Directed by Joseph J. Lawson
About 56 minutes in, that’s when Nazis at the Center of the Earth goose steps over the goal line and spikes the football.
Up until that mark this had been one of the darkest and most gruesome movies The Asylum had ever produced. As far-fetched as the premise of Antarctic researchers being abducted by decaying Nazi soldiers living in a pristine valley deep within the earth, much of what occurs during the first 55 minutes teeters closely to the territory often described as torture porn. The set-up may be silly, but what happens to some of these researchers is quite grisly and disturbing: flesh peeling, gory human experimentation, Nazi zombie shower rape, and even a forced abortion. This is not your typical Asylum film…
…At least until we hit the 56-minute mark when everything goes positively nutzoid. Non-stop lunacy for the last half-hour once that fateful minute reveals the movie’s biggest and most splendidly ludicrous surprise. Telling you what happens would be spoiling the surprise. You’ll probably have already guessed what the surprise is before it happens, but exactly how it happens and where it goes from there I rather doubt you will see coming.
Say what you will about The Asylum, and lord knows I have over the years; they are really on a roll in 2012. 2-Headed Shark Attack was a hoot. Air Collision was a work of demented genius. The streak of entertaining b-movies continues with Nazis at the Center of the Earth, the motion picture you get when someone tosses Shock Waves, Zombie Holocaust, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow, and that episode of “Futurama” where Richard Nixon’s head got re-elected President into a great big movie blender and presses the “Sieg Heil” button.
The film opens in 1945 with the diabolical Nazi mad scientist Dr. Josef Mengele and a handful of Nazis making a narrow escape from Allied Forces as they board a plane with a cylindrical device I began referring to as “the keg of Fascism”. Mengele proves to be a better shot than any Nazi in any movie I have ever seen, single-handedly taking out a tank, several soldiers, and even slashing a throat with scalpel before the plane gets airborne.
Christopher Karl Johnson is the actor playing Dr. Mengele, and he does so with real menacing zeal. You might find the rest of the zombie Nazis he’ll be surrounded by later hard to take seriously; you’ll definitely take him seriously.
Flash-forward to modern times when Antarctic researchers drilling into the ice hit something metal. That something metal has a swastika on it. That something metal is about two inches beneath the snow; yet, they didn’t even realize they were standing on metal. I digress.
The two scientists are abducted by Nazi stormtroopers in gas masks and taken down below, where one will get his face ripped off by Dr. Mengele and the other, a virologist played by Dominique Swain (Face-Off), is given the option of either assisting him with his immortality experiments or herself become new flesh for their decaying exoskeletons.
Jake Busey (Starship Troopers) leads the rest of the scientific team in search of their missing colleagues. Despite the trail sending them further and further underground, no matter how far they climb or slide, nobody really ever expresses much concern over how exactly they intend to get back to the surface. That would have been my #1 concern, even more so than the whereabouts of my missing friends.
They soon find themselves in the much fabled world-within-a-world, a hollow earth paradise deep beneath the Antarctic ice. Unfortunately, this Shangri-La is home to the last remnants of the Third Reich preparing to unleash a Fourth Reich. Surrounded by zombified S.S. soldiers in uniform, some with blackened skin looking like they suffer from full body frostbite, others with bluish flesh making them look like battle-damaged Avatar versions of Lt. Commander Data, and some with hideous scars from recent flesh transplants that haven’t fully healed. Mengele gives them the same option as Swain (now dressed like a Nazi Girl Scout), except, naturally, for the one Jewish scientist who gets vaporized on the spot. They are still Nazis, after all.
Much of the movie early on is quite mean-spirited and fairly brutal; at the same time it really is hard to take any of it seriously because the premise is so out there to begin with and some of the plot twists are nothing short of hysterical. You got hollow earth, Nazi zombies, mad scientist experiments, people getting skinned alive, Nazi zombie gang bangs, flesh-eating bacteria, disintegration ray gun shootouts, a gigantic freedom-crushing Nazi UFO, and that special something I dare not spoil other than to say I began choking on a potato chip I was munching on from laughing so hard.
You also got chintzy blue screen effects work, some less than convincing CG work, and moments of incredibly clunky dialogue. The motivations of Busey’s character seemed to switch on a dime, sometimes within the same scene. It’s the sort of movie where two characters kiss during the finale, and until that moment we had no real inkling that the two were romantically involved.
But you know what? Dark and brooding one minute, laugh out loud ludicrous the next, pacing that goes from methodical to madcap in the blink of an eye, blood, boobs, and even a biomechanical beast, such are the makings of your quintessential Joe Bob Briggs worthy drive-in movie. On that dark and violent and nuttier than a fruitcake level, it certainly entertains. It doesn’t always work, but somehow it works. You know what I’m saying? If you do, this movie is for you.
3 out of 5