Nazi Zombies Nazi Zombies Nazi Zombies
It’s kind of amazing that there haven’t been more movies about Nazi Zombies. Combining cinema’s most popular batch of villains with today’s current go-to supernatural threat seems like a license to print money. But there really aren’t a lot of Nazi Zombie movies. The only one I could think of, off the top of my head, was a 2009 Norwegian horror/comedy flick called Dead Snow, about a group of students vacationing in the mountains who are set upon by Nazi Zombies. They mostly get eaten, because they do not have access to rifles, machine guns, and flamethrowers, unlike the heroes of Overlord, the latest entry in the burgeoning Nazi Zombie subgenre.
Look: there’s really only so much one can ask of a movie that promises Nazi Zombies. If you are of a mind to see a movie about Allied paratroopers fighting Nazi Zombies, you probably have level-set your expectations, in much the same way that you level-set your expectations walking into Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. You are not looking for Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line: Director’s Zombie Cut. You are looking for a two-hour version of the Call of Duty: Zombies video game.
OVERLORD ★★★ (3/5 stars)
Directed by: Julius Avery
Written by: Joe Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith
Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk
Running time: 108 min.
Does it deliver on that promise? Sure. The movie opens with a parachute jump into pre-dawn Normandy on D-Day, a riff on the night jump scene from HBO’s Band of Brothers. We quickly meet our heroes, pulled right out of every World War II movie ever made: Boyce, the Thoughtful One (played by Jovan Adepo, whose casting firmly establishes that this is an alternate universe World War II, one in which the U.S. Army wasn’t horribly segregated); Ford, the Quiet Badass (Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt, who of course named his son Wyatt); Tibbett, the Smartass From The Bronx; and Chase, the group’s Redshirt played by Iain De Caestecker, one of the stars of TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (If telling you that he doesn’t make it is a spoiler, I encourage you to watch any war or horror movie ever made.)
Things go south from the get-go. Our small team gets some help from a young French woman, and off they go to find their objective, which is supposed to be a Nazi radio station, but of course is much more than that. It’s actually a creepy lab, with even creepier Nazi supervisors, and experiments that are creepier still.
There’s a fairly slow burn to reach the Full Nazi Zombie Explosion. Not until the film’s third act do the dead start walking, mutating, and doing generally gross things. This is not a bad thing. The jump sequence is pretty harrowing, and director Julius Avery seems to be as fond of classic Men on A Mission war movies like The Guns of Navarone as he is of Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator. It’s all pretty silly, of course, but it’s suspenseful, the cast are all quite good, and Overlord will even appeal to those who weren’t looking to see a Nazi Zombie movie. (Assuming such people exist, because c’mon. NAZI ZOMBIES!)