Nazis and zombies are like the peanut butter and chocolate of horrordom: two great tastes that commit brain eating global atrocities together.
Up until underachieving artist and all around douchebag Adolf threw his little shitfit that sent most of the Western hemisphere into several years of internecine warfare and staggering humanitarian atrocities, the go-to no-goodnik for your low budget horror fromage fest was the castle dwelling mad scientist. But crazy Herr Doktor von Fartknocker up in the local chalet with the lightning fetish and interesting collection of sketchily sourced used body parts seemed a lot less ominous after a bunch of jackbooted, Hugo Boss-suited real life supervillains damn near took over a sizeable chunk of the globe for their own private Latveria.
And so a horror cliché was born.
In its honor, I humbly present you with a cross-media six pack of Nazi zombie goodness (for lesser values of “good”).
Dir. Ken Wiederhorn
Genetically engineered aquatic Nazi zombie monstrosities—Der Toten Korps—have been lounging off the coast of some unidentified Caribbean island, having apparently missed the telegram announcing that whole Third Reich thing has been put on temporary hiatus after Der Fuhrer exited stage left. The zombies, “neither dead or alive, but somewhere in between,” so we’re told, can apparently be killed upon contact with sunlight by removing their goggles in the worst. villain. weakness. evAR. But soggy stormtroopers take a back seat in the horror department to the thoroughly swizzled acting of John Carradine as an incompetent boat captain who can’t die soon enough and a slumming Peter Cushing as a stranded SS officer gone feral, sleepwalking through a film he’s got to know is beneath him, even by his own pre-Star Wars career revival standards.
Oasis of the Zombies
Dir. Jesus Franco
Notorious softcore purveyor and all around shlockmeister Jesus Franco uncharacteristically turned down the boobs in this 1981 tale of incompetent treasure hunters on the trail of a pile of Nazi bullion in the African desert that is still being watched over by zombified Afrikacorps troops. Mangled by multiple cuts, the plot seems to have gone the way of the porn as hunters with no discernable motives double cross one another pointlessly (and with an alarming shortage of brain-chomping action) until only a pack of hormonal teens is left to set off alone through the desert in search of fortune only to find rotting corpses and interminable swaths of stock footage barring their path.
Dir. Jean Rollin
1981 was apparently a boom year in the Nazi Zombie business as French director Jean Rollin spins this tale of Kermit-green Nazi zombies who return from the lake where they were drowned 10(?), 20(?) year ago –the timeline is absolute indecipherable – by French partisans, who now live a peaceful life despite knowing goddamn well a pack of rather peeved Nazi zombies call their lake home and are burbling on the bottom plotting vengeance. Not too many directors would have the nerve to spin the story as something of an undead love story that dares to cast the lead Nazi in a sympathetic light. Bonus points: if you were disturbed by the lack of boobage in Oasis of the Zombies, the scum covered pond is apparently irresistible to women, who feel a compulsion to go skinny dipping – including an entire women’s basketball team – in its murky, Nazi-infested waters. Double bonus: keep a sharp eye on the scene were the town mayor is interviewed by the intrepid lady reporter to watch for the director, cameraman and assorted crewmembers reflected in the giant mirror over the mayor’s shoulder for the entire scene. Quality film making, there.
Dir. Tommy Wirkola
Following a rather fallow quarter century, Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola, whose previous credit was a highly panned Kill Bill spoof, drops a splatter comedy bomb about a pack of Eurodouches (it’s so comforting that horror film cannon fodder is equally annoying worldwide) on a spring break trip to a remote ski lodge (horror film mistake #1) where they blow off local creepy guy’s warnings (horror film mistake #2) about a pack of undead Einsatzgruppen who have apparently been camping out for the last six decades or so, just chillin’ and waiting for a chance to go sick ass on an appropriately irritating overprivileged collection of character clichés from central casting. Limbs get severed, guts get chomped and jokes get sprung with greater and lesser degrees of success. Though it clearly aspires to a Shaun of the Dead-style gore/humor balance, Dead Snow falls a tad short. Despite that, it still stands as the best Nazi zombie film to date.
The Illuminatus! Trilogy
Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea
Better known as a collection of groan-worthy puns, Nixon-era paranoia, cosmic fuck scenes, libertarian diatribes that get a pass for being less didactic than Ayn Rand and drugged out conspiracies, Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s hippie culture touchstone is less recognized for its contribution to the Nazi zombie cannon. *SPOILERS* After much dubious debating of possibly specious history, the plot hinges on German rockstars the American Medical Association’s plan to “immanentize the eschaton” with an act of mass human sacrifice at a Bavarian concert on the shores of Lake Totenkopft where dead Nazi footsoldiers slumber in zombie oblivion until they can be reanimated to bring on the Fourth Reich on behalf of the all-powerful Illuminati. Counter culture in-joke, drugged out digression or occulted history of the United States, you decide. Ewige blumenkraft!
Call of Duty: World at War
Sweet Shiva of a solar powered scooter, did the world really need another first person shooter set in World War II? Developers Activision are answering in the affirmative. So take that for what you will. Greeted with generally glowing reviews upon its release in 2008, that particular incarnation of the ongoing series plunked the player down in the mudcaked boots of both an American Marine private and a Red Army soldier as they slogged their way through a succession of historically significant battles of the war. But what caused gamers and the zombie-loving public to flip their shit was a minigame that pitted up to four players in a cooperative death match against unrelenting waves of zombified Nazi monstrosities in the old zombie standby as a band of spunky survivors in a boarded up bunker. The minigame has developed such a following there are entire websites devoted to it.