Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
25Apr/120

Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012)

I'm reluctant to call Nazis at the Center of the Earth horror.  But it shares a number of trends seen in horror films of the past.  A sensitivity toward current social trends (for better or worse), a sympathy toward the gender politics of the time (again), and a willingness to acknowledge the racial tensions of a given region (ad nauseum).  All of these facets were touched on very well in the entertaining, but very broad, Cabin In The Woods, now comes an Asylum production where, I must admit, a limit is reached only the analytics dare to tread.

Fret not, those of you looking for an escape to drunken revelry in the bowels of B-movie abandon.  There is much to enjoy here, and I take all of it in gladly.  The film may be an Asylum production, but it is one bolstered after the many years of putting out films like Transmorphers and A Haunting In Salem.  If the theory of a thousand monkeys chittering away at a thousand typewriters has any evidence, it is that Nazi's at the Center of the Earth (NatCotE from this point on) is self-knowing cheese and sleaze of the highest low-grade order.

We're in desperate times, those of us who cling to film as a bastion of the liberal social order.  Yet, in a recent interview, Jason Reitman (Young Adult) and Bennett Miller (Moneyball) could not stand toe-to-toe with Steve McQueen's (Shame) rage as to why minorities are not better represented in their productions - either in their representation or their construction.  NatCofE stands as a strange counterpoint to their reluctance.  It's like we're back in the 1930's, looking to the pulp and supposedly trashy arts to see how our country really feels about these issues.

If this has gotten too deep, let me tell you that zombie-Hitler rises from the grave in a steam-punk urn to wreak vengeance in his steel battle suit atop his Hitler-saucer.  At it's most basic level, this film is really in the everything and the kitchen sink B-movie way, so enjoy the superficiality if that's what gets your money spendin'.

The beginning is strange enough considering our hero is cast in Dr. Josef Mengele.  They're like a low-rent Bond production, filled with a bombastic score and a death-defying getaway as Mengele takes out numerous American soldiers on his way to freedom.  Those who are slightly ignorant in history (slightly being a bit light here) might assume, at least for the first hour or so, that this is supposed to be our hero.

The best twist is that the next forty minutes do nothing to dissuade this.  Even in the plight of facing an army of zombie Nazi's the team of Antarctic explorers, supposedly mining the bastion of medical knowledge the land cultivates, does nothing but daze of sleepily in their multiethnic slumber.  The most diverse cast is also the most stupid, completely blinded by their love of science and nature while the zombie Nazi hordes charge on toward the future.

For those of you counting your metaphors at home you'll find we're at a mixed bag at this point.  You can side with the zombie horde, who equates themselves with abortion, absolute dictatorship, and stem-cell research.  Or, if you want to be really ineffectual, you can side with the peace loving scientists who can read blood patterns in nature and bend to their enemies at the sight of any sort of rape and domination.  But if you really want to understand where the true strength lies, you twixt yourself to Aryan nerves of steel and good ol' American bravado to take down the bad guys with the strength only the U S of A can provide.

We're close to living in a socially Conservative horror land and only the extreme low-budget horror film from Asylum has had the sense to portray our society as disgusting as it is.  There's a precedent for this sort of film-making.  George Romero managed to capture the racial zeitgeist of the country when he made Night of the Living Dead.  Roger Corman is well-documented as giving a number of talented, socially-relevant filmmakers their start when he let them direct films like Boxcar Bertha (Martin Scorsese) and Piranha II (James Cameron).

This is not a straight endorsement of the film but a mere commentary on the way powerful economic forces can accidentally produce something relevant for the moment.  Director Joseph Lawson lacks the raw chops of those two, but he at least the produced the most watchable Asylum film in history.

I "Liked" NatCotE because there's a geek in me who loves seeing cyber-Hitler strafed by F-14's after being resurrected in a steam-punk vat of stem cell goo combined with a fetus sucked out by a vacuum cleaner ending in the Hitler-Saucer taking on British Christians after a team of Aryan brothers and sisters could not take out the Third Reich from within.  But  the real legs exist in looking at how it comments on our culture without preaching or making it too obvious.

Really, with a film featuring the exposed smile of Jake Busey, is there such a thing as too obvious?

In a world of Liberal Fascism, apparently not.

Nazi's at the Center of the Earth (2012)
Directed by Joseph Lawson.
Screenplay by Paul Bales.
Starring Jake Busey.

Posted by Andrew

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