Aka “Operation: Nazi Zombies” aka “Maplewood”
It’s Zombie Week here on The Cinephilliacs, and that pleased me greatly; while Zombie movies are surprisingly difficult to do well, they are near impossible to do badly.
What is that supposed to mean? You may remember that a few weeks ago, I reviewed “Birdemic: Shock and Terror”. In that review, I broke down in detail why the movie was so utterly terrible, before admitting that I had loved it. It raises an interesting question about what actually defines a “bad movie”; given that a film’s primary purpose is to entertain, can a movie which entertained you (even for the wrong reasons) truly be said to be bad?
That’s what I mean when I say that zombie movies are difficult to do badly; they may fail spectacularly on every level of film making, but it’s a rare zombie movie that fails to entertain.
Which brings us to this heap of shit.
My review of this movie will, for the most part, be very similar to the Birdemic one, hitting many of the same notes. I point this out now, because I don’t want you to think I’m pulling the same trick; I am not. This movie was genuinely terrible. There will be no funny reveal, no sudden rug pulling, and no “…and I loved every minute of it”; this movie is not “so bad it’s good”, this movie is not charming in it’s incompetency; this movie is a waste of an otherwise blank DVD, and you should avoid it. If a friend tells you to see this movie, ditch them; you can find better friends.
I get that the movie was made on a shoestring, and I really do hate to rag on border-line amateur productions; but some movie making sins are unforgivable, and budget is no excuse.
Poor effects and limited sets, for instance, are forgivable in a low budget feature, (not completely excusable, because these things can be worked around, but forgivable). What isn’t forgivable however are the things that don’t actually cost money; a decent story is as cheap as a poor one, and there are surely some good amateur actors out there.
Shot on consumer grade equipment, with sound so poor as to require your full concentration at all times, no effort has been made to mask the cheapness of the whole affair; a simple Adobe Aftereffects filter could have at least been used to add some film grain, or do some colour correction, but no. I strongly suspect that what came out of the camera is what you see.
Starting in a military prison in present day, the entire movie is a single flashback to an army operation to finally shut-down the long abandoned “Maplewood Project” in which 120 people were used as subjects, 50 of those subjects (zombies, obviously) remaining contained within the facility.
A group of terrible actors are sent down into the facility, where they argue a lot, get trapped in rooms and occasionally have a scuffle with some of the subjects, either off-screen or in near darkness. We occasionally (very occasionally) get a look at a small herd of zombies, filmed in extra-shaky-cam from bizarre angles, but aside from some gun fire, anything which threatens to be interesting is obscured from us. One action scene was in total darkness for a full minute – and I mean “total darkness” I actually got up and leaned around my TV to make sure the DVD player’s video cable hadn’t come loose from the back of the set.
I’m fairly sure our protagonists were underground when they went down to do their clean-up duties, if I understand correctly, the lift broke and stranded them down there, but when the plot requires it they seemed suddenly to be outside and above ground.
Aside from junk-acting, piss poor camera work, and non existent editing, the film has one final crime up its sleeve. Near the end of the film one of the soldiers says something like “all that for a damn nazi plot”; this is the only time Nazis are mentioned. Until this throwaway line, it’s been fairly clear that Project Maplewood was a 1970s US project.
That’s right; the movie “Nazi Zombies” contains absolutely zero Nazi Zombies… Or Nazis at all for that matter.
For this, writer / director / editor David B. Stewart III (who also loses points for using the “the third” part of his name) owes me a refund. It’s bad enough that he murdered 86 minutes of my life which I’ll never get back; but he did it on false pretences.
You might think I’m being harsh. “Blame him for a poor movie” you might say to me, “but don’t name and shame him for the marketing, he was probably not involved in that side of things”.
And you’d be wrong.
The IMDB plot summery for the movie says “A team of Army Special Forces is sent into a secluded, secret biological weapons facility, only to fall prey to the specimens of a Nazi experiment that was recreated by the Army Chemical Corps and the CIA after World War II. When the chain of command breaks, the soldiers find themselves trapped in a world of flesh eating zombies, Government assassins and the ultimate evil!”
That is that not the movie I watched!
The worst part, though, of the inaccurate IMDB synopses, is that it was written by non other than David B. Stewart III himself. For shame Mr. Stewart, for shame!
I like to try and end my reviews with a quote from the movie. Ordinarily, I do this without fanfare or accreditation, letting it hang there like a surreal sign-off. Today, while I am still going to end with a quote from the movie, I am going to add an attribution, not to the character, but to the writer (they are, after all, his words). I hope that doing so will bring me some closure.
“I’m so sorry for what I’ve done.”
– David B. Stewart