Nazis are scary. Zombies are scary. So zombie Nazis should be extra scary, not always. It seems that the evil of the Third Reich might has some lingering effects and has popped up a different times and in differing quality through out the years.
Revenge of the Zombies (1943)
Revenge of the Zombies is not only the earliest Nazi Zombie movie, actually made during World War Two, but is also high on my list of under-rated zombie films. It was, of course, made long before the gut munching gore fests of George Romero and Lucio Fulchi so gore is not part of the equation. Plot wise it is similar to White Zombie (1932), mixed with the standard spy/detective films of the time with the stalwart hero, his affable sidekick and a wise cracking black chauffeur, investigating the death of his sister, only to discover his brother in law is a Nazi scientist trying to create a zombie army in the swamps of Louisiana. THe film is highlighted by spooky locales, and shuffling zombies. The comic relief of Mantan Moreland is actually humorous and doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the proceedings. The leading man is wooden and John Carradine chews the scenery quite nicely as Dr. Max Henrich von Altermann. With a name like that who couldn’t know he was a Nazi???
Revenge of the Zombies is available in a cheap 3 film dvd called Horror Classics, from Edi Video.
Night of the Zombies (1981)
Not only my personal favorite Nazi zombie movie, but also the best zombie flick starring porn star, and good friend of Penn Jilette from Penn & Teller, Jamie GIllis. The plot revolves around a CIA agent (Gillis) in the German Alps investigating the murders of some historians researching a mysterious lost battlefield, where the undead soldiers are still fighting the battle. The cause of the zombieism is the chemical Gamma 693 that the US was transporting through the region in WW2. The whole thing has a charm and isn’t shy on the gore, which should be a surprise to anyone familiar with the work of director Joel M Reed. Reed is best known for the barf bag classic, Bloodsucking Freaks.
Be careful as Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead has been released on DVD as Night of the Zombies, and bears no relationship to this film and is nearly unwatchable.
My big question on Night of the Zombies is: Why, why, why is this not on DVD?!?! Can anyone give me an answer?
Shock Waves (1974)
Easily the most popular Nazi Zombie film of all time. Plenty has been written about this film so I’ll give it less space, but I do love the underwater zombies coming to the surface, although it was done better in The Ghost Galleon (Dir: Amando de Ossorio, 1974). The film features John Carradine (also the star of the original Nazi zombie flick, Revenge of the Zombies), Peter Cushing, and the lovely Brooke Adams. The film is an effective bit of fear cinema, light on the gore, and a lot of fun. It’s nice to see two old horror legends like Cushing and Carradine work together.
Shock Waves is available in a great DVD from Blue Underground
Zombie Lake (1980)
Possibly the worst movie ever made. Shockingly direction is credited to Jean Rollin, the French director who made some great surreal vampire films in the 60′s and 70′s.
If you think you need to see this for laughs or to say you’ve seen it, please don’t. Do you really need to have a root canal without anesthesia to know it’s painful? This is a film without plausible special effect, a story, acting, and it features lots of nudity, but it is ugly and repulsive at every turn.
Zombie Lake is available as part of Image Entertainment’s Euroshock Collection.
Oasis of the Zombies (1981)
Unwatchable dreck from Jesus Franco, about a battalion of Nazi zombies in the Sahara, or something like that. The film never goes anywhere and probably killed the Nazi zombie sub-genre. But it is still better than Zombie Lake.
Oasis of the Zombies is available as part of Image Entertainment’s Euroshock Collection.