War of the Dead
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War of the Dead is a 2011 action horror film written and directed by Marko Mäkilaakso and starring Andrew Tiernan, Mikko Leppilampi, Jouko Ahola, Samuli Vauramo, Andreas Wilson, Mark Wingett, and Antti Reini.
|War of the Dead|
Pre-release poster as Stone's War
|Directed by||Marko Mäkilaakso|
|Music by||Neal Acree, Joel Goldsmith|
In a long corridor of an underground bunker, several prisoners are marching under armed guard. As they approach the door at the end of the corridor, one prisoner seizes his chance to assault a guard, but the door opens almost immediately and several German soldiers step through to mow down the entire group, save for one prisoner who remains standing. The guards grab him and force him through the door, where he is placed on an operating table and held down as a drip is inserted into his arm and blood pumped into his veins. He stops moving for a short time before his eyes blink open revealing his irises have become zombified-white.
Some time later, supposedly in 1941, so presumably during the Continuation War, American Captain Martin Stone (Tiernan) is leading a finely-trained, elite platoon of American and Finnish soldiers along with a cameraman and his son as they are sent to attack the bunker, with no knowledge of its secrets. Underestimating their enemy's strength, they are quickly beaten back into the forest. As they try to regroup, they spy a soldier sloping towards them. Identifying him as a threat, they open fire, but as they investigate his corpse it is revealed the soldier is one of their own dead from the previous encounter, and as he springs to life a second time a number of zombies leap into action from their hiding places in the trees to further destroy the unit.
Forced to flee the battle to survive, Stone along with Finns Captain Niemi (Ahola) and Lieutenant Laakso (Leppilampi) as well as the cameraman's son (Wilson) take refuge in a trench, where they encounter lone Russian soldier Kolya (Vauramo), who seems aware of the zombie presence and leads them to a house where they can shelter. They are rapidly split up and attacked, however, with Niemi being bitten and then killing the young cameraman before being gunned down by Laakso. Meanwhile, Stone finds a car in the garage before being saved by Kolya, who shows impressive hand-to-hand combat skills.
As the three survivors drive into the forest, they are attacked again by Niemi, but manage to escape him relatively easily. Stopping at another cabin, the three survivors bicker about whether to confront the supernatural threat or leave it behind, before they find Kolya's ex-girlfriend Dasha (Gorska). The four then proceed on to the bunker, where Kolya insists they can find a radio to call for help. Entering the facility, they are again split up - as Kolya finds Dasha mortally wounded, having to shoot her in the head to prevent her from turning, Laakso and Stone find the living remnants of the German garrison. As Stone stays behind to cover Laakso, the Finn is reunited with Kolya and the two find the radio room, where they call headquarters to call in an airstrike to take the bunker out for good.
Niemi appears again at the bunker and engages in a fist-fight with Stone, while the radio room is overrun by zombies and Laakso and Kolya are forced to flee. As they near the exit to the surface, Kolya is grabbed by a zombie and falls to his death, with Laakso forced to leave him as he races topside to set the signal flares for the incoming fighter-bombers. Narrowly escaping the bombs, Laakso meets up with Stone again as they surrender to the incoming Russian battalion which has been called to investigate the site, knowing their job is done.
Production occurred in Lithuania, at a cost of €1.3 million (US$1.8 million), making it the most expensive film ever made in Lithuania.
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In a mostly negative review, Variety called it one-dimensional and unmemorable, though predicted healthy sales on home video. On the other hand, Fangoria praised the film highly, calling it "an extremely impressive debut", with a final rating of 3 out of 4 stars.
The initial scene is set in 1939, presumably during the Russo-Finnish War. What Nazi scientists are doing helping the Finns is not explained.
The bulk of the film is set in 1941, presumably between the start of the Continuation War and Pearl Harbor. How neutral US troops in US uniforms can be serving with the Finns is never explained.
The classic US M-1 steel helmets are too late for 1941. The American Captain wears a Vietnam War era Enlisted uniform jacket under his trench coat. The same Captain also wears odd Captain rank bars on a patch on his arm, when Officer rank is meant to be warn on the collar or shoulders.
The nature of the border in the area where the film is set, though mentioned, is never adequately explained. The German experimental bunker is described as a Soviet bunker but is full of Nazis, undead and otherwise. It is said to be behind "enemy lines", but things are so confused by this stage that it is unclear which enemy is meant.
The air strike at the end is presumably meant to be Finnish. It is hard to imagine that it is American, and a Soviet radio communication after it is ordered makes it clear it is not Soviet. Yet the aircraft resemble Soviet Polikarpov I-16 fighters. They are also clearly not bombers capable of destroying a vast bunker complex.