Friday, November 29, 2013

Outpost III: Rise of the Spetsnaz (2013)

Oh, look, it's the third movie in what is now officially the premiere Nazi zombie movie franchise (by sheer virtue of actually being a franchise). Not that the Outpost movies aren't fun enough to watch, but I'll come to that a bit later.

First, let's get that "plot" thing out of the way. Despite the very obvious "to be continued" ending of Outpost 2, the movie at hand is not a sequel but a prequel, so if you want to learn the origin story of the bunker in film one, or maybe film two (the films didn't impress so much I actually remember much of what was going on in them beyond Nazi zombies and underground bunkers, which is probably for the best), this was made directly for you.

So it's World War II, and a small unit of Soviet Guards led by Dolokhov (Bryan Larkin doing one of the better, that is to say, least hilarious accents in the film) is harassing the Germans behind their frontlines somewhere in German occupied territory. They get pretty close to a secret German scientific base where the Nazis under the leadership of a certain Strasser (Michael McKell, with a fake German accents that manages to be at once inauthentic to an embarrassing degree as well as often difficult to penetrate) make the kind of crazy super soldier experiments that don't result in Hauptmann Hakenkreuz but in nearly uncontrollable rage zombies.

Unfortunately, the surroundings of the titular outpost are quite well patrolled and defended, so most of the Russians are soon dead, while Dolokhov, his friend Fyodor (Iván Kamarás who is Hungarian not Russian, but hey, it's closer than being Scottish, at least) and their colleague soon-to-be-dead-guy are captured to be used in some choice Nazi science. After a bit of Nazi zombie cage fighting, Strasser decides his captives are best used for zombification. They are, after all, much tougher than his own men, and might just survive the zombification process better than them. He doesn't explain why he thinks building Russian super soldiers is a good idea, but then he does rant and rave a lot without half of his sentences actually being understandable. Whatever could go wrong?

As is obvious, the largest part of this Outpost is pretty much exactly like the first two, with many a scene of armed men running and sneaking through a dark bunker and doing violence to other armed men, and an occasional Nazi zombie or three. While this sounds a bit boring on paper, in practice, O: RotS (you didn't expect me to write the stupid title out, did you?) is rather good low budget movie fun, at least when one can accept that this Nazi zombie movie contains more zombie-less bunker-based action than one would hope. Said action is realized by director Kieran Parker (acting as a producer and writer on the first two films) fast-paced, bloody, and competently choreographed, though, so I didn't find myself missing the zombies too desperately when they weren't there, particularly since the zombie make-up turned out to be the point where O: RotS''s low budget shows most. As in, the zombie make-up is really quite bad.

Visually, the film's a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, I appreciate that Parker doesn't go all out on horrible digital editing tricks, whoosh-edits and that sort of distracting nonsense, on the other hand, O: RotS is yet another contemporary movie whose colour scheme is so desaturated it can hardly be called a colour scheme. One might be tempted to say they might as well have shot the film in black and white, but then black and white films need filmmakers to think about the relation between light and shadow in their compositions where the desaturated style is more a way for the lazy or unimaginative not to have to think about colour uses and colour meanings at all.

Still, O: RotS is mostly entertaining pulp action fun with one or two cute ideas, a lot of violence, deeply unpleasant protagonists fighting even more unpleasant enemies (seriously, there's a scene of Strasser urinating on a corpse just for shock value and to prove that he's really evil, as if the whole Nazi zombie thing weren't a hint), some moments of grim b-movie humour, and a few fine cheesy lines of the sort that clearly didn't write themselves. Consequently, I find myself looking forward to a potential fourth film, perhaps even one with one (or even two!?) larger female roles again - as long as it's not going to be called Outpost: Cry of the Nazi Valkyries.

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