Wednesday, August 06, 2008
A So Bad It's Good Movie Review: "S.S. Doomtrooper," a.k.a. "Harry Van Gorkum Is An Indestructible Badass "
Yes, I know, I've done so many romance novel reviews that it's been forever since I've done a movie review. But I had to do this one - it was terrible. Terribly hilarious-awesome, I mean. Is it bad? Oh yes, it's bad. But let me describe it for you beyond the shallow labels of "terrible dialogue," "illogical plot," and "ridiculous production values."
It's World War II, and Nazi Lieutenant Reinhardt (Kirk B R Woller) arrives at a bizarre, possibly Mayan Temple-ish fortress inexplicably situated in the middle of France. He's come to inspect the laboratory of Eeeeevil Nazi Mad Scientist Professor Ullman (Ben Cross - who looks like Christopher Lloyd and Willem Dafoe had one crazy-ass baby), who has been working on an experiment to defeat the Allies.
Professor Ullman, having received his Ph.D in Eeeeevil Nazi Mad Science, knows intimately the two driving forces behind the science responsible for super villains and Frankensteins the world over: Radiation and Lightning. Boring, real-world science would tell you that these things, when applied to the human body, would give it nothing more than a painful slow death (cancer) or a painful quick death (electrocution), but Eeeevil Nazi Mad Science knows better. Ullman's combined the power of both electricity and split atoms in a contraption that looks like an Easy Bake Oven if designed for boys (it even has the dim light bulb on the inside). When tried out on one of Reinhardt's men, it swells him up like a piece of purple, glowing popcorn and turns him into a poorly-animated monster with disproportionately enormous arms. Look out, Allies!
Meanwhile, the Allies (comprised of two generals - one with a Passable British Accent and one with a Terrible British Accent), catching wind of the Nazis' dastardly plans, have called in crackerjack American soldier Captain Malloy (Corin Nemec, of Stargate SG-1) to assemble an equally crackerjack team to find this secret lab and destroy it. They inform Malloy that both sides of the war have been experimenting with atomic radiation, and while the Americans have been working on a bomb capable of destroying an entire city (Malloy makes a gallant effort to not to look at the camera and keep a straight face as he says, "A bomb destroy a city? I don't believe it!"), the Nazis have built a lab and are creating Big Nazi Monsters.
Normally, the Allies would just send planes to bomb the shit out of the place, but the Nazis, along with their Eeeevil Nazi Mad Science program, also have an Eeevil Nazi Advanced Radar System that spots and destroys planes with perfect accuracy. When Malloy shows up with his men, Terrible British Accent exclaims, with the obliviousness of Captain Obvious, "This is the biggest team of misfits I've ever seen!" Well, no shit! Can you think of any other type of team capable of foiling the plans of Eeeevil Nazi Mad Scientists?
The team is as follows:
Sergeant Digger (Harry Van Gorkum, who has previous experience in dealing with poorly-animated monsters as Lord Ossric from Dragonheart II): Friends with Malloy (they fought together in North Africa), he volunteers for the job.
Expertise: Explosives. Is also invincible. And AWESOME.
Best Quote: "There is no problem in the world that can't be solved with the proper application of explosives."
Fatal Flaw: Partially deaf thanks to blowing things up too much.
Dies By: Blowing himself up to destroy the Eeeevil Nazi Advanced Radar System, after being shot in the back by a --- OHSHITWAIT HE'S ALIVE! HELL YEAH!
Corporal Johnson (Jonas Talkington): Another person who volunteers for the job, inexplicably.
Expertise: Volunteering for stupid things, and dying first.
Best Quote/Final Words: "We could go up! Yeah, c'mon!"
Fatal Flaw: Sheer stupidity.
Dies By: Being shot by the Big Nazi Monster while trying to climb a ladder to safety.
Corporal Porter (Raicho Vasilev): an army thug convicted for "getting into fights" who is recruited in exchange for a pardon.
Expertise: Hitting people. No, seriously.
Best Quote: "I like to fight ... with my hands. I like to hit people, sir."
Fatal Flaw: Inability to identify situations in which hitting people is not a solution.
Dies By: Being maimed by the Big Nazi Monster after punching it in the face.
