Shitty Movie Sundays: Bunker: Project 12

Today’s shitty film is a rare one. As of this writing, it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, despite there being two well-known actors in it. One of those actors, Eric Roberts, doesn’t even have the film listed in his filmography page on Wikipedia. Not even as a red link. That’s some impressive obscurity in the age of the internet.

From 2016, Bunker: Project 12 was released straight-to-video under the title Project 12: The Bunker. In fact, should one watch this movie, that is the title that shows in the opening credits. Where the slightly adjusted new title comes from is anyone’s guess.

The film is the second feature film from Jaime Falero, directing a script by Falero and Joaquin Sanchez. Sanchez also stars as Tabeel, the leader of a small band of mercenaries that was hired by successful arms dealer Henderson (Roberts), to find and apprehend Brian Balanowsky (James Cosmo). Tabeel’s group include Irina (Natasha Alam), Bruno (Timothy Gibbs), and Alan (Tony Corvillo).

Henderson wants to get his hands on Balanowsky because he is the last surviving scientist from a secret Soviet military project. Somewhere in the former Soviet Union, the plug was pulled on the project back in the 1980s. It was considered such a sensitive project that the scientists in charge were all hunted down and assassinated. Balanowski managed to escape and has been in hiding ever since. That is, until Tabeel’s group find him.

The mercenaries kidnap Balanowski and force him to take them to the abandoned bunker where the experiments were carried out. It’s at this point that the film’s plot comes to resemble an isolated location sci-fi cheapie, like Alien Warfare. What separates this film Bunker: Project 12from that dog are higher production values, and a much more capable cast.

Not that much higher, though. This flick had a budget estimated at only €1.5 million. That’s peanuts. But, HD cameras are cheap these days, and Juanmi Márquez was a competent cinematographer. It makes all the difference.

It doesn’t take long after arriving at the bunker for things to jump off. The site was making genetically enhanced super-soldiers. Immune to bullets and incapable of independent thought, these robot-like soldiers were intended to be the guarantors of Soviet rule. Why the experiments ended isn’t revealed, but it wasn’t because they were a failure. The communist automatons that terrify the cast seem to be working as intended. They see intruders, whom they refer to as ‘capitalists,’ and out come the flame throwers. It’s exactly the type of measured response one looks for in a shitty movie.

This film comes very close to being a horror film, but I just can’t classify it as such. The action and sci-fi elements far outweigh the horror elements. If this is a horror flick, then so is The Terminator. There is even some doubt about its shittiness, as well. That’s down to the competence of most of the cast, and the aforementioned photography. This isn’t some cheap money grab. Falero and company seemed to take this project seriously. There is no lightheartedness, camp, or laziness to be found. More than any other reason, this is a shitty movie because it’s an ersatz version of better movies, and also because it’s nearly identical to so many other shitty movies.

It has some slow spots, and a whole lot of familiar tropes. The CGI is awful, but also sparse. The cast was either good or awful, creating a vast gulf between the quality of performances. Gibbs was not great, but his character was disturbing. He was wound very tight, and oozed menace. Cosmo and Sanchez were both professional.

A bigger budget might have improved things, but it’s impossible to know. Falero had issues with pace that wouldn’t be addressed by having more cash. And no amount of money could improve a mediocre and well-worn plot. Bunker: Project 12 has some life to it here and there, but it’s a mostly forgettable film. It takes over the #146 spot in the Index from the execrable remake of The Fog. I watched this shitty movie so you don’t have to.

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