Overlord (USA 2018) Dir: Julius Avery Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the war and horror film genres should be natural bedfellows, and given that World War II is indelibly etched into both British and American popular culture it’s surprising that the many cross genre films that have been attempted have all been execrable dross (special mention for Michael Mann’s 1983 effort THE KEEP, but even that’s a very mixed bag.)
Step forward OVERLORD, the latest offering from JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot stable. The trailer promised much, with FURY levels of war violence mixed in with the Nazi super soldiers trope topped of with AC/DC on the soundtrack. Thankfully, director Julius Avery’s Ronseal approach to his film means we pretty much get what we were promised. The tight narrative sees gentle farm boy turned paratrooper Boyce (Adepo) and his comrades dropped into occupied France on the eve of D-Day to take out a German radio tower located in a nearby town.
They soon discover something very nefarious going on in the German base involving human experiments conducted by the sinister Dr Schmidt (Erich Redman) backed up by rent a villain Nazi Commandant Wagner (Asbæk).
OVERLORD knows that it’s b-movie schlock albeit backed with a decent budget and studio backed marketing, and it and wisely chooses to revels in the fact. With that in mind the script takes care to avoid any incongruous humour, and the cast play the whole thing straight. Thus we avoid tipping into IRON SKY territory with proceedings kept just the right side of ludicrous, as Avery cranks the cartoonish level of violence all the way to eleven.
Unlike the current glut of spandex drenched bore-a-thons bunging up the multiplexes, OVERLORD doesn’t lose sight of the story it is telling and never feels like it has neglected its narrative in favour of spectacle. Sure, it may come in for criticism from some quarters for its theme of Nazi human experimentation, but these are Indiana Jones style comic book nazis, and while Avery’s film riffs off old school exploitation it never reaches ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS levels of bad taste either.
This is a solid action horror that, while containing no surprises, certainly won’t disappoint its intended audience either. And on the face of it who ever went to see an action-horror mash up featuring Nazi super soldiers expecting Shakespearean levels of character development?
Good evening film fiends! Hopefully this unseasonably warm September day finds you all in fine fettle and ready to explore the celluloid wonders winging their way on to our screens soon…
Running tire marks around Ghost Rider… More vengeful than the Crow… Johnny Gruesome grants y’all a death wish this fall. This October, Johnny Grissom returns for revenge.
High school students Eric Carter and Johnny Grissom are best friends. Johnny is a heavy metal rebel nicknamed “Johnny Gruesome” by his classmates. When Johnny is murdered while on a drunken joyride, his killer persuades Eric and Johnny’s girlfriend to help him make the murder look like an accidental death. Johnny returns from the grave as a murderous, wisecracking zombie hell bent on revenge. Based on the award-winning novel by Gregory Lamberson (Slime City, Killer Rack), who also directs, JOHNNY GRUESOME stars Anthony De La Torre, Byron Brown II and Michael DeLorenzo. From Uncork’d Entertainment, JOHNNY GRUESOME on VOD 10/16 and DVD 1/1/2019.
Starring international action star Alexander Nevsky (SHOWDOWN IN MANILA) MAXIMUM IMPACT won Best Action Film of the Year Award at the 14th annual Action on Film International Festival in Las Vegas. MAXIMUM IMPACT also won in Best Action Sequence and Best Special Effects categories. Mr. Nevsky was honoured with the festival’s 2018 Breakout Action Star Award and his co-star Matthias Hues received an Icon Award. Written by Ross LaManna (RUSH HOUR) and directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak (ROMEO MUST DIE), the MAXIMUM IMPACT cast includes Kelly Hu (THE SCORPION KING), William Baldwin (THE PURGE: THE TV SERIES), Tom Arnold (TRUE LIES), Mark Dacascos (JOHN WICK 3: PARABELLUM), and Danny Trejo (MACHETE). MAXIMUM IMPACT will be released in North America in theaters on September 28, 2018, and On Demand, DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Video on October 2, 2018. Distributors are Unified Pictures and Sony. When the granddaughter of the US Secretary of the State is kidnapped in Moscow, an agent of the Federal Security Service of Russia (Alexander Nevsky) and the US Secret Service are forced to put aside their differences and work together to prevent a full-scale international crisis. MAXIMUM IMPACT is produced by Nevsky through his Los Angeles-based production company Hollywood Storm. Nevsky is a former Mr. Universe and is an established movie star in Russia. His credits include MOSCOW HEAT, UNDISPUTED, TREASURE RAIDERS, SOMEWHERE and BLACK ROSE, for which he also directed. Nevsky represents Russia as a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and votes for the Golden Globes.