Private Andy Papadakis, a.k.a. "Pop-Up" (Asen Blatechki): a convicted felon recruited for the mission in return for a pardon. His exact crime is unknown, although presumably it's for killing people.
Expertise: Sharpshooting - "120 confirmed kills" (he says this with such an uncomfortably smarmy face I'm guessing not all the kills were for the war).
Best Quote: Pop-Up: "You ain't deserting, quitting, or doing anything else other than finishing this mission." Lewis: "Oh yeah, how're you gonna stop me?" Pop-Up: "I'll shoot you in your face."
Fatal Flaw: Uh - he smokes cigarettes?
Dies By: Being shot in the eye (through his gun's viewfinder!) by a Nazi sniper after Rhys-Jones fails to cover him.
Private Rhys-Jones, a.k.a. Jones (John Newton, who resembles Adrian Pasdar's gay cousin): a dandy aristocrat ("37th in line for the throne of England!") who was arrested for impersonating a high-ranking British general. Fights in return for a pardon.
Expertise: Languages and impersonation.
Best Quote/Final Words: "I will accept your surrender, as long as the person responsible for shooting me in the bum comes forward and apologizes."
Fatal Flaw: Cowardice.
Dies By: Firing squad of angry Germans after he shoots their base with a bazooka as a distraction to allow Malloy and the others to infiltrate it.
Private Parker Lewis (James Pomichter): A young recruit busted for stealing Jeeps, who joined in the hope that he'll receive a pardon so he can return and work in his father's bagel shop. Expertise: Can hot-wire/drive any vehicle
Best Quote: "Stupid Joimans!"
Fatal Flaw: Atrocious Jersey accent.
Dies By: Electrocution while hot-wiring the Easy Bake Oven of Doom - head promptly explodes.
Anyway, Malloy's team gets the go-ahead because, really, the Allies have no other option. The team boards a plane, but are forced to bail out when Nazis shoot down their transport. Digger, Lewis, Malloy, Porter and Jones all end up together, but Pop-Up and Johnson land elsewhere. Aware of the American presence, Nazi Lieutenant Reinhardt agrees to let Ullman try out their new Big Nazi Monster to see if it plays well with others.
Pop-Up and Johnson run into the Big Nazi Monster first. Johnson, being a moron, dashes out of hiding for no reason and crosses the monster's path to get to a ladder and is promptly shot. Yes, shot. The Nazis spent all this time and money turning a soldier into a behemoth capable of tearing people apart with its bare hands and they give it a gun. And a helmet that covers its face - either it was too expensive to animate facial expressions or it has some sort of Phantom of the Opera thing going for it, either way, it looks like a Boss from a Playstation One first-person shooter.
Pop-Up is saved when the others arrive and distract the Big Nazi Monster with grenades so that they can make a quick getaway. Meanwhile, Reinhardt gives Ullman tentative congratulations on his creation of a successful killing machine and sends a contingent of men to recover it. Ullman, sotto voce to his evil female assistant (whom we know is evil because she is blond and wears bright red lipstick, the whore), rather dourly reveals that they'll most likely end up killed by the monster as well. He didn't create the monster to please the lieutenant, he says, he created a monster to win the war. Well, he's a crazy scientist, what did you expect?
The Nazis overtake the Big Nazi Monster and attempt to relate to it with a rousing chorus of "Sieg Heil!" (the Nazi kumbaya, doncha know). Big Nazi Monster does not like rousing choruses, and proceeds to fry their leader with electricity that comes out of its hands and then shoots the rest with its redundant gun. One Nazi escapes.
While all this has been going on, our intrepid heroes have discovered the hideout of the French resistance, led by Mariette (Marianne Filali) who is friendly-French and Jean-Michele (Julian Bailey) who is nasty-French. Mariette offers helpful advice and informs our heroes of the sinister goings-on at the Eeeevil Secret Nazi Lab and the Big Nazi Monster's apparent invulnerability to harm. Jean-Michele makes sarcastic comments and makes overly-loud quips like "Stupide Americains!" Lewis suddenly remembers he's from "Joisey" and calls Jean-Michele a "joik" with a "croissant up his ass." That's some classy writing right there.
No one knows how to kill the monster, and everyone's running out of ammo, and the lab itself is incredibly tightly guarded, so Mariette suggests that the Americans take over a nearby ammunition depot - either to steal ammo and guns and explosives from it, or use the depot itself as a giant bomb to destroy the Big Nazi Monster.
