Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Ski Troop Attack (1960)


Based on my recent reviews you may have expected today's to be the fifth Resident Evil movie. But I don't actually own that on DVD, as yet, so it's not. Expect to see it sooner rather than later, though, as it has been ordered.

Instead, I sat down to watch Ski Troop Attack, a Roger Corman-helmed WW2 film. Corman also has a cameo role in the film, appearing as the least Aryan Nazi you've ever seen, as they needed a replacement for a cast member who broke their leg. The film traces the actions of a small group of US ski troops, ranging behind German lines in December 1944. The unit has been instructed to stick to recon and avoid engagement with the enemy, an order the patrol commander is determined to follow, much to the resentment of his sergeant. The insubordination of the sergeant and how the lieutenant handles that (and of course, their inevitable grudging camaraderie) is actually the main narrative thread running through the film. There are plenty of other events of course: a firefight with an enemy patrol, a raid on a farmhouse where they meet a German woman who still believes in the Reich's victory, an unintentionally comical abseiling scene. There's also the movie's climactic sequence, during which the expected male bonding takes place: a raid to destroy a bridge over which the German reinforcements are entering the region.

So is the movie any good? Well, honestly the performances are ok, and the script not terrible. On the other hand, its cheapness is obvious, with all the battle scenes being real WW2 footage, and it doesn't tread any new ground. It reminds me a lot of 1930s "Poverty Row" westerns: it's utterly unmemorable, falling short of being good but lacking the distinction of being notably bad either. There are many, many better war movies, and Ski Troop Attack lacks the gonzo touch of Corman's SF and horror films, making it ultimately a very forgettable affair. And that, to me, is an even bigger failing than being truly, memorably atrocious.

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