Bridge of the Doomed certainly can’t be accused of being a slow burn. Within the first few minutes, an army base comes under attack, and a group of civilians is overrun and eaten by zombies. And there’s no hesitation to put the bloody results on the screen. This is the zombie apocalypse 80s style, except it isn’t badly dubbed into English.
After the opening attack, General Vasquez (Robert LaSardo, Section 8, Of the Devil) sends a squad led by Lt Whitmore (Dane Bingenheimer, Those Who Deserve to Die, Range 15) and ( Sgt. Hernandez (Kate Watson, Battle Star Wars, Tomb Invader) to hold a bridge or destroy it in necessary, while they wait for reinforcements to arrive. Getting those reinforcements falls to the ominously named Colonel Charon (Michael Paré, They Crawl Beneath, Nix).
Back at the bridge Privates Lin (Johnny Huang, Frank & Zed, Boogers of the Antichrist) and Sanders (King Jeff, Cut Up, Attack of the Unknown) save a woman named Susan (Sarah French, Hanukkah, Rootwood) from being raped only to end up in a standoff with a hostile group of survivors led by “Big” Jim Gill (William ‘Bill’ Connor, Demons at Dawn, Cult Cartel). So now they have two reasons to watch their backs.
But the biggest threat they’ll face isn’t from the survivors or the zombies. Something is living under the bridge, and whatever it is, it’s smart, fast, and hungry. And that’s what sets Bridge of the Doomed apart from a typical zombie gut muncher or creature feature is the presence of an intelligent antagonist for the heroes to fight. Whatever is under the bridge knows what explosive charges are and recognizes canned and boxed food.
Director Michael Su (Death Count, My Demon Within) and writer Adrian Milnes (Night of the Tommyknockers, Bloodthirst) know what the audiences want from a film like this and that’s what they deliver. Bridge of the Doomed rarely goes for more than a few minutes without something happening, and it’s frequently bloody.
The creature, once we finally get a good look at it, resembles what you might get if you crossbred The Creature From the Black Lagoon and The Monster of Piedras Blancas. Which it might be, as we never get an explanation of just what it is. I can forgive that though as it’s a practical effect rather than CGI, which is always a bonus.
The rest of the Bridge of the Doomed’s effects are a mix of well-done practical effects for the zombie makeup and the gore along with the usual obvious CGI muzzle flashes and bullet hits. The gore is plentiful with plenty of flesh ripping and disembowelments and helps make up for the blood spray. The only major effects gaffe is a really bad CGI water effect when the squad first gets to the bridge, complete with another bridge visible nearby. That should have been cut, especially as the river flowing under the bridge looks more threatening than the CGI river.
It also would have been nice if the civilians in the camp had been developed a bit more so as to make the inevitable zombie attack on it more effective. Especially since apart from French, there are several familiar faces such as Thomas Haley (Satanic Hispanics, The Pinch) among them. Of the cast’s big names Paré is unsurprisingly barely in it. LaSardo spends most of the film on base, but he does interact with much of the cast and turns up for the film’s climactic battle.
Bridge of the Doomed really gave me little to complain about. It sets out to be a fast-paced and gory creature fest and that’s what it delivers. Milnes’ script gives us plenty of confrontations and Su brings them to bloody life. And you really can’t ask for much more from a film like this.