5 out of 10

UK / Finland Co-production

Release Date: 4th May 2012

Director: Marko Maaklilaakso

Cast: Andrew Tiernan, Jouko Ahola, Samuel Vauramo, Mikki Lempilampi, Magdelena Gorski with Antti Reini and Mark Wingett

Writer: Marko Maaklilaakso



Arggggh! Not more Zombie Nazis.  Haven’t we been here before recently with the Outpost movies? Well, yes and no. What War Of The Dead does prove is that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  From the first scene, this version of SS turbo corpses never lets up.  It is probably the most relentless and breathless chase movie I’ve seen on such a low budget. It also knocks most britpic horrors for six in the energy stakes. Did we like it at Britpic Bungalows though? Not really. There’s only so much of running around some woods and running down dank corridors with minimal dialogue I can take, but saying that, this is an above average zombie flick considering the ubiquity of the genre.

A handful of American soldiers led by Captain Stone (ANDREW TIERNAN – 300) are seconded to a squadron of Finnish soldiers to neutralise a German bunker on the Russian border.  What awaits them are a pack of scientifically altered dead German soldiers intent on biting and eating anything in their path.  The bunker seems to be the source of this undead force.  Quickly whittled down to a handful of soldiers, including former World’s Strongest Man, Jouko Ahola and Mark Wingett  (GREEN STREET 3) (with a very wobbly Texas accent)the survivors try and find shelter from the relentless wave of undead killers. And that’s the plot, such as it is.

War Of The Dead leaves Outpost one in the dirt and doesn’t even try to tackle Outpost 2 for a crack at a backstory or logic.  It’s just a sprint for those without an attention span.  The proceedings are bolstered by endless decapitations, shootings, stabbings, burnings, etc. The script consists of “help”, “run”, “hurry!”, so it delivers in that respect. The make-up team and the production design is also top notch.  It has more energy and life to it than the last ten straight-to-DVD zombie movies, so it’s a shame it’s takes no risks.  But hey, why should a movie about Zombie SS do anything but enthrall the viewer with a 90 minute sprint through gore and death.  Even the bad acting, accents and the non-existent characters are forgivable. Mark Wingett‘s not  the only one with a dodgy accent either (I always pity Andrew Tiernan, who is always saddled with foreign accents he cannot manage in every film.)

5 out of 10 – Not bad, not great. But it’s lack of ambition see it through and it ends up delivering in spades unlike it’s close neighbour Outpost.  It’s like the makers sat and watched said movie and went, this is what they should have done. Please no more low budget Brit-Zombie movies. Get some new ideas.

Review below by Joe Pesci II


  • Andrew Tiernan: The Messenger (2015), Automata, 300 – part II, Mr Nice, FreightDead Cert, 300, The Pianist, The Bunker, Face, The Trial (1993), Edward II, As You Like It (1992)
  • Antti Reini: Spaceship
  • Mark Wingett: Eliminators, I Am Hooligan, Green Street 3, Run For Your Wife, Snow White & The Huntsman, Intruders, Franklyn, The Bill (TV), Quadrophenia

One thought on “WAR OF THE DEAD

  1. WAR OF THE DEAD review by Joe Pesci II

    Great title! Two interpretations immediately suggest themselves to me: (a) a powerful, gritty anti-war film suggesting that everyone involved is dead metaphorically and/or physically, and (b) a big fight with zombies! But this is a Britpic, so of course it’s going to be a Nazi zombie movie (sort of). The title is a little misleading, but MINOR SKIRMISH INVOLVING SOME FINNS, RUSSIANS AND UNDEAD SOLDIERS doesn’t have quite the same ring, even if it more adequately sums up this astonishingly average effort.

    And I’m not quite sure how this qualifies as a Britpic as it seems to be a Finnish film (in English); I suppose some dumb British company put a few quid in and insisted on having a major British star in a leading role. Which brings us to Andrew Tiernan, who I think was playing an American and has to deliver some cringe-inducingly horrible lines (‘On your feet soldier, it ain’t over yet’, ‘Let’s dance’ that sort of thing. My favourite was ‘You fox’, though I may have misheard). What do you mean ‘who’s Andrew Tiernan?’?

