The Outpost horror movie franchise pitted mercenaries against Nazi super-soldier zombies, but how do the three movies rank compared to each other?
The franchise has brought Nazi zombies to the screen three times, but have the horror series’ efforts been a case of diminishing returns? Released in 2008, the original Outpost is a British zombie horror with a clever conceit at its core. The movie’s story follows a set of mercenaries as they explore a disused WWII-era bunker — only to find zombie Nazis plague the place.
As Army of the Dead’s recent zombie horror heist proved, sometimes an innovative approach is all a genre movie needs to spawn a franchise. After the release of Outpost, it was four years before the straight-to-DVD sequel Black Sun arrived. The franchise ended a year later — for now, at least — with the release of Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz.
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Some zombie franchises, like 2009’s Zombieland, run out of steam after only one outing and receive worse critical write-ups when their sequels come shambling along. Others, like Romero’s Night of the Living Dead series, find new ways to innovate on the premise of killer corpses and feature sequels that are better-received than the original. So, which category does the Outpost series land in?
Despite holding onto the services of original director Steve Barker, the sequel Outpost: Black Sun is the weakest in the series. Horror video games make great movies but they really shouldn’t feel like video games, which is the trap this more ambitious follow-up falls in. The original has a grimy premise reminiscent of classic siege horrors, whereas this sprawling tale sees the cast wander through numerous rural villages in a fashion that will be all-too-familiar to fans of military games. This meandering approach saps the story of any real tension, which is a shame as there is potential to its story of Nazi-hunters seeking out the amoral villains (where the other two movies in the series see their cast stumble into their lair by accident).
Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz (2013)
Like many horror prequels, Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz struggles to make the franchise’s backstory an involving plot in and of itself. It is fun to see the Soviets tangle with the medically enhanced Nazi super-soldiers this time around though, and antihero Dolokhov (bizarrely named after a supporting character in War and Peace) is a solid protagonist. However, Rise of the Spetsnaz doesn’t add anything new to the already overstuffed “Nazi medical experiments create monsters” sub-genre, and lacks the visceral thrills of the original.
The original and still the best of the series so far, what Outpost lacks in backstory or plot it makes up for in effective scares. The tale of a group of hardened mercenaries tricked into facing off against monstrous, mutated Nazi zombies is an undeniably effective slice of brutal horror that would make George A Romero proud. ‘s Michael Smiley is superb, as is much of the rapidly-dwindling cast, but the main appeal is to see history’s greatest monsters crossed with horror’s most infamous foes. In terms of Nazi zombie action horror, delivers on the gory thrills that its sequels can only reach for.
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Originally published at https://screenrant.com on August 2, 2021.