Modern British horror films are awful, aren't they. It comes to something when the best of a bad bunch comes from a man who can't write dialogue, but that is what the genre has come to in Blighty. The country that gave the world James Whale, Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Terence Fisher can now claim the embarrassingly bad conversations in films like The Descent and Dog Soldiers as the current cream of the crop.
Outpost is the film that bucks this trend. A horror movie which is proud of its genre and unashamedly playing to the kind of person who hears two words juxtaposed and thinks that that sounds like my kind of film. And what are those two magic words that create instant joy and acceptance in the hearts of the unwashed hordes of fright freaks? NAZI ZOMBIES, you heard me, NAZI ZOMBIES.
If, like me, you have loved nonsense like Ken Wiederhorn's Shock Waves, or Jean Rollin's Zombie Lake you will already know that Outpost is the film for you. To expand a little on the two words and to follow the modern trend that boils movies down to a tagline, Citizen Kane is of course old man remembers sledge, then Outpost is mercenaries take on Nazi Zombies. There is a little bit more to it than that but on that starkly unsophisticated level, this movie delivers.
An ensemble cast of unknowns in roles far flung and diverse, South African, Russian, American and Irish, work well off each other. Character makes each interesting enough that they don't seem like mere grist to the Nazi mill, and the use of the paraphernalia of Fascism grounds each as clearly out of their depth. This is a movie shot in very desaturated tones, so the few bursts of colour are saved for the reds of Nazi flags and insignia, and the iconography's impact is maximised.
The worst mistake you can make with this kind of movie is to sanitise it. By making it too easy to consume for a mass market the project can become straight to video drivel, but that is not allowed to happen here. The mercenaries are never made too likeable and the bursts of violence are nicely transgressive and happily unpleasant. By doing this, the film-makers show that they know their audience and they choose to mix genre nastiness with strong dramatic values through decent plausible dialogue and enough fun science to make the outlandish tale hang together.
Outpost proves tight in terms of running time, solid in the acting department, and best of all it has got its share of gruesome fun and creepy shadows. Some years ago, I wrote a piece about British Horror movies decrying the fact that we have never had a balls to the wall flick like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or some of the recent horrors from France. Now I must say that Outpost isn't quite that film but it shares many of the unrelenting features of the kind of movie I mean. Perhaps, just perhaps someone is now able to deliver that kind of movie on these shores and perhaps the team behind Outpost are just the people to do it.
Outpost is a terrific, uneasy and pacey horror movie. It's fit, lean and unashamedly about Nazi Zombies. If you are as fickle and shallow as me then you will know that those two words guarantee pay dirt - Nazi Zombies, I tell ya.
Housed in its own dust cover using the same poster art that is present on the DVD cover, Outpost gets a very nice treatment from Sony. The anamorphic transfer of the main feature is exceedingly sharp, supremely detailed and with wonderful black levels throughout. Colours are desaturated bar the few flashes of Nazi regalia, and edges are pleasingly natural. Quite lovely.
The audio comes in a strong stereo track and a more atmospheric 5.1 track. The surround effects and positional mixing in the 5.1 option is far from fussy and the principal use of the rears and side speakers is for the score and eerie sound effects with voices mixed at the front and center. This means that when the camera does a 180 degree turn, the mix doesn't flip too and switching between perspectives doesn't change the spatial mix either. Therefore the 5.1 mix is better than the stereo for the reasons of coverage and atmosphere as the subwoofer has plenty to do with the throbbing underground dynamics of the finale. The sound is clean and imperfection free, I felt it could be crisper and better detailed and wonder if a HD treatment could be worth waiting for.
The extras include a commentary with the first time director and one of the producers which is a constant dialogue between the two which covers some of the compromises they made shooting the film and the virgin experience for both of them. Its all very chatty and matey, with both men being genuinely pleased with their work and self-effacing but it is a little dry as they both realise. Still for a first effort, it's fine.
The deleted scenes included here are most interesting in the changes that could have been made to the opening and closing of the movie. The alternate ending may have screamed sequel but I am glad that they dropped it, and the longer versions of scenes and the opening clearly had to go for the reason of pacing. These seven deleted scenes can also be watched with the commentary from the director and producer.
The Behind The Scenes featurettes can be accessed in chunks or in one almost 40 minute sitting. The film is discussed from its beginnings as an idea of the producers and director through to bringing Rae Brunton on board as a writer, onto the casting and shooting. It's interesting to hear about the influences at play here such as John Carpenter's The Thing and the novel way the producers found finances through using a comic book version of the film.
The film's trailer is also included along with trailers for Hancock, Prom Night, Zombie Strippers and Starship Troopers 3.
A really good package of a fine movie. Celebrate, the day of great British horror movies has come again.