‘The Asylum presents’ is a headline that sends shivers down the spine of film fans the world over. Responsible for cinematic atrocities – or mockbusters as they’ve come to be known – like Paranormal Entity and Snakes on a Train, The Asylum has been churning out direct-to-video masterpieces for the past 15 years. It’s probably best known (in my world at least) for giving 80s pop stars Debbie Gibson and Tiffany a new lease of life, and reminding me once and for all that nostalgia is best left in the past. But films like Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus are sure to stand the test of time. Unless of course it’s quality entertainment you’re after. In which case, you might want to give War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave a wide berth.
Joseph J. Lawson leads the charge on this one, which makes no difference to the outcome, quite frankly. Quite why they changed the name however remains unclear. Bloodstorm is known as ‘Nazis at the Centre of the Earth’ in the US, which is much funnier (and way more accurate) than the somewhat deceptive Bloodstorm. Deep in Antarctica, a team of ‘scientific researchers’ (and I type that loosely) are abducted by a platoon of masked troopers who – since the fall of Nazi Germany – have hidden in a secret base under the icy wastes. What do you mean, we’ve already seen Iron Sky? Have you not been paying attention at all? Iron Sky saw Nazis hiding on the dark side of the moon, whereas Bloodstorm attacks from beneath the surface. This isn’t a lame attempt at cheap exploitation, ok?
I’ll make it clear from the start. Jack Busey is the only reason why I watched this movie, that and the fact it fell through my door free of charge. Even if he hasn’t made a decent movie since 98’s Enemy of the State, I love him anyway. Busey plays Dr. Adrian Reistad, leader of a – miscast – group of survivors trying desperately to act. I mean trying desperately to act on an escape plan that will result in them escaping a colony of Nazi zombie crossbreeds with patchwork bodies of decaying regenerated flesh. Obviously. Meanwhile Dr Josef Mengele (Christopher Karl Johnson) – who has continued his horrific human experimentation – is masterminding an invasion of Earth from his icy lair. All we need now is an evil laugh.
The only other character you’re likely to recognise is Paige, and that’s probably because she once starred as Nicolas Cage’s jailbait daughter in Face/Off. Dominique Swain plays a nauseating scientist (cough) whose only redeeming feature is the ability to swear in German. Which helps apparently. Bloodstorm stumbles out of the blocks in the same way as the films that preceded it. Except maybe Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus. I quite liked that one. The effects are weak, the writing is terrible and the acting is horrendous throughout. It also takes itself way too seriously. Something The Asylum can often be accused of, despite the demented subject matter. Fortunately Jake Busey shows up pretty quickly, though it’s hard to tell whether he’s embarrassed, confused or just plain taking the piss.
Bloodstorm is a curious departure for The Asylum, because unlike most of its output, Lawson’s debut is all too happy to embrace the darker side of human nature. Which might sound promising at first, but all it really amounts to is the occasional torture sequence and a sprinkling of female fleshy bits. Like I said, sounds very promising indeed. Skin pealing excess is all well and bad, but a gruesome abortion sequence feels out of place, not to mention a little gratuitous. There are times when you’ll pine for some flying shark action, or a one on one face off between two faded pop icons, but just when Bloodstorm starts to lose its way, robot Hitler turns up and all is forgiven.
It’s at this juncture that a strange occurrence takes place. All of a sudden, Bloodstorm discovers a sense of purpose, not to mention a sense of fun. The effects appear that little bit stronger, the writing seems that little bit wittier, and Robot Hitler causes havoc with a dazzling array of laser artillery. Ignoring the exuberant excess of robot Hitler for one moment, Christopher Karl Johnson is the star of the show here, delivering more ham and cheese than a farmyard massacre. The rest of the actors appear to up their games too, or maybe I’m getting carried away. Let’s face it, in one scene alone our least likely protagonist is able to take out an unstoppable nazi soldier with the aid of a baseball, and I’m pretty sure he throws it underarm. Not since Stonehenge Apocalypse have I enjoyed a movie this much, but I’d rather you didn’t quote me on that.
Without the weight of expectation Iron Sky brought with it, Bloodstorm impresses in ways I’d rather not type about. It’s a terrible movie from start to finish, but it does possess a robot Hitler and sometimes that’s all you need. AW