Well, Halloween is upon us, so I am timing this so that you will see it in time to get your scary movies ready! Although you cannot beat true winners such as The Evil Dead (1981), Dawn of the Dead, Exorcist, Cabin in the Woods, Zombieland…I thought I would bring you a handful of the WW2 themed ones out there. This is just breaking the ice, but most of the other ones I have wasted my life seeing as so unfortunate that they don’t even deserve a mention. There are WWI contenders such as Death Watch, which is ok, not great and many more that I know some people will think “Why didn’t she write about that one?!) but I had to break the list down. If you have any favourites then please email them to me for next year!
I have brought you some greats and not-so-greats that may find themselves marching into your collection and some I have found the whole movie online. So if you are sitting comfortably, I will begin…
King of the Zombies 1941
If you can’t find a DVD copy of this, you can watch the whole thing on Dan Van Dam’s Youtube page as it is in the public domain! This original WW2 comedy horror features a Capelis XC-12 plane crash in the Caribbean after it runs out of fuel. It blows off course and with minimal radio signal crashes into an island. The pilot, passenger and his signature comical black man (Mantan Moreland, popular for his ‘wide eyed stares’) with his ‘witty southern ways’ make their way to a mansion surrounded by grave stones, which happens to be owned by a mysterious doctor (I won’t spoil his role for you, you will just have to watch the film!). With a WW2 twist, humour and zombies it is quite a good watch for a film of the time.
Definite propaganda staggering around in the story line and a great cast including Dick Purcell who featured in many 30’s and 40’s films, but was most famous for portraying Captain America in the film serial of the same name in 1943! Henry Victor plays the doctor, whom you may have seen in the 1932 classic FREAKS and such movies as Confessions of a Nazi Spy and Nazty Nuisance (this is quite hilarious if you have yet to watch it).
If you are looking at Zombie films today in relation to thing one, it is bound to seem slow moving and more mystery and suspense led than horror, but is a classic non the less. If you are after an original 40’s film to watch on Halloween, then this isn’t a bad contender.
The Frozen Dead 1967
“Beware the stare of the Frozen Dead!” A British contender now about a mad scientist played by Dana Andrews (The Purple Heart, Wind and a Prayer, In Harm’s Way) who decides that collecting stamps must be really boring, so instead focuses his attention on Nazi war criminal’s heads. He then of course has to find the right bodies in which to attach these in to, so that he can re-build the Third Reich. America decided to do something very similar a year on using Hitler’s brain as the main focus (The Madmen of Mandoras, please don’t even bother with this one).
A very silly film done in a serious manner, it is hard to be scared by any The Frozen Dead, but it is still an ok watch if you are determined to watch something made before the 80’s. A collection of moving human arms strung on a wall…Nazi soldiers suspended in a tank…large syringes and a lot of ‘DUM DUM DUUUUUUUM” music. It hasn’t got any obvious comedy elements, but you will find yourself laughing at parts due to sheer ridiculousness anyway!
The Boys from Brazil 1978
Not a gory horror film, but more of a Thriller. I believe it is still worth being in this article as if you haven’t seen it already, you should give it a go. The Boys from Brazil was nominated for 3 Academy Awards and the original story was written by Ira Levin who also brought us such classics as Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives! The original book is fantastic and a remake is in the pipeline, but Id on’t know when it is coming out!
The movie tells the story of Barry Kohler, who inadvertently stumbles upon Dr Mengele, the infamous Auschwitz doctor and other Third Reich nasties in secret talks. After hearing where the next meeting is, he calls upon the help of a Nazi hunter, who doesn’t really believe anything is going on and brushes it off. Barry decides to secretly record the next meeting on a hidden microphone but is unfortunately discovered and killed whilst making the all important second phone call to the Nazi hunter Lieberman.
Lieberman decides to follow the leads he heard in the final phone call and travels to North America and Europe to investigate the deaths of some civil servants. Upon meeting the widows of these men, he realises that they all seem to have adopted sons with incredible similar features…
Obviously taking inspiration from the Nazi cloning programme of 1938 and genocide, it is a far fetched story (says the girl who loves zombie movies), but still very gripping!
Starring Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier and James Mason it already has a star studded cast. The fact that it was directed by Franklin Schaffner (Planet of the Apes) is also a bonus.
That is all I am giving you.
Death Ship 1980
If you are looking for classic 70’s/ 80’s cheese with music that reminds you of Demons/ Demons 2, then this is it. Yes it is dire and still only deserves a ‘meh’ rating, but if you find it cheap, just get it. Very funny in a ‘not-scary-but-trying-to-be-so’ way, this is what would have happened to the Gilligans if they hadn’t found their way to that island. A Nazi ghost ship picking up castaways from a cruise ship, the boat, mummified bodies and hallucinations seal the fates of these poor passengers. I have actually found the whole movie on Bruce McLaren’s Youtube account, so there you go!
Starring Academy Award winner George Kennedy (Naked Gun, Dirty Doze…and of course Dennis the Menace Strikes Again) and even Sally Ann Howes (Chitty Chitty Band Bang) it isn’t that bad really, just very of-the-period.
