DVD/Blu-Ray Review: Outpost – Black Sun

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MSRP $20.99
RATED Not Rated
STUDIO XLrator Media
RUNNING TIME 101 Minutes
• The Making of Outpost: Black Sun
• Trailer

The Pitch

Nazi zombies stab the hell out of Eastern Europe because of science!

The Humans

Richard Coyle, Catherine Steadman, Johnny Meres

The Nutshell

The year is 1945, the closing stages of WWII, and a German scientist is working on a frightening new technology that has the power to create an immortal Nazi army. Flash forward to present day, and a NATO task force is deployed to Eastern Europe, where a sinister enemy is mercilessly killing everything in its path. But this is no ordinary foe… it is a super-human army of zombie Nazi Stormtroopers. Defying overwhelming odds, a small band of soldiers venture deep behind enemy lines to uncover the source of this evil power and prevent the rise of the Fourth Reich.

The Lowdown

Did anybody actually see Outpost when it came out? I personally picked up a used copy at a Family Video in 2009 and it sat unwatched on my “rainy day” pile for years after that. I never expected much from it, as is my custom with impulse purchases, but I was surprised by how awful it wasn’t.

Outpost had a unique approach (Shock Waves and Zombie Lake are, to my knowledge, the only previous attempts at Nazi zombies prior to Outpost so the bar was admittedly pretty low) and the pure luck of catching Ray Stevenson right after Rome ended but right before the major studios started calling and driving up his asking price. The zombies themselves were really nothing like anything that came before or after; having more in common with ghosts than George Romero’s gut-munching revenants; they looked creepy in an understated way and the psuedo-science explanation given for their creation was a pretty reasonable sounding load of bullshit for the audience to digest without complaint.

I was a bit skeptical of a sequel because Outpost was such an obvious one-shot that the idea of any further adventures in this universe were going to be problematic. Everything that follows this paragraph will contain spoilers or allusions to spoilers of the first movie so if you don’t want that in your life then go find a copy of Outpost and meet me below the next picture when you’re done.

Seriously, your local resale shop will probably just give it to you if you promise to take at least 10 copies with you.

Seriously, your local resale shop will probably just give it to you if you promise to take at least 10 copies with you.

You good? So yeah, everybody died. Where exactly do you go from there? Are we just going to have a series like Hatchet where more idiots wander into the bunker and end up dead? Fortunately, the answer to that question is “no.” Outpost: The Squeakquel retains the first film’s writer/director team who, rather than comfortably stagnating, made Outpost: Back in the Habit a bigger, meaner, and more exciting movie in every way possible.

Outpost: The Legend of Curly’s Gold avoids repetition by making our protagonist, Lena, the daughter of Nazi hunters. She’s not really an innocent but she’s far from the grizzled mercenaries the first movie was populated with. In tracking down an old war criminal she stumbles onto a map showing the location of a bunker where a high-ranking Nazi named Klausener apparently resides. So she hops on the first plane to Grayishbleakistan so she can get Klausener and complete her mint condition “War Criminals of World War II” collection.

On her way to the bunker Lena runs into Wallace (Richard Coyle), a specialist in electromagnetics that managed to predict a 1940s-era machine that would belch out un-killable ghost Nazis would one day be a plausible threat. Wallace shows Lena that the magnetic field which these things use to exist is rapidly expanding and then shows her video evidence that the zombies, led by Commandant Götz from the first movie, are killing any and every thing they can get their rotten genocidal fingers on. Lena, in spite of this, remains resolved in her quest to catch Klausener and follows Wallace into the war zone to save the world from the Fourth Reich/catch a ridiculously old war criminal for reasons that only seem exponentially more selfish ever time Lena brings it up.

Of course the war zone is filled to the brim with stabby Aryan death and Wallace and Lena doesn’t make it very far in before they have to be rescued by a special forces team who waste their EMP device (which they only have one of for some stupid arbitrary reason) making the zombies killable in a six-mile radius, which is inconveniently two miles shy of their target. The soldiers drag Wallace along because he has vague knowledge of how the machine might work and they assume he’ll be able to cobble some bullshit together to stop it.

Lena shows her confidence in this plan.

A lot has changed since Outpost was released back in 2007. Nazisploitation had gone out of style, but now it’s back in full force and it’s difficult not to see a tinge of Dead Snow, Iron Skies, or even War of the Dead (though that could just be similarities to Dog Soldiers) mixed into Outpost: Port of Call: New Orleans. For one thing the zombies actually look like zombies now. Outpost’s zombies were pale and ghostly in appearance, completely silent, and emotionless; they were more evocative of the ghost pirates in The Fog or the satanic derelicts of Prince of Darkness. By contrast, the zombies in Outpost: A Tale of Two Kitties are what the ones from Dead Snow might have looked like if they’d had a bigger budget. The zombies have oily grey-green skin with black spidery veins, milked over eyes, yellow teeth, and black gums. Rather than being emotionless and cold they growl like animals, looking and acting malevolent and joyfully evil; they also seem to have forgotten how to operate firearms as stabbing seems to be their only venue for murder now. Better critics than I can argue over which look works better but I really can’t pick one side over the other. The new look is certainly a major departure but it definitely works and is often very unsettling.

The scope of Outpost: Pig in the City is much wider this time as well. Instead of showing the zombies as a contained threat to a handful of trained soldiers in a small space, they’re an ever-expanding threat to the world at large. This makes Lena’s side story work by making her task to find Klausener seem more about the fate of the world and less about petty revenge.

Another aspect which has grown since part one is the science fiction angle. We get a lot more information on the machine that creates the zombies and what it’s truly capable of. Admittedly as the movie moves closer to its final act, which recalls the manic terror of Event Horizon’s climax, it’s in constant danger of collapsing under the strain of its own ludicrousness but manages to sneak by on charisma.

100% historically and scientifically accurate.

100% historically and scientifically accurate.

If there is a major flaw in Outpost: Armed and Fabulous it’s that the first hour drags its feet. It takes far too long for Lena and Wallace to meet up with the soldiers and too long for the group to reach the bunker after that. If this dullness was important to the story or was effectively used to build tension I’d let it go but it’s mostly just a bunch of people whispering nonsense at each other dramatically like it’s an episode of Revenge or something. I was tempted to write the entire movie off as a failure and then it just suddenly came together and all was well.

Outpost: Black Sun could be a better movie but it builds on its predecessor in just about every way. It’s genuinely creepy and action-oriented in a way that very few horror movies (that aren’t called Aliens) have been able to pull off without losing their edge. If you liked Outpost you’ll love this one and if you didn’t like it you’ll probably still enjoy Outpost 2.

The Package

There aren’t many special features here. There’s a short “Making of” documentary and a trailer. The Blu-Ray has English subtitles but the DVD only has closed-captioning.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars

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