Monday, August 2, 2010

Outpost (2008) The Punisher Meets Some Evil Nazi Zombies

When you need a villain, you really can't go wrong with those evil Nazi bastards. There's a built-in hatred for those master race jerks that allows you to cheer when they're mowed down by the dozen. Make them zombies or ghosts or whatnot, and *bam*...instant supernatural villain. They're villains in the truest sense of the word. No cheering for them because it's "edgy" or "cool" (see World Championship Wrestling's 90's faction The New World Order). If you're cheering for the Nazi, then get off my lawn now.

Much in the same way Dead Snow brought scores of superhuman, very undead Nazi zombies to battle against innocent Norwegian vacationers, the 2008 British horror offering Outpost has a group somewhat more prepared for battle going up against undead Nazi super-soldiers. Throw in a slight touch of sci-fi, and you have an interesting premise.

Soldier of fortune DC (Ray Stevenson of Punisher: War Zone) and his band of merry men have been hired by secretive corporate fellow Hunt (Julian Windham) to open up and explore a bunker deep in some war-torn Eastern European forest. DC's got quite the international team of mercenaries, with guys from the USA to Belgium to Russia. The USA's representative, Prior is played by Richard Brake. You may remember him as my favorite part of Perkins' 14.

And imagine my surprise and delight when I find out that the Irish representative in this team, McKay, is played by none other than Michael Smiley, the rave-obsessed, mood-swinging bike messenger Tyres from my favorite Brit-com, Spaced.

I kept waiting for him to spout his trademark, "Oi-oi! You lucky people!" But alas, this was a more serious role.

The team enters the bunker and find some weirdness right off the bat. Radios don't work very well, and on top of possible snipers bearing down on them, they find someone somewhat alive. A strange, silent bald man lies among a pile of bodies in a mysterious room. No one knows how he could've arrived there, since the bunker was pretty much sealed and hadn't been touched in decades. Upon further investigation, they discover not only is the bunker very old, and not only was it used by the Nazis in World War II, but it was used for some of the more bizarre experiments.

In this bunker, the Nazis apparently tried creating the perfect soldier: one with tremendous capacity for physical strength and cruelty, as well as being virtually indestructible. Not only that, there's the whole reason that Hunt guy is there. Seems the Nazis were also experimenting with reality and time distortion, and there's a machine there his bosses want. The closer he gets to deciphering and understanding the machine, the worse it gets for him and the merc team. Shadowy figures appear on the perimeter. Members of the team go missing and then turn up, tortured and murdered.

Like evil undead super-ninjas, the Nazi super-soldiers get inside the bunker and then the kicker: the helpless, catatonic guy they found at the beginning. Not so helpless after all. While watching one of the films found in the bunker, it's discovered that Silent Bald Guy is really Ultra-Evil Nazi General Guy. He survived the experiment, plus a shot to the head, and is looking to reclaim his mantle as leader.

It comes down to The Punisher DC doing his best to mow down the advancing undead superhumans, but to no avail. Everybody goes, and they don't go pretty. When a recovery team arrives to assess the situation and maybe rescue who might be left (um, no one at this point), the silhouettes appear again at the treeline and we know everyone is pretty much screwed.

This was another movie that didn't wow me, but didn't totally disappoint. The notion of space and time being slightly warped intrigued me. The thought that there was possibly more going on there than what we actually saw. Exactly what could that machine do? I'd like to know more, and it looks as though I may get to, as a sequel is in the works for later this year. This film looked good and had some nice performances. While Richard Brake again played a loony, which he does very well, it was nice to see Michael Smiley show range since I mostly associate him with his wacky character on Spaced. So, mixed feelings on this one, mostly positive, though. I say show me more - there is more that can be done with this story, and it could be tightened up into a nice package.

Still, when all is said and done, The Punisher would have had a field day on those supernatural goose-steppers.

Until next time, fellow survivors, don't mess with the space-time continuum. It makes a mess.

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