Iron Wolf (Movie Review)

As the greatest trauma the human race has seen, World War II conjures many images in the minds of people. A tragic cataclysm that exposed the true potential for evil lurking behind human eyes, World War II left the global community of nations scarred and hammered and the world has spent entire generations picking up the pieces.

Iron Wolf still.

Some films treat the resulting existential crisis as an opportunity to understand more about the human animal. Then there is Iron Wolf, available on DVD in the US market for the first time as of Tuesday, March 6, 2018, thanks to ITN Distribution/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Originally called Iron Werewolf and released in Germany back in 2013, Director David Brückner (Dead Survivors 2010, Paranormal Demons 2018) crafts a tale that has a bunch of drunk kids fight off a werewolf dressed in an SS uniform. It is no Schindler’s List, but does it work for what it is?

As Communist Russian forces push further into Nazi Germany, signaling the end is near, one group comes across a dilapidated fortress wherein Nazi scientists have been hard at work developing a biological weapon to win the war. What is it? The Iron Wolf, of course. The scientists in-charge wax diabolically about their plans, and one Nazi leader gets a little nervous about all these playing god shenanigans and tells them to pull the plug. Right after meeting the wolf, trained to kill anything that isn’t a Nazi, the Communists destroy the fortress. The wolf, noted as indestructible, is trapped.

Jump ahead 65 years and a bum stumbles first across a convenient box of old Nazi stuff, which includes a perfectly maintained overcoat with a barely-aged iron cross, a rifle and a pistol, all in great working condition. Later a group of rowdy kids arrive to scope out the place for a Punk band reunion show produced by Spike Jones (save your Beastie Boys jokes ‘cause it’s not him).

Iron Wolf still.

Spike Jones (Dominik Starck: Atomic Eden 2015, Morbach Monster Terror 2017) arrives – looking like a discount Tom Savini – and one would think this is where the fun would begin, as it’s pretty clear at this point what kind of film this is. All the kids are there and half of them just scream “cannon fodder.” The beer comes out and the blood’s gonna fly, right?

Not exactly: the setup attempts some characterization for the group. Leon (Roland Freitag: The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein 2015, Blood Feast 2016) is Spike’s ex-neo Nazi brother, whom Trigger (Hannes Sell: Violine 2012, Lissa Lilly 2013), ladies’ man and a half, never fails to remind of his past. Jersey (Carolina Rath: Tortura 2008, Where Are You Going, Habibi? 2015) is Spike’s girlfriend who has a thing for Leon. That is about it, as everyone else there is basically waiting to die. The kids yell a lot about hating fascists and Nazis; they burn Nazi regalia (more stuff in perfect condition that just happened to be laying around); and, to top it off, two characters urinate on a swastika and one of them tries to defecate in front of it. It just feels like Bruckner is trying very hard to make sure everyone gets he hates Nazis.

After the group is established, we begin to see more of our imprisoned super Nazi, supernatural bio-weapon. The film does not exactly fall apart here, but it is where Brückner, Co-Director Jens Nier (who pulls triple duty as a writer and acts as the not-so-lovable lycanthrope) and Co-Writers Nico Setner and Marco Theiss show they are probably not too sure what kind of movie they are making. All the justifiable anger about the Nazis seems to indicate a certain self-seriousness about everything; it is not to say Brückner had some big new message about Nazi evil, but that perhaps he wanted to create a “serious” Horror story.

Iron Wolf still.

However, no amount of shadow can obscure that the Iron Wolf, source of such ghastly violence and terror, looks flat-out goofy and is still wearing his SS attire from over sixty years ago. If it wasn’t clear by now, the film takes on an unintentionally comedic tone at times.

The acting, cinematography and scoring are all pretty pedestrian; it feels like a missed opportunity. A little more self-awareness and perhaps Brückner and company could have done an updated Ilsa, something humorously exploitative. Instead it feels like they saw Rob Zombie’s fake trailer for Werewolf Women of the SS from the 2007 Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse double-feature and tried to make it more realistic.

With few scares and any chance at fun squelched by the filmmakers’ reluctance to joke about the story, Iron Wolf falls flat. For these reasons CrypticRock gives Iron Wolf 1.5 out of 5 stars.

ITN Distribution/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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