the only time, either. Cars are started with button presses rather than keys, but these buttons are just the radio controls and surge protector switches. There are bullets that bore into a suspect’s nose and inject them with a sedative, but they look like some kind of weird handle from a power tool with a screw in the tip. There’s a scene where the bikers actually, y’know, ride their bikes which is surprisingly rare, and not only are the futuristic bikes represented by actual toys – one of which has its little side mirror bent out of place – but the shots of the drivers have them holding onto handles that are obviously the same props they used for their guns’ handles. It’s a bit of a mess, but it’s hard to say it’s not endearing. It’s just a little jarring when you see Booberella slice a guy’s face into baloney with her magic laser chain weapon one minute then see someone with a painted NERF gun the next. I’ll give them points for imagination, though, I definitely couldn’t have come up with these alternative uses.
So, should you watch Taeter City? I know it seems like I’m picking on the movie, but yes, you should check it out. In fact, watch it before you look further into Necrostorm and De Santi’s library. Adam Chaplin may have been the company’s first feature but it set the bar REALLY high and after watching Hotel Inferno and reading reviews of Infidus and The Mildew From Planet Xonader, I feel like Taeter City might end up being their worst. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, though, and splatter fans should definitely check it out.
Taeter City was released in the US, but unfortunately that DVD is lacking in extras. I recommend buying from Necrostorm directly. There you can purchase a special edition that not only comes with a lot of cool on disk features including a soundtrack and behind the scenes footage but physical items like mini-posters and replicas of the bikers’ ID cards. Note that both the on demand and regular release of the standard edition have no extra features, they’re exclusive to the special edition.