The scintillating dialogue is interrupted by the Big Nazi Monster, who drops in on the secret hide-out completely unannounced. Everyone in the rooms shoots at it, to no avail, but brave meat-head Corporal Porter buys time for our heroes to escape by punching the Big Nazi Monster in the face. Sure, bullets and grenades don't work, but surely his manly meaty fists will! Sadly, neither him nor his fists fare well by the Big Nazi Monster, but the rest of the men are able to flee, along with two surviving members of the French resistance (read: the only ones to get any lines) - Mariette and Jean-Michele.
Meanwhile, Nazi Reinhardt is none too pleased about the Big Nazi Monster killing German soldiers. In an oddly intelligent move for a Bad Movie Authority Figure, he immediately recognizes that an indiscriminate killer does not make a useful weapon and orders the experiment's termination. Ullman responds by shooting him and his bodyguard point-blank in the chest. Oh well, that's what you get for making responsible decisions in a Bad Science Fiction movie!
The heroes decide the best way to get into the depot is to steal a tank. Easy enough - while Pop-Up readies his rifle on a nearby empty building, the rest of our band sneaks behind a slow-moving tank, trying to look inconspicuous. Despite Jones, who suddenly goes squirrelly and starts disobeying simple orders for no reason, they kill the tank drivers and Lewis gets in the driver's seat just in time for the Big Nazi Monster to show up. Distracting the monster with a tank-bullet straight in the gut, our heroes flee the scene yet again.
Arriving at the weapons depot, Jones (fresh from a stiff-upper-lip talking-to by Digger on looking out for one's teammates), impersonates a German to gain entry. When his creativity runs out and the Nazis get suspicious, Lewis leaps out of the tank and proceeds to slaughter them all with a machine gun. He misses two (somehow), but before our heroes get aerated loyal sniper Pop-Up takes them out with a merry wink at the camera. Digger shows up on scene with a drawn gun a full minute after the gunfire ends, with a slightly guilty look, to remind the audience that yes, he is Deaf, and has merely used his Sheer Awesomeness to comprehend the whispered commands and quiet noises directed at him up until now.
The plan is set - lure the Big Nazi Monster into the weapons depot, sneak out the back, and the blow the whole place to kingdom come. Waiting for the Big Nazi Monster, Jean-Michele and Lewis share an actual moment of camaraderie when Lewis reveals his post-war plan of making bagels with his dad. Jean-Michele looks surprised, and reveals that he, too, is a baker. United in their love of dough and yeast, their moment of boundary-crossing friendship is broken by the appearance of the Big Nazi Monster, who has been led to the depot by Malloy, Mariette, and a flamethrower.
Big Nazi Monster chases our heroes through the front door of the depot, but gets suspicious and turns back. However, our heroes (Jean-Michele in particular) remember in the nick of time to block the front door. Miffed, Big Nazi Monster uses his inexplicable electrical powers to zap the door from the inside - which doesn't open the door, but does French-fry Jean-Michele into a comical animated skeleton. Digger comforts Mariette by giving her the switch to blow up the depot. An enormous explosion ensues, complete with swirling coloured sparks that look suspiciously like fireworks.
Now that the depot (and, presumably, the Big Nazi Monster) are destroyed, our heroes' next task is to infiltrate the Eeeeevil Nazi Mad Science Lab to prevent more monsters from being created (unbeknownst to them, the Eeeevil Nazi Mad Scientist is already readying three more soldiers for the Easy Bake Oven of Doom). Crawling through a snowy forest, a German pop song wafts through the air, indicating that there are (dancing?) Nazis nearby. Pop-Up is sent out to eliminate the guard, and Jones is tasked with covering him.
It is now that Jones' stiff upper lip goes flaccid and he panics, trembling and sitting on his ass as his comrades look on in disgust and Pop-Up proceeds unprotected. Pop-Up, one of the more rational characters in the film, is rewarded for saving Jones' life by being killed by Jones' cowardice. To be fair, however, he's murdered by a truly excellent sniper - milliseconds away from firing his weapon, he's shot cleanly through the eye through the viewfinder of his own gun.
