Director: Bill Thomas
Writers: Bill Thomas, Ian Thomas
Stars: Jp Berry, Alex Bevan, Laura Bisby
Considering that the world and it’s dog (and even the dogs favorite stick) are bored to tears with Nazi zombie films, Fallen Soldiers does a neat trick by giving us, well… Napoleonic zombies! It turns out to be a wise move because, although the plot is largely familiar, the historical setting gives it an added level of interest, transforming it from yet another boring low-budget horror movie into something more like Sharpe vs the Undead (or, if you want to be less kind, The Local Historical Reenactment Society vs the Undead).
While travelling across Belgium during the build up to the Battle of Waterloo, wealthy couple Celine (Eve Pearson) and Albert (Roland Bearne) are held up at gunpoint by desperate soldier John Cross (Matthew Neal). Cross demands that they take him to the nearest British command center and, while they travel there, he spins an unlikely story explaining his actions: after being sent to find a missing patrol he stumbled across a French conspiracy to reanimate thousands of Napoleon’s special troops who had died during the failed invasion of Russia. If they should succeed, there will be a massacre…
Made largely because director Bill Thomas – a propmaker on films such as Clash of the Titans and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – had access to a ready supply of period costumes, this is an obviously low budget affair and as such suffers from middling camerawork and a slightly over-lit look. The acting is variable – Matthew Neal is pretty good, but some of the supporting performances are less convincing – and the pacing is hit and miss. If it was a standard zombie film, in other words, it would be forgettable. But, and here’s the crunch, it’s not. It doesn’t try to be a gloomy, dystopian gorefest; it’s more of an action film… with zombies. The plot is undeniably confused – quite why the French are dead set on reanimating lots of soldiers who seem to shatter when punched is a mystery – but it has enough points of interest to stand out. The decision to set much of the film in confined spaces (wagons, dungeons) works well and some of the supporting characters are surprisingly well sketched (a French captain played by Alex Bevan, Zachary Street’s pickpocket turned rifleman). Not bad.