Now that Iron Sky, a Finnish science fiction comedy about Nazis from the moon, has a release date and a new trailer out, it’s got us wondering: why do Nazis remain so popular as villains, anyway? We understand that there need to be Nazis in movies about the Holocaust and World War II, but they also end up in a whole lot of B movies that have nothing to do with that time period. After the jump, we explore some of their strangest and most apparently random film appearances.
Iron Sky (2012)
Let’s start with the obvious and most recent example, which, as you might have read, has a complicated production history involving crowdsourcing and public funding. Now finally completed, Iron Sky tells the story of defeated German Nazis who flee to the dark side of the moon in 1945, construct a space fleet, and then return to Earth in 2018 to exact their revenge. Also, apparently Sarah Palin is president. Great.
Shock Waves (1977)
Nazi zombies aren’t just the coolest feature in your favorite video game, Call of Duty — they’re also a well-worn horror trope that European filmmakers have been trudging out for decades. Shock Waves is one of the earliest examples, in which a group of unlucky travelers (including one woman in a bikini, because it’s a B movie and you need one of those) come across a former SS scientist’s laboratory, where he creates a race of Nazi-zombie androids who can breathe underwater. And yes, you read that right: Nazi-zombie androids.
The Boys from Brazil (1978)
This science fiction film is about a team of former Nazis living in Brazil who decide to clone Hitler a whole bunch of times, and the aging Nazi hunter who must track all the clones down and kill them. After that description, would you expect this movie to star Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, James Mason, and Steve Guttenberg? Probably not, which makes this movie that much better.
Surf Nazis Must Die! (1987)
California’s coastline is ravaged by an enormous earthquake, and neo-Nazi surfers attempt to seize control from rival gangs (who we suspect may have been rejects from The Warriors). One of them kills an oil-well worker in the process, and his mother, a large, no-nonsense woman named Eleanor “Mama” Washington, breaks out of her retirement home to bring the pain. The movie is so bad that apparently Roger Ebert walked out after 30 minutes, which makes us only want to see it more.
Zombie Lake (1981)
Yet another underwater Nazi-zombie film, one that’s so awful the director didn’t even want to take credit and released it under a pseudonym. This time, the zombies rise up from a lake in the French countryside and attack young women, until a team of French resistance fighters fight back to keep them from taking over the town. It’s widely been called the “worst zombie movie of all time,” and judging by the green makeup on these SS officers, we can hazard a guess as to why.
They Saved Hitler’s Brain! (1969)
Adapted for television using footage from a 1963 short film titled Madmen of Mandoras, this film is about Nazi scientists who, well, save Hitler’s brain. And his entire head, complete with mustache. The actual plot of the film involves the Nazis kidnapping another scientist in the ’60s to completely resurrect Hitler or something, but whatever — his head’s in a jar! Just like Futurama! What’s not to love here?
Come on, we had to include this Tarantino flick. Just because it’s actually good doesn’t give its ridiculousness a pass. Hitler explodes in the end! Call us crazy, but we’re fairly sure that didn’t actually happen in real life.
Weirdly enough, the Third Reich was extremely interested in collecting mystic relics from Christianity, so the Indiana Jones series is almost sort of accurate despite its craziness. Most notably, Hitler was fascinated with the Spear of Destiny, which was said to have pierced the side of Jesus during the Crucifixion. We can only hope that the face-melting and rapid decay happened to some actual real-life Nazis, too.