    Meanwhile all of the cast sound like they’ve been dubbed, which really confused me as I was convinced that Jouko Ahola was really the British (and therefore English speaking) actor Stephen Wight. Even the ones who really are English don’t sound like themselves.

    But what about the story? If you’ve seen OUTPOST or OUTPOST 2 or read the extremely incisive reviews of those films on this website, you will perhaps be familiar with Mr Hitler’s attempts to reanimate the dead and turn them into a fighting force. Well, here’s more of the same, the primary difference being that WAR OF THE DEAD is set during World War Two itself (Finnish-Russian division). In my musings on OUTPOST I said ‘It should be a dumb, demented, blood-splattering festival of destruction (whether you like that sort of thing or not).’ Well, WAR OF THE DEAD is dumb, and there’s frequent blood-spattering, but it isn’t demented really (except for it being a film about soldiers fighting against undead bad guys). And it somehow manages to be just as dull as OUTPOST, which was a bit of a surprise. Maybe there’s less mileage in this idea than one might think.

    So some American soldiers team up with some Finnish ones and go off to do some sort of bunker-bashing. Among the team we find Andrew Tiernan spouting such tripe as ‘Sir, is there something you’re not telling me… regarding this mission?’, and obligatory ex-The Bill regular Mark Wingett guest-starring as some sort of reporter with an accent of debatable origin. He gets killed quite early on but I missed it (I might have nodded off). There’s also Mikko Leppilampi and Jouko Ahola who I guess are big names in Finland. They get into a fight with some Nazis or Russians (I can’t remember which) but are mildly perturbed when they come back AFTER DYING and reduce the cast somewhat. Curiously our surviving heroes don’t really wonder much about why this should be, but I suppose they don’t have time, and they all head off to the sort of farmhouse people in zombie movies often head off to. The cast is rapidly whittled down to three, but they do pick up a nice Russian along the way, who is both helpful and brings a quite astonishingly inept romantic subplot along with him.

    Anyway they all end up in a bunker where those evil SS types had been doing experiments in reanimating and rearming the dead. Some carnage ensues.

    That’s about it really. There are a lot of bullets sprayed merrily around (often to no effect) and a bit of blood and guts, and Andrew Tiernan says things like ‘Save it for later, kid. Right now I gotta go. Company’s coming.’ and there’s some male bonding and things blowing up, but it all seems very laboured and unnecessary. It’s reasonably put together, nicely edited, sluggishly paced, and looks reasonably grim (but not too grim), and it’s all wrapped up with a nice 80s-style power ballad at the end, and I wonder what was the point of the film in the first place? The story is basic, the idea has been used (albeit even less interestingly), the script is poor, the acting correspondingly negligible, the action is sleep-making, the gore is neither here nor there. It’s all a bit Snore of the Dead.

    But what of the central metaphor I hear you ask. Being a sort of zombie film, what are the undead meant to represent? Is the writer-director Marko Makilaakso suggesting that the endless clashes of ideology (whether they be religious or economic) which define us have reached such proportions that even death cannot stop war? Is he suggesting that the ideological differences between, say Islam and the West (or capitalism vs communism, or white vs black, or Arab vs Jew, Syrian government vs Syrian rebel etc etc), will one day be settled not by which side is left standing at the end so much as by which side won’t lie down? Indeed, is Makilaakso engendering here a nightmare scenario in which warfare between different camps of thought and belief find a way to perpetuate themselves beyond the lives of their own combatants? Is he also therefore suggesting somehow (like Shaw in Major Barbara) that the only possible beneficiaries are not the fighters, or even those who command them, but the arms dealers for whom such a scenario would be a form of heaven? Or is he suggesting that enmity goes beyond individuals and becomes deep-rooted in our communal subconscious thus dooming us all to perpetual animosity and violence? Personally, I don’t think he’s saying any of these things. I think he’s saying: look killer Nazi (or possibly Russian) ghosty-things, shoot them! And sometimes that’s all you need to say.

    So, the burning question: if I had to recommend just one evil Nazi zombie movie, which one would I choose? Go with OUTPOST 2, but only if you’re desperate.

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