Nevsky says, “MAXIMUM IMPACT is the biggest film in my career and I’m so glad it was recognized in such a great way at the Action on Film Festival! I’m also happy to receive the ‘Breakout Action Star Award’ and would like to thank ‘Action on Film International Film Festival’ and it’s president Mr. Del Weston for this honor! But I couldn’t be here without my idols Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ralf Moeller and Matthias Hues so I would like to thank them as well for all the inspiration and support over the years!”
From filmmaker and film historian Chris Espenan comes THE COOLEST GUY MOVIE EVER — a fascinating forensic documentary about the making of the classic World War II adventure film THE GREAT ESCAPE — to DVD and digital HD from Virgil Films available now, after a special screening earlier this year at Marché du film in Cannes. Before Evans, Hemsworth, and Downey Jr. there was McQueen, Garner, and Bronson. These men represented what it meant to be tough guys in the 1960s, and they had the acting chops to play the toughest characters around – including the real life airmen who pulled off one of the most improbable escapes in war history. The filming locations of the enormously popular World War II adventure THE GREAT ESCAPE have become enshrined over the years by film buffs and historians alike, forever changing the landscape of the small German towns that once played host to these Hollywood heavyweights. Now for the first time, filmmaker Chris Espenan set out to visit all of the locations in Germany where the 1963 film was made, while compiling facts, behind-the-scenes stories, and inside information on how the film was produced. From visiting Geisel Gastag Studios in Munich to the Bavarian town of Füssen, Espenan assembled a unique team of cameramen, historians, film buffs, and local experts who painstakingly found the exact spots where actors Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, David McCallum, and others toiled in the summer of 1962. Uncovering treasures such as footage from a German television news shoot — which included a rare interview on the set with Steve McQueen — to getting first person interviews from the locals who were there during filming, THE COOLEST GUY MOVIE EVER is a true labor of love, fashioned by filmmakers who exult THE GREAT ESCAPE as one of the most memorable World War II movies ever made, featuring one of the greatest casts ever assembled, and for many, indeed, THE COOLEST GUY MOVIE EVER.
“THE GREAT ESCAPE is my favorite film of all time,” said Producer Steve Rubin. “It is the first film I started researching for my book Combat Films 1945-2010, the subject of my 1993 documentary Return to The Great Escape, and the reason I was nominated for Best Classic Commentary in 2004 for The Great Escape: Special Edition. When filmmaker Chris Espenan came to me with the idea for THE COOLEST GUY MOVIE EVER, I literally dropped everything to help him.” Executive Producer and Virgil Films CEO Joe Amodei echoed Rubin’s sentiments when he said “As a young boy exploring the big wide world of motion pictures for the first time THE GREAT ESCAPE excited me, thrilled me and cemented a love for movies that has stayed with me forever. This is the film that started it all.”
About Virgil Films – Virgil Films & Entertainment was founded in 2003 by Joe Amodei to acquire, market and distribute DVD, TV and Digital Product in the feature film, documentary, special interest and sports categories. The company has built partnerships with OWN, Sundance Channel Home Entertainment, National Geographic Cinema Ventures, Pure Flix Entertainment, Major League Baseball Productions, Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets and other high-profile entertainment brands since their inception. Releases from Virgil Films include the Oscar-nominated documentary Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me; the award-winning documentary Miss Representation; the critically acclaimed, timeless, best-selling Forks Over Knives; and the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo and its sequel Korengal. They have also released the compelling Facing Darkness, I Am Chris Farley, I Am Heath Ledger, Blood on the Mountain, Legends of the Knight, The Winding Stream and others. Follow them on Twitter @virgilfilms www.VirgilFilms.com
On a final note – to any aspiring independent filmmakers, podcasters or film related writers out there out there reading this, let me know if you’d like me to publicize and/or review your projects, The Stricken Land is always happy to promote new talent and ideas! And as ever, please feel free to share this post and any others on here that you like, far and wide.
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