Zone Troopers (1985)

The remains of a squad of American GIs and an attached journalist are stuck ten miles behind enemy lines in Italy in the middle of World War II, only to discover a camp full of SS have discovered a spaceship and captured an alien. The soldiers now have to rescue themselves and the alien, blow up the ship, and shoot a crap ton of Nazis, but they’re running low on ammo and grenades. Thank goodness they’re led by the legendary Iron Sarge, a man who should have died a dozen times but always comes back to kick more Nazi ass.

Yep, it’s a Sci-Fi World War II movie done in the spirit of serials, pulps, and old comic books like Our Army at War or The Haunted Tank.  Tim Thomerson stars as the Iron Sarge, a perfect choice for the deadpan, two-fisted role with a steel jaw. Tin Van Patten and Art LaFleur are his loyal and tough soldiers: Van Patten as Joey with his comic books and LaFleur as Mittens with his machine gun, Velma. Hell, Mittens even gets to punch Hitler in one scene. Biff Manard is the journalist Dolan, who has habits for fast talking and getting himself into trouble. And then there is the alien, which eats cigarettes and uses strange devices to keep everyone safe and destroy the enemy.

Let’s be up front about something: this is a tongue-in-cheek movie. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and it’s remarkably clean and not complex. There is little blood. There is little reaction from the enemy as film editing tricks are used to kill them all. It’s simplistic and campy, and it knows it. Hell, Mittens scribbles “Kilroy was here” on the side of an alien spaceship, and the movie advertises buying War Bonds in the theater lobby at the end of the credits. Do not go into this thinking you’re going to be watching the likes of 2001 or Platoon. It ain’t that deep.  Instead, expect something more along the lines of a weirder Sgt. Rock comic.

So, how is it? Well, it’s a bit uneven, and admittedly it’s so ridiculous and lighthearted at times that it struggles in tackling the deaths of major characters. But it’s all about the silly fun, so don’t expect too much. I’d say check it out if you sometimes want a fluff picture to go with your popcorn. With that in mind, I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

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