This movie exists like a weird hybrid of the horror in the Outpost series and occasionally the camp of the film Zone Troopers. More so the Outpost series, but who am I to complain about a Nazisploitation horror movie?
It’s 1944. D-Day has arrived, and the Allied forces are storming the beaches of Normandy. Unfortunately, the Nazis are dug in like an Alabama tick, so the Airborne are being flown ahead to destroy Nazi communications and whittle away at their ability to pinpoint artillery on our boys down on the beaches. In short, destroy the comms tower, and we’ve got a chance to win the war. So, with a bunch of fresh-faced troops newely recruited and trained along with a couple of crusty vets, the Airborne are sent in over Nazi-infested France to help the fight. That’s when everything goes to Hell.
This is not an unrealistic start to a World War II horror movie. The Airborne did get sent in, and they did get shot to shit while forces invading the beaches also got shot to shit, until the forces that made it managed to band together and unseat the Axis from their perch. There are a lot of great films as well as the Band of Brothers series that covers this. Also, the firearms used by the Germans are a combination of weapons such as the MP-40 and StG 44, while the Americans are using Thompsons, Springfields, and Garands just as they would. I’ll also get into the house of horrors that the paratroopers find, but the one historical thing that bugs me is that the Airborne are shown to be integrated in the film, and that wasn’t true at the time.
Why does this bother me? Not because I think lead actor Jovan Adepo does a bad job (he doesn’t, he’s fantastic). Rather, it’s because I just don’t want folks thinking that this was the case, because black soldiers at Fort Benning at the time received heavily racist treatment but did in fact form a segregated paratrooper battalion, the 555, which did see action during the Battle of the Bulge. Their sacrifices are an underappreciated piece of the war, and you’re better off for knowing they existed and faced both the horrors of war in Europe and the horrors of racism back home!
Ok, it’s a movie with undead super soldiers. My history nerd hat is coming off now. Hey, Tarantino killed Hitler. It’s a brave new world.
Anyway, a handful of paratroopers do make it alive to the location of the Nazi radio tower, only they discover it’s in a church in a French town, and the Nazis are doing freakish experiments on the locals. Why? So they can make undying super soldiers. Yes, they’re sort of like Nazi zombies, in that they’re undead and openly wounded, but these guys are raving, super strong maniacs. One particularly gruesome undead super soldier has very little of his arm left yet uses the sharpened bone as a weapon in a great chase sequence. I don’t know who that actor is, but he was fantastic!
The Americans discover this with the help of a local French villager named Chloe, played by Mathilde Oliver, and after learning just how nasty all of this murder, experimentation, and undeath really is, the remaining few decide to blow the whole facility off the face of the planet. It’s a great plan, until they discover that an SS officer whose face they half shot off is now an undead ubermensch in the basement, and he looks really nasty.
I had a great time with this movie. Yes, it’s gory, and yes, it plays on exactly the kinds of fears you think you’ll see when someone tells you it’s a movie about Nazi undead experiments. But it’s got a lot of action, and there is a campy vibe that starts from the newsreel-esque opening credits and stays throughout. You’ll see it in how characters talk but also just how the movie feels, despite also showcasing some nasty-looking gore. There are many Nazi horror movies, but this one comes in pretty high for me, particularly against dregs like Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz…which featured neither Spetsnaz nor much rising now that I think about it.