Monday, March 7, 2011

Nazi Zombies

A couple of weeks ago, I watched Dead Snow. The IMDB entry sums it up nicely: "A ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students, as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies." Overall, it's a pretty decent film - the zombies are threatening, the acting is believable, and the characters at least try to make sensible, survival-oriented choices. Perhaps the most interesting part is that the Nazi Zombies actually have a motivation besides "eat the flesh of the living" - they want the treasure that they took from the local villagers in life. This takes them out of the modern zombie-as-mindless-infection approach, and casts them as revenants instead. They have a motivation; they want something. They have returned to (un-)life because they have Unfinished Business.

To emphasize that difference, let me observe that you could have cast the dead nazis as ghosts instead of zombies, without seriously altering the overall plot. Oh, you'd have to make changes, but they'd be pretty superficial. Most would involve the fight scenes: how the attacks happened, and how the vacationers could defend themselves.

Anyway, like I said, overall it's a pretty decent movie. Not incredibly scary, but fun if you like this sort of thing. (And it's no secret that I do.) And it reminded me of a movie that I'd rented a couple of times back when I was... I don't know. Fourteen? Fifteen? ...Somewhere in there.

That film was called Shock Waves, and the connection - of course - is Nazi Zombies. I hadn't seen it in something like two decades, but I remembered it being pretty good. (This despite the fact that I could remember almost nothing of the plot.) So I ordered myself a copy of it, and sat down to watch it.

And you know what? It holds up surprising well. Part of this is the setting - a rather large hotel that had been abandoned for quite some time when the filming was done. Part of it is the acting, which does have some bad moments, but is never bad enough to disrupt the film. And part of it is that, again, the characters make fairly sensible, survival-oriented choices based on the information and resources that they have.

The zombies here are neither infectious, nor revenants. They're the product of Nazi experiments which brought the dead back to life in order to create super-soldiers for World War II. And these aren't just any zombies - these are the underwater corps[1], designed to be able to pilot submarines indefinitely and take action underwater without need of equipment. Unlike infectious zombies, which eat people, or the zombies of Dead Snow, which actually use weapons, these zombies prefer to drown their victims. They're particularly fond of reaching unexpectedly out of the water and pulling their victims under.

The movie does have some problems - mostly little bits of broken continuity, that they just didn't have the budget to go back and fix - but overall, it's a fairly creepy little horror flick.

Unfortunately, when I ordered it, I also ordered Zombie Lake - or, more properly, Le Lac des Morts Vivants, since the whole thing has been rather badly dubbed into English. Admittedly, the dubbing doesn't really detract from the movie... but that's only because everything else about the film is so completely awful that there really isn't any way for the dubbing to make it worse.

The acting is wooden. The plot is slow to the point of catatonia. The zombies are... where to start? For one thing, you can tell they're zombies because they're covered in green body paint - except when they aren't. For example, when they're rising ominously from the lake, and the paint has mostly washed off. Or when the special effects guys painted the zombie's face green, but neglected anything under the chin. Or when a zombie raises his arm and his sleeve slides back, revealing the clear line between green paint and unpainted skin. Even by zombie standards, they're slow - so slow that it's a wonder they ever kill anything. They only manage it because A) nubile young women keep making themselves conveniently available by skinny dipping in the haunted lake, despite the huge sign that says (loosely translated), "Don't Swim Here Or Nazi Zombies Will F*cking Eat You" and B) the townspeople are too incredibly stupid to walk away when the zombies approach.

Seriously, this film made me long for the witty dialogue and professional production quality of Teenage Catgirls In Heat. (Yes, that's the film where they show the arrival of new cats by tossing stuffed cats over a rooftop to the sounds of people trying to meow convincingly. I am not making this up.) Zombie Lake is awful. It staggers the imagination. I actually feel stupider for having watched it.

Consider yourselves warned.

And if you have any other blindingly awful movies (any genre), feel free to roast them in the comments. Want to recommend a favorite zombie flick, especially one that the rest of us might have missed? Same thing. I'd be particularly interested in odd or unusual treatments of zombies - films (or books, whatever) - that consider the idea of a walking corpse without automatically falling back on the conventions of the infectious zombie genre.

And, as a bit of a palate cleanser, I'll leave you with "Zombie Me" by No More Kings. "Now I speak with all the eloquence of livestock..."

[1] Yes, that would be a corpse corps. Or possibly, since there are only a few of them left, the core corpse corps. Say that out loud five times fast, I dare you.


  1. Dude, you had me at "Nazi zombies". Really, the rest of the description was completely unnecessary.

    Thinking about it, you could sell me almost anything with Nazi zombies: video games, cars, vacations, fruit snacks. Nazi zombies!

  2. Well, they had to go with zombies, didn't they? After that deal with the vampires fell through, it was the only option left!


    Dig deeper into schlock.

  4. I'll go you one better: *Grammar* Nazi Zombies. (But they only nitpick dead languages...)

  5. Thanks, Anonymous. If there's one thing I need, it's more bad movies in my life.

    reynard61, I would pay to see that movie.


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