DVD Review: War of the Dead / Cert: 15 / Director: Marko Makilaakso / Screenplay: Marko Makilaakso / Starring: Andrew Tiernan, Mikko Leppilampi, Samuel Vauramo / Release Date: May 28th
The idea of using Nazi zombies as a central plot point is nothing new and the next offering in this sub-genre is War of the Dead which sits somewhere between Dog Soldiers, Dead Snow and Assault on Precinct 13.
When a combined force of Allied and Finnish soldiers attempt to infiltrate a German bunker, they realise that they have under-estimated the resistance that they will face. Losing a large number of their task force leaves the surviving members with the daunting duty of completing the mission by themselves, but as their numbers continue to dwindle they find that their enemy is not prepared to just lie down and die. It turns out that the bunker they are tasked with destroying was a home for SS experiments on captured Russian soldiers to try and create “Anti-Death”. Ergo, zombies. The enemies that our protagonists have already dispatched come back stronger and more determined to stop them than ever.
What is interesting here is that because the film is set in World War II, there is no existing knowledge of zombie lore and so the soldiers can’t believe what they are up against and struggle to work out how to kill the foes that they encounter. There are no gags or in-jokes to be had here, this is serious straight up horror, mixing in some great little set-pieces that are impressive considering the reported budget of €1million, making this the most expensive film ever made in Lithuania.
However, because of the lack of budget, the script seems bare, with very little in the way of character development and the zombies themselves are a blur, rushing around and jumping through windows like circus trapeze artists. In some action scenes it is difficult to know exactly what is going on. Even the main mission of infiltrating the bunker seems forgotten at times with some set-pieces side-tracking the group and chains of command shifting from one moment to the next. It says a lot when you pat yourself on the back for recognising the guy out of The Bill (Mark Wingett, if you’re interested), because most of the rest of the cast are forgettable.
But, because the director has decided to keep this strictly serious with no sense of parody – which would have been so easy to rely on – and the action does go against the budget, this tale of Nazi experimentation gone awry, with zombies to boot, is better than a lot of the straight to DVD horror dross out there.
Give it a whirl.
Special Features: Making Of, Trailer