Review: The 25th Reich / Cert: 15 / Director: Stephen Amis / Screenplay: Stephen Amis, Serge De Nardo, David Richardson / Starring: Dan Balcaban, Serge De Nardo, Jim Knobeloch, Angelo Salamanca, Jak Wyld, Lisa-Skye Goodes, Chris Goodes / Release Date: July 16th
There are times when you cut a movie a lot of slack. In this reviewers case, a low-budget attempt at a pulp war story with time travelling GIs battling Nazi flying saucers is one of those occasions that I have more slack to give than is proper. Throw in the financial backers pulling the plug and the filmmakers using their own money to keep their labour of love going and you’ve got something I’m going to find it hard to be mean about. Which makes The 25th Reich (2012) such a surprising disappointment.
From the pre-title scene of war comic caricatured GIs unashamedly hamming it up to the rather brilliantly stylised credit animations, I really was ready to get carried away with this film. Unfortunately, the first half of the film consists of nothing but our five soldier chums wandering through the (rather lovely) Australian outback in search of two escaped pumas (or ‘poomas’, as they amusingly refer to them) with a big radio. I believe that we are supposed to experience some form of tension during this extended National Geographic travelogue but as it’s so hard to imagine tooled-up US soldiers who have been trained to fight determined Japanese in the confined theatres of the Pacific being particularly threatened by a couple of unarmed animals, what we experience turns out to be tedium and a prolonged chance to observe the shortcomings of the budget.
Things sort of pick up just past the halfway point as the time travelling starts and we finally find a flying saucer but only ‘sort of’; I think it may have just been relief that the film was finally delivering on the advertised premise. Nobody can really hold the low quality nature of the saucer against the film at this stage but it is terribly unexciting, nevertheless. When the GIs find themselves in a distant future dominated by Nazi robot spiders, a smile can at least be raised by the sheer micro-budget audacity of it all, but even that is over-shadowed by a pointless scene of Nazi-spider-robot anal rape (which is not a sentence you type very often). If this is an attempt at some kind of Deliverance-style horror then it fails as it just comes across as schoolboy’s failed attempt at shock. It might help if it served a plot point but it doesn’t. The 25th Reich then abruptly ends with an amusingly gung-ho speech from the survivors leader about how they’ll carry on the fight and a ‘to be continued’ trailer set in space. Wishful thinking, I suspect. What’s odd is that the small amount of coverage this film has so far had has been quite favourable with reviewers embracing the whole pulpy silliness of the premise. I tried to join the party but I failed. It would seem I simply don’t have enough slack to give.