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Those Nazi Zombies are at it again...
on 29 December 2012
Next up in my Nazi movie marathon was a film that I've been anticipating the release of on DVD for quite some time now, Outpost II: Black Sun, the sequel to 2008's Outpost.
For me, the title of this sequel revealed quite a lot. "Black Sun" is a direct reference to a mosaic found on the floor of Wewelsburg Castle, a 400 year old fortress in Germany which was used as the HQ of the SS by Heinrich Himmler and was the seat of much occult research for the mysterious Ahnenerbe-SS; an SS division who embarked on searches around the planet for items such as the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant in order to acquire ways to enhance Nazi dominance of the planet. So, 10/10 for reasearch so far!
Getting to the film itself, it is markedly different from its predecessor in a number of ways. Clearly, there has been a greater budget with the sequel (reportedly around £200,000) and this shows with significantly expanded set pieces and extended use of CGI effects. Additionally, the lighting and mood has changed from Outpost. Where the original was dark and claustrophobic, Outpost II is a more action-driven horror with less reliance on atmosphere and fear of the dark, opting for straight up violence instead.
The cast performed admirably with, for me, some real surprises turning up such as busy British actors Clive Russell, Julian Wadham (The English Patient) and a near unrecognisable David Gant (Braveheart, Ghandi). Daniel Caltagirone (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) is suitably stoic and square-jawed as the special forces unit commander, Ali Craig and Nick Nevern offer up some sarcasm and streetwise attitude in their respective roles and Gary McDonald (The Shepherd, Until Death) seems to command the viewer's attention any time he speaks or is on screen. However, this cadre of top soldiers lacked the depth of character that Ray Stevenson and his squad of mercenaries had in Outpost. One character in particular, came as a total shock and at first, I was left wondering what on earth the team behind Outpost had included them for. However, this addition to the roster was genuinely creepy and responsible for one of the more gory death scenes in the film.
Although I enjoyed watching Outpost II: Black Sun, looking at it objectively, it was not without its flaws. I felt the introduction to characters was cut short in order to get to the action sequences and to be honest, was left a little confused as to what the basis of the plotline was. Additionally, we never really see more than a handful of undead Nazis at a time and yet, we're to be convinced that these walking dead killers will be the end of the world when a handful of soldiers can more or less hold them at bay. Moreover, the sacrifice of the dark, creepy atmosphere of the first film with the Nazi menace lurking stealthily in the shadows has been replaced with marauding, grunting, Nazi zombies who seem to lack the guile of their predecessors. Also, I can't help but feel that the blood and gore was significantly toned down in this entry to the Outpost films in order to get a lower certification and thus bring in a wider audience. That however, may just be me being overly suspicious.
Outpost II: Black Sun succeeds where many sequels fail in that it is perfectly competent as a standalone title. However, as much as I enjoyed watching this straight-up action horror, I can't help but feel that Outpost is still the original and better of the two.