(Weird) Watching with Alex, Episode 19: Go For The Gold!

Bunker of the Dead [2016]
Directed by: Matthias Olof Eich, as ‘Matthew O. Oaks’
Written by: ‘Matthew O. Oaks’ & Bernd Strack
Featuring: Patrick Jahns, Esther Maaß & Aciel Martinez Pol
Production: Praetoria Productions
Category: Go-Pro Zombie Nazis

In the last review I stated that the “Found Footage” sub-genre of horror is a love-or-hate category of film making. With that in mind, I dare anybody to watch Bunker of the Dead and not have a good time. For starters, you won’t have a lot of Expendable Meat to deal with for a good deal of the film, just two main characters: Thomas, who is only physically in the movie for the first several scenes but still plays an important and interesting role, (More on that later.) and Markus, a charismatic if bumbling guy who will carry us deep into the madness of this film.

When we meet them, Markus and Thomas are in Oberammergau, Bavaria putting the finishing touches on their plan to go after a classic Macguffin: lost Nazi gold. Thomas, you see, has been working with the contents of a Jewish diary from WWII (Captain Obvious would like to jump in for a moment and inform the reader that the diary was kept by a Jewish man during the war; the diary is not, in fact, Jewish.) and several other old documents to determine the location of a former underground military based code-named “CERUSIT”. He now believes he has the location and entrance to the base pinned down. Markus, for his part, has been fitting and testing the custom-made suit that he will be using both for protection while infiltrating the old base and to stay in communication with Thomas.

The two get onto the modern base grounds under the guise of being invited up to the range by their “uncle” with papers that are good enough to get them through the checkpoint with instructions to stay on the road and proceed directly to the range. Once inside the perimeter, they abandon the road for a fenced-off area. There may be live current running through that fence but it’s no match for Markus’ insulated gloves and once he’s on the other side the two finish syncing up the suit’s systems, a hidden helmet camera and wrist-mounted communication pad that will enable Markus to stay in communication with Thomas at all times as he makes his way to the hidden entrance to the old base. With the journal in hand, he sets off for glory.

Markus hasn’t been bushwhacking for maybe more than a few minutes before he encounters a patrol vehicle while crossing a dirt road. He quickly ducks into a ditch as the soldiers perform a brief search to decide whether or not the one guy actually saw anything. His surprisingly good attempt at hiding results in him getting pissed on by one of the guys before they head back to the vehicle, but Markus’ communicator alerts them to his presence again and, with weapons drawn, they tell him not to go anywhere. The ensuing slope-rolling, tree-dodging, bullet-ducking chase that ensues is a very good lesson in why flipping off armed military personal and running away probably isn’t the wisest course of action.

Running face-first into a patrolling soldier (“You’re a girl!”) almost gets him busted but Markus must have a bundle of four-leaf clovers up his ass because he gets away again, eventually making his way to the dam that Thomas has been leading him to. Mind you, it still takes him a while with Thomas yelling at him from the communicator’s screen, but Markus listens to reason this time and manages to duck the guard atop the structure and make his way down to the river and the mouth of the cave. From here on, he’ll be intermittently placing down transmitters to boost the signal between the two of them, as it’s all underground from here. First, however, he’ll have to swim through a section of flooded cave.

The other side is something else, all right. There’s an old, rusted door leading into the old Nazi base. This act of the movie turns into a pretty awesome “FPS UrbEx” adventure as Markus ventures deeper into the ruins of the base, seeing only by the light of his torch and guided by Thomas through voice and visually on the communicator from time to time. The “S” sets in when he encounters a zombified nurse and soon has a whole assortment of zombified Nazis attacking him. Markus’ technique of dealing with the zombies, ranging from improvised melee weapons and hand-to-hand to scavenged relic pistols, all while Thomas goes over old maps from the car trying to lead him to safety, is really an epic thing to watch, especially when he has to deal with a hulk of an undead in a room full of old tanks, like treads-go-boom-boom tanks. If there were a video game made to those exacting specifications, I’d play it.

Over the course of all that, Markus has to venture deeper into the ruins, where he encounters old war files, bizarre super weapons, and cryogenics tanks. I’ll let you find out what’s in the cryogenic tanks yourself because it’s awesome. He even finds a gold ingot, but celebrate as he might, Thomas keeps reminding him that they have more pressing matters now. But then Markus finds something odd. Among the Nazi dead in one section of the base, he finds dead American soldiers dressed and armed from the 1960’s. Wasn’t this base supposed to be lost? Now he has to deal with zombies from both sides, and that’s when the cavalry arrives in the form of soldiers from the current above-ground operations. And then, like in all movies of this pedigree, the fit hits the shan!

Favored Ability: STR/CHA. The dark, aged maze of the old WWII military base is a great backdrop for the overcharged zombie shenanigans and there’s plenty of dark humor peppered throughout.

Rating: 4/5 (Above Average) [+Cryo Surprise, +1 Urban Exploration Bonus, +1 One-Liner Combo, +1 Hitler Punching]

Am I being a bit less than objective with the rating here? Maybe, but I absolutely loved every second of this absurd zombie adventure. The only thing holding Bunker of the Dead back from a perfect score is the fact that once the soldiers show up in the third act it goes from being an interesting flavor of FF to a more standard action movie sandwich. I’m sure there are people who wouldn’t want to watch a movie that’s just a snarky asshole run around by himself for ninety minutes wasting zombies in an old Nazi bunker, but I’m definitely not one of them. 😀

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