Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: Nazis at the Center of the Earth

If you’re a horror fan worth your salt, you know all about the preeminent shlock flick factory known as The Asylum. You probably have a strong opinion of them too. This opinion usually correlates with how much of a film snob you are. Personally, I love The Asylum. They’ve been churning out mockbusters, Syfy channel staples, and direct to DVD gold for a while now, and they’ve provided me with hours upon hours of entertainment. They’ve also made me want to throw the remote through the TV a time or two, but we won’t go into that. I tell you about my love for them because I’m about to make a bold statement, Nazis at the Center of the Earth is my favorite Asylum movie of all time. That’s saying something. This is the epitome of what I hope for when I pop in one of these flicks. It’s better than Mega-Piranha. It’s better than Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill. It’s better than Death Racers, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and King of the Ants. Hell, it’s even better than Freakshow, which was my previous favorite. I haven’t seen 2 Headed Shark Attack yet, but I can’t imagine it trumping Nazis at the Center of the Earth. This movie is everything a great b-flick should be.

As if the title doesn’t spell it out for you, here’s the synopsis: Researchers in Antarctica are abducted by a team of masked storm troopers. They are dragged deep underground to a hidden continent in the center of the earth. Here Nazi survivors, their bodies a horrifying patchwork of decaying and regenerated flesh, are planning for the revival of the Third Reich.

In one of the special features director Joseph Lawson says that Nazis is actually a mixture of 4 different genres. While I would only say 3, it is true that the film can really be divided into distinct sections. This works for a couple of reasons. For one, it allows them to throw every hair brained, whacked out, crazy ass idea that they could come up with into this movie. It definitely has an “everything but the kitchen sink” vibe, but it all fits strangely together. There’s more than enough “WTF” here for multiple flicks.

I also think the genre shifts were a great idea in that they keep you from expecting what’s coming next. We start off as an action/adventure flick. There’s a killer WWII battle scene, and then we shift to Antarctica, where a group of scientists and doctors are doing research. After two of them are abducted, a rescue team discovers a huge ice cave that leads to the fabled land of Agarta. After that rollicking start, this first part slows down a bit to establish the characters.

Then, when they are all captured by the Nazis, things get horrific REAL quick, and we’re not ready for what’s coming. This middle section is dark, especially for an Asylum flick. It’s Nazis doing human experiments, so we know it’s not gonna be happy funtime, but this has some really effective, and pretty gnarly, horror sequences. We have multiple face removals, a Nazi zombie shower gang rape, brains torn from still living skulls, rotting flesh, surgery with no anesthesia (feel the knife pierce you intensely), nasty infections, etc. Hell, there’s a scene where Jake Busey’s character performs a forced abortion on his own baby momma to harvest the stem cells. That’s hardcore! The gore is quite good, and the violence has a definite grittiness to it. Hell, if there were more gratuitous nudity (we do get some boobs courtesy of Maria Pallas), I would almost expect to see Ilsa step out of the shadows. I like this darker approach Asylum. Keep it up.

Then, 56 minutes in, something happens. Something glorious happens. Something so off the wall insane happens that we rocket directly into the gonzo crazy territory that most people associate more with these guys. The beauty is that there’s no way you can see it coming. After the tone of the last 45 minutes or so, this comes out of left field and takes the film in a completely different direction. From here on out you’re just on a thrill ride hanging on for dear life. There’s a Nazi flying saucer for crying out loud, and that’s not the craziest thing here. Let me repeat that; a Nazi flying saucer is NOT the craziest thing you’ll see in this flick. That’s not a spoiler either, by the way. It’s on the back cover. Anyway, I’m not going to say what the big reveal is, but it’s one of the best “did they really just go there?” moments in a long time. Trust me.

As for the actual filmmaking, this is one of the stronger Asylum features. The production value is outstanding, and it’s hard to believe this film was made for under $200,000. Sure, some of the CGI is freaking terrible, but I expected that. It’s as much a part of the charm of these flicks as bad rubber suits are for 50’s monster flicks, and I love those too. As I mentioned earlier, the gore was excellent. Joseph Lawson shows that he’s competent in his maiden voyage in the director’s chair. With a few exceptions (yes, you, the one with the baseball) the cast did a good job. Some of the strongest performances came from Jake Busey, Dominique Swain, and Lilan Bowden. The true tour de force performance in Nazis, however, is given by Christopher K. Johnson, who portrays the infamous butcher, the angel of death himself, Dr. Josef Mengele. He plays the sadistic surgeon of demise, sadist of the noblest blood in a way that makes him unnervingly calm yet menacing and creepy as hell. He’s exactly what I would imagine a Nazi doctor would be like.

This flick is damn close to being the perfect B movie. It’s a return to the Nazisploitation genre, which I love, albeit less sleazy and more bizarre than the last time we saw it in the 70’s. It’s got gore, gratuitous nudity, gunplay, flying saucers, lost worlds, and even r… woah, I almost said it. You have no idea how hard it was to review this flick and not spoil the big surprise. I absolutely loved Nazis at the Center of the Earth. Two severed thumbs up. Nathan says check it out. Heil Asylum!


Chris Hewson said...

As long as Asylum keeps up with gilms like this and Sherlock Holmes, then they've got a viewer in me!

If you want to see absolutedly INSANE Australian 'exploitation', then Danger 5 is the way to go! It's an absurdist show about a special ops team (whose boss is a guy in a Number Six outfit and a bird's head!) and their efforts to foil Hitler's plans for world-domination, which involve nazi dinosaurs, japanese supersoldier robots and giant monsters, and diamond-studded bulletproof women! haha! It's heaps of fun and very funny!

Anonymous said...

want to see this!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this, especially the party you didnt giveaway,lol...

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