Somewhere in the skies between Greenland and Iceland flight NHL234 from Vancouver to Frankfurt was lost with all hands, but this tragedy was no normal aviation disaster, it was an attack which aging former Nazi Doctor Klaus Richter, relocated to the United States following the war as part of Operation Paperclip, has long feared might one day occur.
The Third Reich obsessed with the search for superweapons in the final days of the war which would help turn the tide in their favour, Richter was one of the instigators of Projekt Himmelsfaust, developing a drug named K7B which would revive the bodies of fallen soldiers, an indestructible and unstoppable army reborn to serve the Fatherland.
Anti-gravity, invisibility and genetic manipulation having already been mastered in other parallel projects, the Nazi Zombie army would rise on their Sky Sharks, the ultimate predator armed, armoured and ready to conquer the world. Why they were never deployed is unclear, but decades later they have taken to the clouds; Finnair NHL234 was a test run, and soon London, Barcelona and Berlin are attacked, the Fourth Reich on the rise.
The opening night film of the 2020 FrightFest weekend, mediated digitally due to lockdown restrictions, Sky Sharks has all it takes to be an outrageous crowdpleaser: Nazis, zombies, explosions, copious blood, aeroplanes torn apart on the wing, the destruction of national landmarks and endless fight scenes, an insane melange of Dead Snow and Sharknado with a visual sheen which recalls Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
Unfortunately for director Marc Fehse, who also co-wrote, produced, edited, designed costumes and contributed to the soundtrack, it is a screeching incoherent mess for which the blame can largely be laid at his feet, so intent was he on forcing in every possible tangential idea into his overinflated film, then repeating them endlessly over almost two hours.
Why have one scene with a naked woman covered in blood when you can have two or three? Why have Sky Sharks when you can have invisible Sky Sharks chased by a Megaladon? Why have a flashback to Nazi Germany to explain the origin of the Sky Sharks at all, when they have already been witnessed in action in the opening scene? Why not then have another flashback to the Vietnam War, just because you can?
Fehse’s reasoning, wearing his producer’s hat, is to maximise the profile of his film by including the greatest number of known genre faces, though it is apparent that each has been filmed in isolation, Fright Night’s Amanda Bearse, Saw’s J LaRose and Candyman’s Tony Todd in video conference, American Horror Story’s Naomi Grossman as a news reporter, a succession of cameos which distract from rather than drive the already rambling narrative.
The focus firmly on the visuals rather than the story, Fehse also serving as production designer and effects supervisor, while the prosthetics and blood are satisfyingly practical if overused, the desiccated mask Thomas Morris wears as the elder Richter aside, the digital effects are no more than adequate, the viewers disconnected and the actors never a part of a film which is at its most interesting in its more surrealist moments which are sadly too few.