Movies to Watch With Overlord

WWII-era body horror is not a crowded subgenre. The blood gets thinner when you account for quality. But even though German Nazism has been tied to the occult since long before Indiana Jones tried to stop them from getting the Ark of the Covenant, it’s not that surprising that jackbooted sci-fi horror isn’t more popular. I mean, the point of making grisly schlock on the cheap is to keep it cheap, and war – even the fictional kind – isn’t cheap.

It’s that arena Julius Avery’s Overlord has jumped into. Once rumored to be another sneaky entry into the Cloverfield franchise (Cloverlord?), the action horror hybrid sends a handful of shaky soldiers into a fortress where Nazis are secretly doing…something…to people. Unfortunately for the paratroopers, they’ve gotta battle Hitler’s horde and the beastly things their scientists have unleashed.

So, let’s unleash six movies to double-feature with Overlord.

Revenge of the Zombies (1943)

This one’s a product completely of its time, right down to legendary comedian Mantan Moreland doing his scaredy cat routine like a live-action Shaggy Rogers.

Max (John Carradine) is a scientist who turns his dead wife into a zombie, and all of that’s well and good, but he’s also got a radio he can use to talk directly to Hitler, and that’s not so good. Presumably Hitler is pretty interested in the ability to turn people into suggestible automatons. It’s a stew of comedy, creepy old horror, and b-movie weirdness.

Jerrycan (2008)

Avery’s world class short film is a very different kind of men-on-a-mission movie featuring violence and explosives. Jerrycan won the Jury Prize at Cannes for its raw portrayal of youthful peer pressure, bullying, and a life and death choice.

Thousands of miles from WWII-era Normandy and on another tonal planet from the b-movie ravages of the team blasting away at Nazi monsters, it’s still a keen view into Avery’s skill and sensibility as well as a great look at what he did with far less money and no CGI.

Re-Animator (1985)

Who’s gonna believe a talking head?

Stuart Gordon’s take on Lovecraft’s novelette gave us greed, grotesque severed body bits, and an unhinged Jeffrey Combs slinging mad scientist egotism. It’s super easy to imagine the paratroopers from Overlord fighting their way through a Nazi castle to find Hebert West in the last room, grinning over a gooey mess that talks and strangles people. As a bonus, Barbara Crampton delivers laughs and screams like a master.

Dog Soldiers (2002)

After American Werewolf and this, I just don’t know about backpacking in Britain. Or trusting someone telling you to destroy your Land Rover.

Neil Marshall announced himself as a horror director on the rise with this aggressive creature feature that would probably be called Soldiers vs Werewolves if it were made today or Werewolves Ate My Platoon if it were made in 1941. It’s a simple premise that fares way better on characters than 99% of horror – a satisfying, grisly ride that piles more and more gas on the fire as you crash through it.

R-Point (2004)

Watch it as a growing terror where the supernatural elements creep slowly and unnervingly into the military action, and you’ll be happy.

Watch it as an allegory about being doomed to repeating history as violence visits itself upon us over and over again, and you’ll be happy.

Kong Su-chang’s Vietnam-set horror sends a group of soldiers hunting for a platoon thought to be dead. They march into the heart of the jungle to find a sacred ground where a massacre took place a hundred years ago and a lot of dangerous old “ghosts.”

Dead Snow (2009)

Nazis. They keep coming back. And you’ve gotta keep killing ’em.

This is both the most obvious choice to pair with the new assault on monster-making Nazis and the most obvious for an eventual franchise cross-over. The set up is your classic kids-go-to-a-remote-cabin-to-celebrate-Easter-and-Nazi-zombies-attack situation, and it leads to a machine gun on a snowmobile. Machine gun. On a snowmobile. It’s a lot of good, clean fun.

Overlord Review

The Mix

There are a few gems after all, but it’s still a slim genre, and it’s focused heavily on WWII and Vietnam. That makes sense. Nothing has captured our imaginations so thoroughly as Nazi crimes against humanity and the gonzo madness of the Vietnam era. Both are ripe for horror.

But we’ve been considering the sin of resurrection for a much longer time, and it’s found a foothold in movies – especially horror – where the crazed and desperate push so far beyond the natural order that the fabric of our psyches gets torn alongside whatever body parts get removed. It’s about playing God, but that’s just a poetic way of saying, “Seizing control.” Over death, over loss, over another human being. And if this new mash-up of Inglourious Basterds and Wolfenstein is a hit, we might see a new wave of movies that looks at the horror of war using supernatural darkness.

What are you watching with Overlord?

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