Nov 11, 2014

Review: Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012)

Although you might not think so at first, I think that The Asylum has made a very educated decision with pretty much everything about Nazis at the Center of the Earth. The title is a clear indicator to anyone that it's not a movie to be taken seriously. It's not a movie that's out trying to trick you as being the recent blockbuster you'd heard about either and best of all it's got Nazis in it. Is there a more classic group of bad guys more adored than Nazis? I doubt it.

It's not exactly clear but I'd surmise that NatCotE is a combo of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and Iron Sky. Not a bad idea really because both movies are pretty much guaranteed to do well in their respective fields. You might be wondering which actor or actress The Asylum managed to cast, probably under duress for this film. That would be Jake Busey this time, famous for, well being the son of Gary Busey.


Genre: action, adventure, sci-fi
Directed by: Joseph J. Lawson
Produced by: David Michael Latt, Paul Bales, David Rimawi, etc.
Written by: Paul Bales
Music by: Chris Ridenhour
Running time: 90 minutes
Production company: The Asylum
Distributed by: The Asylum, Albatros Film, Intergroove Media, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Dominique Swain, Jake Busey, Joshua Michael Allen, Christopher Karl Johnson, James Maxwell Young, Lilan Bowden, Marlene Okner, Adam Burch, Maria Pallas, Abderrahim Halaimia, Trevor Kuhn, Andre Tenerelli


In Antarctica, two researchers (Adam Burch and Dominique Swain) are abducted by soldiers wearing gas masks and uniforms adorned with swastikas. Lucas (Joshua Michael Allen) notices their absence and convinces station chief Adrian Reistad (Jake Busey) to organize a search team. Finding tracks in the snow, this leads them to an underground ecosystem where it's miraculously warm. Their big discovery soon leads to terror as they stumble upon the base of Nazi survivors led by Dr. Josef Mengele (Christopher Karl Johnson).


Right off the bat you know that you're watching a movie that was made on a shoestring budget, but one that isn't lacking in the silliness department. The beginning of the movie actually starts in 1945 as Dr. Josef Mengele is making a nighttime escape with Americans advancing. A German soldier yells "Tanks!" and we see one lonely tank advancing as explosions are shown in the background. The Germans struggle to handle the tank and a handful of enemies on foot, but good thing the doctor is such a good shot, even when it comes to bazookas.

I have to give credit though to the very convincing performance of Christopher Karl Johnson as Dr. Josef Mengele. The guy oozes German evil doctor out of every pore. Too bad pretty much everyone else is a black hole in terms of screen presence. Jake Busey has made one or two moments where he's fun to watch but that's really about it. Worst actor award for NatCotE without a doubt goes to Abderrahim Halaimia who manages to be awful despite only having three or four lines.

Now where NatCotE shines is in the makeup and practical effects department. You'd be surprised at the level of gore in this film, but it gets the job done. I mean there's a scene where a guy gets his face ripped off and it's undeniably convincing. These good effects aren't enough to lessen the blow for how horrible the special effects are. (Spoilers) You have to have Hitler in a Nazi movie right? Robo-Hitler might sound like a really cool idea but it isn't when you're handicapped with CGI from the 1990's. (End Spoilers) The only creation that actually look OK is a Nazi UFO. Silly for sure, but surprisingly pretty cool.

Unfortunately, scriptwriter Paul Bales though it would be a good idea to include some pretty heavy drama. When you have actors and actresses that can't really do their job that well, it's destined to fail. The tone of these scenes is also a bad fit with the rest of the B-movie-ness of NatCotE so I don't know why they had to be there at all.

The action sequences mostly happen during the last portion of the movie and seem to fall into a lot of regular action movie tropes. For example, the Nazis seem unable to fire their weapons accurately and fall victim to scientists who have probably never fired a gun before in their lives. The biggest problem though is the lack of fun in these scenes. It's honestly a sin that director Joseph J. Lawson couldn't make gunfights inside a Nazi UFO more engaging.

Despite all the negativity, Nazis at the Center of the Earth is for sure one of The Asylum's better movies and dare I say a victory for the low budget studio. But I know it could've been even better which is disappointing. I mean it checks off so much B-movie Nazi-related ridiculousness that you would think it might be the best bad movie ever. It never reaches that lofty height which is too bad. Still, Christopher Karl Johnson as Dr. Mengele is load of fun to watch and is without a doubt the highlight of this movie. 



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