Film Review: Battlefield Death Tales (2012)

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SYNOPSIS:

3 interlocking stories from the dark days of World War 2. A soldier on a suicide mission. A troubled family with a monster in their bomb shelter. A supernatural investigator on her most dangerous assignment yet.

REVIEW:

Otherwise known as Nazi Zombie Death Tales, this anthology of three short films is a shining example of what can be done on a relatively small budget. The fact that the trio of films were all united with the same theme (World War two) is a definite wise choice for this one, as a completely random collection of films shoved under a single title often leaves people disliking one. For me, I thought that the first two of this anthology far outshone the last and should be used as inspiration for up-and-coming horror directors. It is films like this that prove that you don’t need big stars or big bucks to make it work.

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The first segment, Medal of Horror, was brilliantly shot and edited, matching Hollywood standard as far as I was concerned. Although the CGI was a little bit dodgy, I wouldn’t describe it as tacky and so this is a shortcoming that I find easy to overlook. The storyline is about a man who, despite his job actually being to write condolence letters for the war, is sent by his superior to go looking behind enemy lines for his daughter. Understandably nervous, the man sets off on this mission, only to encounter that people all around him are turning into zombie creatures whose only aim is to bite and kill others. The whole zombie theme is not exactly original, I know, and nor is the Nazi backdrop, but I still thought that this was a notable effort. There were good slow motion sections thrown into the action sequences which help to increase the drama and tension of these scenes. Plus, it is always nice to see a female antagonist making the men quiver, and her comeuppance at the end looked mighty brutal indeed (even if it was a little drawn out)! I found the ending especially poignant, which is something pretty hard to achieve in a film about zombies which is only 30 minutes long.

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Next comes the section entitled, Harriet’s War, introduced over an image of the Union Jack flag – which is extremely appropriate given the overly British ‘feel’ to the whole piece. This film reminds me of a Sherlock Holmes type where the audience follows Harriet, a forensic investigator who is looking into the murder of a young man and woman who has gone missing. There’s a splash of humour here which nicely compliments the more sinister aspects of the film. Don’t let the comedy fool you though, because this film sticks to its horror routes and contains some truly chilling moments. I also like the allusions to a film noir style, what with the extensive use of shadow and a strong female lead. The World War Two/Nazi theme remains strong throughout this one as well, as the body found had swastikas engraved into him. The special effects here are not fantastic but that’s not too much of a problem, as this film does not rely on pure blood and gore, but is much more sophisticated than that.

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Finally, in what I would easily describe as the weakest of the three films, is Devils of the Blitz. On the plus side, this was shot well, with decent lighting and sound effects (although the voice over and some of the conversations seemed too quiet and were overwhelmed by the background music). However, it is precisely the horror element of this film that let it down. I think if ever the term ‘less is more’ could be applied, it’s in regards to this film. The effects were truly abysmal to be honest and the killer creatures are just the most ridiculous things ever. What I find sad here is that I feel like they really did try to make it seem scary, but this was never achieved. The basic storyline is about a slightly dysfunctional family who bundle into their cellar for the night due to the German bombs being dropped in their area. Whilst there, a bizarre creature is there waiting for them who has an uncanny knack for killing, despite looking like a slug with teeth. The characters had potential but they all seemed a little two dimensional and were definitely lacking believability. I would say that inspiration came from the classic sci-fi/horror Alien, but this one is nowhere near these lofty heights. Maybe next time.

Battlefield Death Tales (2012)

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