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‘Iron Sky’

Fan-funded movie brings Nazis back from the moon

by Giovanni Fazio

Watching “Iron Sky”, it felt like the entire point of this film was to include a scene where a slack-jawed New Yorker points to the sky, eyes wide with terror, and screams: “Space Nazis!”

Not since “Snakes on a Plane” have we seen a film so hell-bent on attaining B-movie nirvana. A heroine whose clothes get conveniently blown off in an airlock? Check. Flying saucers hovering in “V” formation over Times Square? Check. A cast you’ve never heard of except for Udo Kier? Check. About the only thing missing is Chuck Norris battling a giant rubber reptile.

The concept is such dead-on B-movie cheese, it’s hard to believe Roger Corman didn’t already make it four decades ago. An American space mission lands on the dark side of the moon only to find … Wait for it … Space Nazis! Yes, a small band of die-hard Aryan true-believers fled the Third Reich shortly before the Fuhrer’s downfall in 1945, and formed a secret lunar colony where they have been building advanced weaponry and plotting their revenge on America.

Iron Sky
Rating
Director Timo Vuorensola
Run Time 93 minutes
Language English

Captured male-model-turned-celebrity-astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby), the first African-American to set foot on the moon, is subjected to medical experiments in which the Nazis use a serum to turn his skin albino white. Washington, with the help of sympathetic Nazi propagandist and mega-babe Renate Richter (Julia Dietze), escapes back to Earth, but unrecognized and raving about “Space Nazis,” he winds up living on the street.

One day he spots Renate, though, who with evil Col. Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto) has returned to Earth on a secret mission to obtain the technology necessary to power their Gotterdammerung death star. (And I won’t ruin the joke by telling you what it is.) One thing leads to another, and the Nazis wind up encountering the U.S. President’s re-election campaign manager (Peta Sergeant), who, impressed by the Nazis’ wholesome patriotic vigor, immediately hires them as advisers.

The wicked sense of anti-American humor in Finnish director Timo Vuorensola’s film is evident in the character of the president (Stephanie Paul), a know-nothing harpy unmistakably modeled on Sarah Palin and whose campaign posters with a big “Yes!” on them are clearly redolent of Weimar-era Hitler posters. This certainly hasn’t endeared the film to Stateside viewers, though it accurately reflects the post-Bush cynicism found elsewhere. Typical is the bit where the prez hears that the Nazis have attacked and she’s ecstatic, gushing how “all presidents who start a war in their first term get re-elected!”

Vuorensola brings an appealingly retro-camp approach to the film’s look and goofy dialogue, rather like Tim Burton did with “Mars Attacks,” although it’s probably only half as funny. Vuorensola — who first came to attention with his home-brew “Star Trek” spoofs (“Star Wreck”) — loads his film with tons of quotes and references for the fanboys to lap up, and enough camp fascism to make the Red Skull blush (including a soundtrack by the original camp fascists, Slovenian industrial band Laibach); his sense of humor tends toward the hammer-to-head obvious though, which makes the film clunkier than it should have been.

As a film there’s not a hell of a lot more to say about “Iron Sky,” but as a production concept, it may well be the wave of the future. The producers turned to crowd-funding via their website Wreckamovie.com, where they raised nearly ?1 million of their ?7.5 million ($9.7 million) budget from fans of the concept, as well as soliciting suggestions and ideas from their base.

Still, a glance at the website’s list of successful productions shows a preponderance of sci-fi and horror -exactly the sort of fare that will be driven by people who spend too much time on the Internet. Also, fan-funding 13 percent of a film’s budget hardly means the old industry model has been replaced, although the dispersal of risk might be a good thing in the long run — it’s harder to mouth the freetard/Pirate Party line that “information should be free” when it was your own money going into the multimillion-euro content people want to “share.”