XLrator Media’s sequel to the Ray Stevenson starring Outpost, Outpost: Black Sun, is now available on various VOD platforms and just arrived on DVD and Blu-ray on this past Tuesday, November 6th. Writer/Director Steve Barker makes his return guiding the franchise.
I hopped on the phone with Barker earlier this week to talk about his approach to the sequel and how he crafted a film that looks relatively huge on a small budget.
The sequel stars Catherine Steadman (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Tudors), Richard Coyle (Prince of Persia, W.E., Grabbers) Julian Wadham (The Iron Lady, Outpost, The English Patient, The Madness of King George), Daniel Caltagirone (Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, The Reeds), Gary McDonald (The Shepherd, Tic), Ali Craig (Pelican Blood), Nick Nevern (Terry, The Deep) and Johnny Meres (The Little Vampire, Outpost).
In the film, “The year is 1945, the closing stages of WWII, and a German scientist is working on a frightening new technology that has the power to create an immortal Nazi army. Flash-forward to present day, and a NATO task force is deployed to Eastern Europe, where a sinister enemy is mercilessly killing everything in its path. But this is no ordinary foe…it’s a super-human army of zombie Nazi Stormtroopers. Defying overwhelming odds, a small band of soldiers venture deep behind enemy lines to uncover the source of this evil power and prevent the rise of the Fourth Reich.”
This feels like a complete action film as well as a horror film. Can you talk about balancing those elements?
The key to me in doing the second one is that I wanted it to be different than the first one. If for no other reason than I’ve only done two movies and I didn’t want them to be exactly the same. So once we were asked to do a sequel, I saw the potential for a more “men on a mission” type of movie. I felt like it gave me a chance to branch out and get away from some of those sneaky dark-corner deaths. I don’t know how many of those I have left in me.
Also, it was really hard on the money we had. The first movie was made for nothing and this film was made for nothing and a bit. And the scale of the script we had was pretty frightening to try and pull off. I was terrified the whole time that it would have that low budget look where you feel like you can see beyond the edges of the frame at all times.
Actually, that’s one of the things I noticed. It looks really big for a low-budget film. It must have been quite difficult to pull off.
I had a great group of people to work with and Darren [Tiernan; cinematographer] is brilliant. I had never worked with him before but I’d seen two of the movies he’d done – a low budget Irish horror film called Outcast and a straight drama called Pelican Blood. Neither of them looked like the movie I wanted to make but I could tell he was brilliant. And I feel so incredibly lucky that he wanted to do this and was okay with it being the same kind of look as the first one.
He’s an exceptional talent. He’s just now immigrated to the tates actually.
Do you feel that this stands alone from the first one?
It’s one of the things you worry about when you’re writing. You want it to stand alone completely but, at the same time, when I was editing I was kind of worried that while it wanted to be its own thing there were occasionally moments that moved more towards sequel territory. My favorite movie growing up was Empire Strikes Back and I’d never seen Star Wars so I want it to work on its own.
You’ve also got Catherine Steadman’s Lena to play against the more grunt-like characters.
The idea of a female lead came quite early. There were literally no women in the first one and I knew it would force me to write and shoot the film differently. We didn’t want to do the kind of action female lead you normally get in these movies, the Milla Jovovich type. We wanted to see if we could create someone who didn’t try to go toe-to-toe in the action scenes but had a strength of character you wanted to see keep going and going and going. And that made casting quite hard, because a lot of girls who came in instinctively played it like the “action girl.” But Catherine came in and just played the character as written. Very straight.
And she’s very slight, I wanted someone you could look at and think they might not even make it through the first 10 minutes of the movie. And Catherine just came with a determination that could carry that. She made my job very easy.
There’s a new creature once you hit the 3rd act of the film. Can you talk about the influence behind that design?
That was something different. I’ve got to admit I didn’t think too hard about it, I just kind of wrote it. And strangely the inspiration came from the Child Capturer in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, that always horrified me as a kid.