Stiff upper lip totally limp now, Jones makes a run for it, only to be shot about two seconds later and collapse. Only now realizing that Jones is a liability, his former comrades (at the behest of Malloy and Digger, whose stiff upper lip is still perfectly intact) leave his body under a tree with a vague promise to come back for him. A few minutes later, Jones comes to his senses, and pulls out his family crest which miraculously caught the bullet that should have killed him, and rolls his eyes as if even he is exasperated with the turn the plot has taken.
With Jones' acting expertise compromised by the lead projectile which seemingly punctured his chest, Malloy and Lewis are forced to try out their best German accents to try and fool the Eeeevil Nazi Mad Science lab guards. Dressed in dead soldiers' uniforms, driving a stolen jeep and armed with confiscated French booze, the best they can manage is "jah" as they try to distract the Nazis with a particularly fruity vintage. Lewis' "Joiman" accent is even worse than his "Joisey" accent.
However, it is at this point that Jones is able to redeem himself. Left behind by the others, he reaches the lab later and, pulling a bazooka seemingly out of his ass, fires on the lab, distracting the soldiers from the two Germans who seemingly know no German words that aren't "yes," "very good" and "wine." The Germans pour out of the lab like ants from an anthill and Jones is not only soon surrounded, but quickly finished off with a firing squad. Normal Bad Movie Henchman protocol is to take suspicious, smartass suspects with hidden talents prisoner instead of killing them outright, but apparently these must be the men of the Late Lieutenant, similarly trained in uncharacteristic common sense.
Now freed from undue scrutiny, Lewis and Malloy and Mariette (hidden with Digger in the back of the stolen jeep until now) stand watch, as Digger sets up the bomb underneath the Eeevil Nazi Advanced Radar System. However, Digger is spotted, and not hearing Malloy's warning thanks to his faulty hearing, is shot in the back. Wounded, he kills his attacker, but the gunshots attract the rest of the Nazi troops.
Malloy, Mariette, and Lewis, very much outnumbered, prepare to flee into the lab itself, entreating Digger to join them. But Digger is a badass, and his stiff upper lip bows to no man. In the name of Queen and Country, Digger valiantly throws the switch to the bomb - blowing up the Eeevil Nazi Advanced Radar System, while he is still underneath it. It looks like the end of him.
Our rapidly-dwindling band of heroes reach the lab and are almost immediately recognized and apprehended by the Blond Nazi Whore. They are escorted to the Easy Bake Oven of Doom, where they are treated to a lecture by Professor Ullman on the genius of his work, etc. etc. A demonstration of the Easy Bake Oven of Doom was also on the schedule but Malloy steals a gun and shoots the soldier/intended labrat dead before the Oven can work. Ullman's ointment attracts further flies when the Big Nazi Monster, still alive and perfectly healthy, busts into the lab and fries the Blond Nazi Whore, and events start happening faster. Lewis is finally shot, but in his final moments managed to hotwire the Easy Bake Oven of Doom, which hilariously causes Lewis' head to explode. Malloy shoots Ullman, and then fries the Big Nazi Monster with the hotwired Easy Bake Oven of Doom. As the Big Nazi Monster begins to dissolve into glowing monster chunks, Malloy and Mariette exit stage right.
Meanwhile, the Eeevil Nazi Advanced Radar System is a smoking, twisted wreckage, but underneath - LO AND BEHOLD! Digger is not only alive, but completely unharmed! With a merry wink, he dons his battered red beret, extricates himself from the debris, shoots some Nazis, and escapes with Malloy and Mariette. Through Sheer Awesomeness, his gunshot wound has vanished - there isn't even a hole in the back of his uniform. Malloy and Mariette are both suitably overjoyed at discovering their immortal badass companion is still immortal, and still badass. As our heroes flee into the woods, the fortress dissolves in a giant sphere of radioactive light that looks like an updated version of the lensflare option in Photoshop.
Malloy reports in to his superiors - not only were the Big Nazi Monster and the Easy Bake Oven of Doom and the Eeeevil Mad Nazi Science Lab and Eeevil Nazi Advanced Radar System destroyed, but none of the convicts he hired survived so those pesky pardons are no longer necessary. All is right with the world. Malloy, Mariette, and Immoral Awesome God Digger promptly hot-wire the general's jeep (RIP Lewis) and ride off into the sunset, thus concluding a truly awesomely bad movie.