Nazis at the Center

From They Saved Hitler’s Brain and The Frozen Dead to The Boys from Brazil and, more recently, the gotterdammerung-awful Iron Sky, B-movies have gotten a lot of mileage out of the notion of the Fourth Reich – a return to power by fugitive Nazis who, during the decades intervening since their defeat in World War 2, are supposed to have been plotting and building their organization in some secret hiding place.  Just so that the movie industry can reassure itself that all of the possible bases of Nazi resurgence are covered, Nazis at the Center of the Earth opts for the opposite approach from its cohort Iron Sky, positing that the inevitable Nazi invasion will come not from outside the Earth’s atmosphere, but from within, under Antarctica’s frozen surface.  As in The Boys from Brazil, the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele (Christopher Karl Johnson) is the mastermind behind it all.

Nazis at the Center of the Earth, unfortunately, fares little better than Iron Sky; whereas that one groped for laughs with zany, unhumorous humor, Nazis at the Center of the Earth feels like a comedy with all of the jokes removed.  What funniness there is to be had from it derives from the premise, situations, and visuals: graphic but comfortingly absurd gore scenes and even a cyborg Adolf Hitler (James Maxwell Young), or at least the Fuhrer’s sneering head encased in a terrarium planted on top of a CGI robot body.  With the exception of Jake Busey’s singular turn as Antarctic bacteriological researcher Dr. Reistad, however, most of the actors play the material straight, with the result that the film has an uneven tone, ranging from the ridiculous to the incongruously serious.

Jake Busey, both physically and in his screen presence, is very much a chip off the famous old block, and one wishes he had more to do here than standing around looking odd, as Busey is easily Nazis at the Center of the Earth‘s greatest asset.  Basically competent technically, the film still comes up lacking in the entertainment department.  The gore effects are good, but not sufficiently plentiful to carry the day for horror fans; and whatever suspense is generated during the first half hour is dissipated once it becomes clear the story is going nowhere novel or fun.  The wax flake snow, the pedestrian score, the boring moralizing, and chintzy effects all might be forgiven if only this cheap exploitation effort had acknowledged its roots and gone for the throat with the gore or included some sexy material – or, better yet, some humor in the form of one-liners or comedic characters instead of a generalized, intermittent, and anticlimactic absurdism.

2 stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Nazis at the Center of the Earth is:

7. Conspiracy theory-friendly.  All those kooks who wrote those books about Nazi flying saucer experiments were right!

6. Euthanasist.  The unfortunate Dr. Maynard (Adam Burch) is kindly put out of his misery by one of his colleagues after being discovered with all of his skin removed.

5. Pro-life/anti-slut.  Dr. Reistad, learning from his girlfriend that she is pregnant, knocks her out and extracts the embryo for its stem cells, which are used to revive the Fuhrer’s head.

4. Zionist.  Dr. Blechman (Andre Tenerelli), captured by the Nazis and identified by Mengele as a Jew, denies this, saying, “No, I’m not religious.”  He is vaporized anyway, having failed to understand that the Nazis and probably WASPs and other gentiles generally hate Jews not because they practice Judaism, but because they are Semites and a biological abomination.  Implicit in Blechman’s punishment is a validation of militant Jewish vigilance.

3. Pro-marriage.  Dr. Morgan (Dominique Swain) accepts when Dr. Moss (Joshua Michael Allen) proposes to her.

2. Anti-Christian.  Hitler seems to be the most religious person in Nazis at the Center of the Earth.  “The Lord of the Universe has been so generous to us in recent years that we bow in gratitude before a Providence that has permitted us to be members of such a great nation,” he proclaims after coming back to life.

1. Anti-racist/anti-fascist/anti-eugenics, etc. (i.e., pro-yawn).  “Bomb every non-Aryan country!” Hitler commands, intending to wipe out the untermensch with flesh-eating bacteriological warheads.  “We are about to start a New World Order where only the strong will survive,” Dr. Mengele explains.

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