“What’s in a name?” posed William Shakespeare of the subtle rose. Centuries later, in a reflective mood, I ask myself that same question of The Asylum’s Nazis at the Center of the Earth. Sure, it sounds like a winner; but can this rose smell as sweetly as Shakespeare’s? Oh, how I hope not. The title promises to be a B movie crudfest of fun, but our hopes must not to too high.
Here is the deal: The Asylum is a studio/distributor that cranks out low budget horror and science fiction movies, often cheap knock offs of major studio releases and hit films such as: The Transmorphers (The Transformers), I Am Omega (I Am Legend/The Omega Man), Paranormal Entity (Paranormal Activity). They also grind out a lot of low budget films of varied quality– ranging from bad to worse. No, I’m not a demanding that they churn out Academy Award winners. I just want to be entertained and The Asylum label offers no guarantees. Nevertheless, I am game to give Nazis at the Center of the Earth a fighting chance.
Long time readers of the Monster Show (Hi, Mom!) are probably asking themselves, “Hey! Rob! What is it with you and Nazis? Do you have some sort of weird fetish?” Only if having a thing for Japanese girls dressed as nuns pouring ranch dressing on each other counts as a fetish. I’m getting help for that. I have to admit, I do enjoy a little Nazi-sploitation in my science fiction and monster movies, allow me to explain.
Imagine a cadre of motivated individuals, their twisted world view shaped by a pig’s breakfast of fear and half-baked geopolitics. They desire to return the world to a more heroic, simpler time that never was. They rally around one leader on whom all their desires and hopes, no matter how insane or disparate, are pinned. Yet, despite suffering defeat after defeat, they cling to their leader and hope to eventually bring him to power. Scary? Yeah, but enough about Ron Paul*, let’s talk about the Nazis.
Nazis are the gold standard of villainy to me. A mad scientist may be evil. He or she may do terrible things. It’s a tried and true trope (pardon the alliteration) that we all know. If you make the mad scientist a Nazi mad scientist, the story gains a new lurid dimension. That’s why it was Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS instead of Ilsa: She-Wolf of the Avon Ladies.
Nazis bring something else to the table when they are the villains. An increase in the stakes. The Boys from Brazil without Nazis would be just a story about cloning. Consider all the great movies that were made greater by having Nazis: Casablanca, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Great Dictator, Schindler’s List and Zombie Lake. For evil, the Nazis are hard to beat.
With Nazis at the Center of the Earth The Asylum goes all out to include nearly every sensationalistic, nutty hook that trips my trigger (except Bigfoot and shark monsters). Here is a list of ingredients: Nazis, Josef Mengele, flying saucers, a hollow Earth, engery weapons, walking dead (more or less) and best of all, a giant robot piloted by Hitler’s head in a jar. Yes, Hitler’s head piloting a giant robot body! Harooo! Futurama!
Story? Acting? Dialogue? And all the other that makes a great movie? We can just toss all that right out the window. This is a modern day Curse of the Swamp Creature. It’s eighty-nine minutes of cheap, lurid and sensationalist entertainment. The icing on the cake is Jake Busey and his giant teeth, which he uses to chew the scenery like a great scene chewing beaver.
Lacking a budget to make a movie with good effects, Nazis at the Center of the Earth takes the modern filmmaker’s quick and easy route and uses shoddy CGI. Oddly, in this case, it works well with the overall cruddiness of the movie.
Nazis at the Center of the Earth is the movie equivalent of drinking Thunderbird and Kool- Aid while pigging out on burritos and chili cheese fries. It’s great fun while it lasts but it’s not something you’ll want to do again in a hurry.
*Hey! Ron Paul supporters! I wasn’t comparing your politics to Nazism, just your relative sanity levels. Cheers!- Rob