Film Review: The Supernaturals (1986)

SYNOPSIS:

Nichelle Nichols is an army sergeant who leads her platoon into the woods of the Deep South on a training exercise. Unfortunately, it is the site where a bunch of Yankee soldiers murdered a town of confederates. The corpses of the dead soldiers rise up to wreak revenge.

REVIEW:

Written by Joel Soisson, Michael S. Murphey
Directed by Armand Mastroianni
Starring: Maxwell Caulfield, Nichelle Nichols, Talia Balsam

I have no idea why this movie was called “The Supernaturals”. There is no indication of anything supernatural occurring. There is, however, no shortage of horrible dialogue, bad acting, aviator sunglasses, military stereotypes that tie all those together, chirping crickets, and Star Trek alumni (Nichelle Nichols from the original series and Levar Burton from The Next Generation series are both in the film). This is a film about Confederate zombies, I suppose, but it has a distinct Predator aftertaste.

The premise of a military training exercise being performed on Civil War ground that doesn’t seem to want to forget what happened all those years ago is an interesting enough basis for story, but the problem, as always, is the implementation. I watched a whole helluva lot of television back in the 80s and this movie just feels like a really bad made for television flick. The soundtrack reminded me of the A-Team; I expected to see the triumphant blacklisted specialists at any moment crash through the forest and rescue our soldiers, and thus me from having to watch it. That didn’t happen.

Instead, Confederate zombie soldiers stage an attack on our soldiers, who, as it turns out, just so happen to be named after the same division that forced these now dead Rebels to walk across a minefield 200 years ago. They were surprisingly good shots for being dead all that time. Must be like riding a bicycle.

There is a story being told in this movie; it’s just not that interesting. One of the soldiers is somehow related to the boy in the beginning of the film who was forced to march across the minefield. The mysterious woman who has been watching the soldiers is in fact a ghost and was the mother of that young boy. It’s very convoluted and, as I mentioned, not entirely interesting.

There were a couple of aspects of the film I enjoyed. Some of the lighting effects were cool because of the nostalgic appeal they had; rich, blue hues breathing life into the fog that envelops the forest they’re in. This effect in particular reminded me of the stuff Sam Raimi did in The Evil Dead five years earlier. And, believe it or not, Nichelle Nichols wasn’t absolutely terrible as the Sergeant of the soldiers in training; in fact the role suited her well, I thought, and that was a pleasant surprise.

Inexplicably, the ending credits showcase a song that is way better suited for a James Bond movie than a movie about Confederate zombies.

Looking at the fact that this movie was made in 1986 initially made me want to give it a break. But then I realized that “Aliens” and “Platoon” were also made in 1986. Granted, those two movies had enormous budgets, but we all know that “big budget” doesn’t necessarily translate into “kick ass movie” (10,000 B.C., anyone?), so what gives here? The Supernaturals just wasn’t a good movie is all. It was a tired concept, with a tired script and a lackluster implementation. Bitchin’ blue fog couldn’t save it. Not even Jordy from The Next Generation could save it, and that dude was in Roots.

The Supernaturals (1986)

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