Nazi Dawn, a.k.a. Black Ops, a.k.a. Deadwater, 2008.
Directed by Roel Reiné.
Starring Lance Henriksen, Gary Stretch, James Russo and Katherine Randolph.
A dark and ghostly wartime secret is about to be uncovered when a battle between good and evil breaks out aboard a WWII-era battleship.
Nazis are without doubt the greatest baddies to ever grace the screen, which is probably the reason Nazi Dawn has chosen to market itself in such a way here in the UK. From the box art, you’d imagine the film was some kind of Ghost Ship with Nazis, and it is, sort of, but if you pick this up looking for something along the lines of Outpost or Dead Snow then you will be disappointed. You see, what you’re actually getting is a low-budget action-horror released in the States under a couple of different names (Deadwater and Black Ops), neither of which has much to do with Nazis. And that’s the kicker – the film really doesn’t have all that much to do with Nazis either, and it’s probably doing itself a bit of a disservice to promote it in such a way.
So then, what’s it all about? Well the US Navy have this old battleship that they’ve converted into a floating prison to cut out the red tape when subjecting prisoners from the war on terror to ‘American interrogation techniques’. Only something’s gone seriously wrong and all communication has been lost. Cue grizzled veteran Captain John Willets (Henrikson) and his team of special forces operatives, who are tasked with infiltrating the ship and extracting a high-value prisoner. Oh, and just to up the stakes, Willets’ son also happens to be on board. Time to lock and load.
Things enter Aliens territory as Willets and his team arrive and search the ship only to discover that the crew have been massacred by an unknown assailant. Well, most of the crew anyway. Willets’ son has managed to survive and fortunately so has the ship’s chef, so at least they can all chow down if they get a bit peckish. Turns out Willets’ son (Stretch) is a bit of a loser who the team all look down upon, which we can infer by the fact that everyone in the entire US military calls him Colin. Even the chef. And of course he has a strained relationship with his father, but that’s not really important for now, not when there’s a killer terrorist on the loose.
Sure enough the team soon capture the bad guy and after a healthy dose of ‘interrogation’, they discover he’s actually nothing but a decoy. Something else is on board (you can tell because it keeps moving past the camera really quickly) and it’s starting to pick off Willets’ team one at a time. Nazis? You bet! You see, around the hour mark Willets takes a leisurely stroll around the ship and discovers that it houses a Nazi Museum, which leads him to unearth the awful truth… during WW2 the battleship had captured a genetically modified SS officer who, after some unfortunate ‘interrogation’, somehow merged his consciousness with the ship to create an unstoppable killing machine, which naturally the Americans want to use as a weapon. Time to get the hell out of there, right? “Not until we complete the mission,” says Henrikson. But wasn’t the mission to evacuate the terrorist? No, it’s “to confront and destroy the enemy.” Silly me, I forgot that confronting and destroying the enemy is a pre-requisite of any US special forces mission.
I’m sure you can guess where this is all going, but is it any good? Well, not particularly, but it’s not completely awful either. When you consider that it’s “from the makers of… House I and II, Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror, Pistol Whipped and The Marine 2“, you should have a pretty good impression of the standard on offer. I was fairly impressed with the overall look of the film given that it was made on a fraction of a percentage of your typical action blockbuster ($350,000), but it is extremely dark, and I mean that in a ‘who put the lights out?’ kind of way.
Obviously the plot is clichéd and the screenplay laughable at times (“Ghosts can’t defy the laws of physics and nature”… hmm, okay), but there are a handful of redeemable points. Henrikson gets a few decent one-liners and Katherine Randolph whips her tits out for a split-second (although the fact they’re covered in blood could be off-putting to some) and there are a couple of unexpected plot twists, the first of which I found interesting and the second, well let’s not mention the second. In short, if you’re looking for a good Nazi horror this is unlikely to satisfy your craving. On the other hand, if you’re looking to pass an hour and a half with a mainly-terrorist-with-a-bit-Nazi horror, then Nazi Dawn is probably your only option.
Nazi Dawn is released on DVD in the UK on August 30th.
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