COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 90 mins
PLOT: A group of researchers in Antarctica are abducted by a platoon of masked soldiers and dragged to a hidden continent in the center of the Earth. There, they discover that surviving Nazi soldiers are plotting an invasion of Earth to revive the Third Reich.
REVIEW: I honestly wasn't originally planning on doing a review for Nazis at the Center of the Earth, simply because I can't review every B-Movie I watch, I just watch way too many of them, and where I recently put out two reviews, one for Grimm's Snow White and one for Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver, with another one for Camel Spiders being prepped for the near-future, I was planning on just sitting back and enjoying Nazis at the Center of the Earth without having to worry about taking notes and doing up a review after. But by the time the credits started rolling I knew I just had to do a review of this one to help get the word out to fellow B-Movie lovers about just how good I found Asylum's latest offering to be.
Our main characters are all scientists at a remote facility in Antarctica, where they happen upon an entrance that leads down through the ice to another 'world' at the center of the earth, in which remnants of Nazi Germany are residing, led by the real-life Nazi war criminal made famous by his horrifying human experimentation, Dr. Josef Mengele, as they seek immortality by abducting people and using their flesh and body organs to replace their own when theirs expire.
To start, this movie already had me pretty much won over by mentioning and touching upon some of my more favorite conspiracy theories (yes, admittedly I'm a conspiracy theory nut), such as Nazis having top secret underground bases in Antarctica where they currently may still reside in secret to this day, Nazis working on UFO and futuristic technologies at said secret bases, that Hitler actually survived WWII, and that there was a secret battle between the U.S. Air Force and a UFO in the skies over Antarctica a few years back. Do I honestly believe these conspiracy theories? Well no, of course not (Though I am willing to be open to the idea of Hitler having survived WWII), but they're fun to think about and still among my favorites regardless, and it was great to see them all utilized here in one form or another. It's the attention to these little details that sometimes go a long way with me, and Asylum is normally pretty good at including those little details in their projects.
The acting from most everyone was surprisingly good. Yes, there were a few of the more minor characters who were about as good as to be expected from an Asylum movie (which is to say not very), but all the main cast, especially the lead scientist with questionable methods, as played by Starship Troopers' Jake Busey, were in top form, with their true acting chops coming out when they had to play their characters as being terrified; when these characters were screaming or being horrified, you believe them, and you feel the fear right along with them. Another shout-out has to go to actor Christopher Karl Johnson (Angels & Demons, Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes) who played the evil Dr. Josef Mengel to perfection. Every time he was on-screen, there was great tension as you just knew he was in the scene for a reason, and normally those reasons don't bode well for our captured good guys.
Which brings me to what I believe is the strongest aspects of this movie, and it's kind of a broad topic but it all interconnects. Nazis at the Center of the Earth is nothing if not atmospheric and genuinely creepy. Nazis alone is enough to make the movie a bit creepy, but this movie goes above and beyond what it has to, to paint them as a real genuine threat to the characters. Not once did I think 'well sure, they're the villains because the movie says they are, but they're so cartoony and laughable that I just don't see them as a threat'. Instead, I was on the edge of my seat whenever they were on-screen, knuckles white from clenching them in fear and ready to jump a mile high at the slightest unexpected noise in my darkened apartment. I'm not going to go into the details of individual scenes regarding them and some of the things they do, because to be spoiled on them would remove much of the tension, but what I will say is that this movie is certainly not for the feint of heart. There is plenty of blood, gore, disturbing imagery, and uncomfortable scenes that made me extremely anxious - there are quite a few scenes that even I found difficult to watch that made me squirm in my seat uncomfortably. Of course, it takes more then just horrifying subject matter to accomplish that. Sure, that's a large part of it but it could easily come across as hokey and eye-rollingly lame without excellent make-up and practical effects. From the look of the skinless and zombie-esqe Nazis to the various experimentation and operations done on the captured scientists, it all looked amazing and never once did it seem terribly fake or obvious (A first for Asylum, I believe).
But for those that are squeamish or easily creeped out, you'll be able to relax after a bit as the movie takes a surprising and sudden 180 degree turn midway through from being deadly atmospheric and disturbing to a full-on campy cheesefest filled with hilarious one-liners. How can a movie where zombie Nazis that rip people's skin off and group-rape women in a dimly-lit underground base turn into a hilarious cheesefest, you ask? Two words:
Yes, if you just saw the words 'Robo-Hitler' then you did indeed just read that correctly. In a sudden twist that I can honestly say I did not see coming, Hitler is revived as a giant CGI cyborg with a wide range of arsenal that includes a long-ass blade, machine gun arms, and green energy blasts that shoot from his chest. I am being 100% serious right now when I tell you that I shit you not on this.
And I loved it.
So so much. Only Asylum can turn such a genuinely disturbing and nightmare-inducing torture-porn movie into a laugh riot camp-ground and actually have it work. Adding to the amazingness that is Robo-Hitler is the fact that he also commands a gigantic Nazi UFO Doomsday Machine that breaks up through the ground of the Earth and rests in the skies above Antarctica, heading out to declare war on the rest of the world by pre-empting a biological attack by way of releasing flesh-eating bacteria above the major cities. This of course leads into the previously-mentioned battle between the U.S. Air Force and a UFO over Antarctica, but as to be expected, the fighter jets are no match for this Doomsday Machine and it's up to our escaped heroes to take it down from the inside. This part of the movie actually felt very similar, visually, to another Asylum movie titled Battle of Los Angeles, and upon doing some research discovered that the director of this, Joseph J. Lawson, had been the visual effects supervisor on that one, which would explain the similar visual style from the reveal of the Nazi UFO onwards.
I know this kind of movie isn't everyone's cup of tea, even among B-Movie fans, but I have to say that I personally really loved Nazis at the Center of the Earth. To me, it's near-perfect. There's really only two very minor stumbling blocks, the first of which is the fact that despite being out in the cold in the middle of Antarctica, there's no visible breath coming from any of the characters, not even crappy fake CGI breath and that kind of takes the viewer out of the movie for those scenes (though there is a scene where two of the characters end up outside in just their regular everyday clothes and they rush to grab warm jackets and gloves to put on, so props to the director for that little bit). The other minor detractor is that, putting Robo-Hitler and his UFO Doomsday Machine aside, most of the twists and character motivations in this movie are very predictable and easy to guess pretty early-on, leaving very little to be surprised by during the movie. But as I said, these are only minor issues that are easy to overlook when up against all the other excellent things in this movie.
Production value-wise, this is probably one of Asylum's best and most professional movies to date. Entertainment wise, while it may not be the best (Seriously, 2-Headed Shark Attack, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, and Mega Python vs Gatoroid has that market pretty much covered), it's still really, really good and far better then I was expecting.
Also, be sure to stay through the End Credits for a short little stinger scene at the very end.
10/10 rooms in the Psych Ward