6.5/10 for the pure cheese factor
Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge 1991
Yes indeedy, it’s ‘String time for Hitler and Germany’ as Six Shooter, Pin Head and Blade somehow make it back to the cinema…no I don’t know why either. The film is dire, set in wartime Berlin in 1941. The Puppetmaster has already committed suicide in the previous should-not-have-ever-been-produced Puppetmaster 2. The Nazis , especially Majoy Kraus, have forced scientist Dr Hess to come up with a drug that can reanimate the corpses fallen in battle, but unfortunately the side effects of the drug seem to be mindless violence and bad acting. Meanwhile in a different part of town a puppet show is taking place (including a little puppet of Hitler that is brief but quite funny) and the couple running the show are caught feeding the puppets special magic stuff that keeps them alive by Major Kraus’ driver. He tell Kraus and the couple share the secret. Anyway, it all kicks off, Nazis burn down the theatre, kill the blokes wife and the puppets decide to take revenge. Nazis get shot by dolls and then dramatically throw themselves out of window like old spaghetti western movies. Watch it at your own peril. You won’t get that time back….especially as they brought our Puppet Master Axis Rising in 2013…
Maybe I’ve been hardened when it comes to horror flicks, or maybe I just found this too predictable. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t the worst film out there and a blessed relief after some of the tripe I had watched before it, but it still isn’t jump-out-of-your-skin scary to me. A British horror film directed by Steve Barker, it all revolves around an Ex-marine and soldiers being hired to find an old military bunker in Eastern Europe. At the same time every night, a strange bright light surrounds the area of trees around the bunker and eery silhouettes can be seen everywhere. They discover that the bunker was part of a strange Nazi experiment in reanimating dead soldiers into a super-powerful army (ooooh! Another one!). When two of the party are mysteriously murdered and some of their body parts are found joined together, the rest of the party realise that they have disturbed an occult force that isn’t quite over.
Worth a watch and if you get creeped out my movies easily then you will probably love this one.
Dead Snow 2009
Yes!!! Norway I love you. Thank you for bringing us this gem of a movie! One of my all time personal favourites, Dead Snow was a complete surprise and a definite must have for those who love comedy horrors. More Nazi zombies, a classic group of young medical students and lots of laughter as well as blood and gore. The movie starts of with a killing from the get-go and after another character falls into a mysterious ice cave and some Nazi treasure is found and pocketed by the group, it acts like a bling magnet for the undead SS. We gleefully watch each student being either killed or creative with weapons in their desperate attempts to stay alive. The zombies are great, there is the obligatory sex scene (with a twist, watch out for the outhouse scene) and a wonderful bit with some intestines, but I won’t spoil it for you, just go and watch it. You’ll find it in Asda and Amazon for super cheap.
Iron Sky 2012
Another doozy of a film and not a horror, but Sci-fi. It totally deserves to be in here because I know an awful lot of people who haven’t seen it that should. Imagine Darth Vader is actually Hitler and lives on the Moon (surprisingly like the Death Star) and he has been creating his new and improved army of Stormtroopers since fleeing Earth in 1945. Yes Hitler didn’t actually die, he lives on the Moon, you heard it here. It is based in 2018 and America is planning another Moon landing to aid the female president’s re-election (I know, it can’t get any better can it?). The astronauts discover the secret space Nazis and are killed whilst Washington is taken over by the Fourth Reich. Fantastically tongue-in-cheek, Iron Sky is one of those films I wish I had seen at the cinema. If you don’t want zombies and horror, then give this beauty a go instead! There are a few really gaffawing moments and the rest is just a lovely bit of entertainment.
Frankenstein’s Army 2013
When I ordered this a few months back, I was so positive that it was going to be a great film, I went the extra mile and ordered the steel Blu-ray book version from America. I shouldn’t have.
The story is quite good, the usual thing of creating a super army, but this one is seriously creative, using robotics to make them look almost insect like or with circular saw blades instead of hands. The film is creative, gory and the location was a real find. The film however lacks and feels low budget. The weird zombie robots are awesome, but then every so often a bit will wobble or shake, breaking the illusion that it is heavy steel and reminding you it is silicone and the like. I just left this film with a critical ‘meh…’
The one thing that makes me not want to burn the disc is that I decided to watch the making of documentary. This was really interesting and the director was the artist behind the army of monsters also. His drawing technique is wonderful and what is on the paper gets recreated as the characters perfectly. They show you how they did certain effects and although most of the actors are foreign, there are a few English ones in there to. So although I thought the film needed more money to make it good, the documentary warmed me to the makers of it.
3/10 for the film
6/10 for the documentary
So there you have it. I have been kind in my scores I think and if anyone watches movies from this list, it would be great to hear what you thought! There are even more WW2 themed horror movies being made as I type. The Bleeding has promise of being a good WW2 vampire movie, The Boys from Brazil remake should be interesting, yet another Outpost film, Fangs of War (a Canada and Germany collaboration) with more vampires, Panzer 88 which is intriguing me due to the ‘creature’ aspect and Toon Patrol, a sequel to Roger Rabbit that I had to sneak in there! Jessica Rabbit gets kidnapped by Nazis!