Zombies have always been a bit of a boon to low-budget horror movies; they’re a cheap and simple way to scare the wits out of an audience without the need for complicated special effects or too much exposition. The problem is that they’re now so ubiquitous that a movie has to be rather clever and original to stand out from the mouldering horde of zombie features out there.
Its fortunate then, that Napoleonic monster movie Fallen Soldiers happens to be rather smart. The setting is rather interesting; it’s the 19th century and Britain is at war with the French. Anyone who’s seen an episode of Sharpe knows the score here; the French are the evil conniving baddies and the British are the plucky upstarts who are very good at over-the-top violence. In Fallen Soldiers, Napoleon’s forces have a sinister secret weapon, and it’s of the glassy-eyed shambling sort.
This is a costume and practical effects-heavy feature, and very much old school. There are a lot of low budget horror movies on the market and Fallen Soldiers has played it very smart with period props and careful use of its monsters. All the locations are fields, woodlands, camp fires and small enclosed spaces, giving a distinctive look to the piece that suits its setting.
Every penny can be seen on the screen, and the action scenes are tightly directed. Shortcuts have been avoided; instead a lot of work has gone into making each scene look strong, and though this is also a cost saving measure, it really does make the feature look good and gives the entire project a traditional horror movie vibe.
Of course, all the careful shots and choreography in the world would be for nothing if the acting was poor. Luckily, the main leads carry off the dialogue-heavy plot very well. The feature is framed as one person telling a story to a captive audience and, despite some over the top French accents, the main leads put in a strong performance.
Fallen Soldiers is a great low budget horror movie, with some strong talent and clever ideas. Nicely done, and we’d love to see what director Bill Thomas could do if he was actually given a budget.
Special Features: TBC
FALLEN SOLDIERS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: BILL THOMAS / SCREENPLAY: BILL THOMAS, IAN THOMAS / STARRING: ROLAND BEARNE, ALEX BEVAN, EVE PEARSON / RELEASE DATE: JULY 27TH