Phillip's Horror Lists, Part Three: War is Hell
Here’s where I give a small (very small) list of my favorite war-themed/related horror films. I’m positive that I’m leaving a few off the list but I’ll be damned if I know what they are. If anyone can think of other good war-themed chillers, let me know. As before, everything is in alpha order. I consider "Dead Birds" and "Dog Soldiers" to be 5-star films, whereas I classify the others as 4-star. Without further ado:
Below (2002) – Directed by David Twohy (“Pitch Black”) and written by Darren Aronofsky, “Below” is a thought-provoking slow burn of a film. Set aboard a submarine during World War II, the film deftly combines both action and horror clichés into something quite interesting. A good cast and thick, claustrophobic atmosphere really helps this one, too.
Dead Birds (2005) – One of my favorite modern horror films, period. I consider this part of the modern horror canon, along with Marshall’s “The Descent” and Slade’s “30 Days of Night.” A group of Confederate bank robbers hole up in a (supposedly) deserted plantation and discover that there are worse things than being shot at by bluecoats…much worse things. I won’t give away any of the film’s secrets but suffice to say that voodoo plays a role and the ending is an absolutely poignant, perfect masterpiece. I cannot recommend this film enough: truly a 5-star gem.
Dog Soldiers (2002) – Neil Marshall’s debut is an effortless combo of war and werewolf movies: call it a “warwolf” movie, I suppose. More than anything, this film, about a military unit fighting off ferocious werewolves, reminds me of a modern update of Cameron’s classic “Aliens.” The adrenaline meter is constantly stuck at red and tension runs high. Marshall followed this film up with “The Descent,” solidifying his place in modern horror history.
Grey Knight (1993) – This odd little film concerns undead Confederate soldiers, voodoo curses, Adrian Pasdar, Corbin Bernsen and Martin Sheen…how could it go wrong? An evil spirit is reanimating the bodies of dead soldiers. Union and Confederate alike must join forces to fend off their ultimate destruction. Effective blend on supernatural and Civil War themes with a very spirited performance by Bernsen: he effectively runs away with the movie anytime he’s on screen.
Outpost (2008) – This creepy World War II-set chiller takes place in a desolate bunker at the front of the fight. A mysterious presence seems intent on either killing or driving mad the survivors of the conflict but whose side is it on? Is this an Axis entity, an Allied spook or something a bit more impartial? Up until a seriously wonky ending, this is a pretty great film. I’m a big fan of WWII-themed horror films and this is a good example of the sub-genre.