Fear of Undead Nazis

Posted by Aspasia Stephanou on April 13, 2009 in Blog tagged with

Fear of Undead Nazis



The proliferation of zombie films sustains the undead existence of the zombie myth. The zombie has been represented as a slave (Victor Halperin’s White Zombie), Communist (Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers), capitalist slave (Romeros’ Dawn of the Dead) or as a virus (Boyle’s 28 Days Later). Patricia McCormack has discussed cinemasochism and desire in relation to zombie films and specifically in relation to Fulci’s City of the Living Dead and The Beyond. The reassembling of the body in these films leads according to McCormack, to the Artaudian becoming of Body without Organs. For Daniel C. Dennet “some of your friends may be zombies” (Consciousness Explained, 73), since zombies seem on the outside to be like human beings. For Deleuze the zombie is a servile automaton: “the only modern myth is the myth of zombies-mortified schizos, good for work, brought back to reason” (The Guattari Reader, 89). On the other hand, Sarah Juliet Lauro and Karen Embry proclaim in their zombie manifesto,“the future possibility of the zombii, a consciousless being that is a swarm organism, and the only imaginable specter that could really be posthuman” (88).

But what happens when zombies wear uniforms? What happens when zombies are SS Übersoldiers? The unexpected representation of zombies as Nazis blurs categories. Do zombies have memories? Or humanity dresses its own fears in a doubling that only can be uncanny. Indeed, there seems to exist a subgenre of zombie films, the nazi zombie films. Blending Nazi mythology, Nietzsche’s Übermensch and the occult, these films open up a topos of problematisation concerning the subject and power.


The oldest film that relates Nazism to the undead is They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1963).Not exactly a nazi zombie film but probably the precursor of this subgenre.

 The first of the nazi zombie films is considered to be Shock Waves (1977) with Peter Cushing and John Carradine.


The two masters of cult films, Jean Rollin(director) and Jess Franco(writer) collaborated in the making of Zombie Lake/ Le Lac des morts vivant (1981).


 Jess Franco in 1981 made his own film Oasis of the Zombies.


 In 1983, Franco directed the now rare Spanish language version La Tumba de los Muertos Vivientes.

 Steve Barker directed Outpost (2008), which is in a way a reworking of Shock Waves.


Dead Snow  by Tommy Wirkola (2009).


Stone’s War is a new film coming out in this summer.



The Worst Case Scenario is another ongoing project. It looks like one of the most promising films of the nazi zombie genre, but due to production problems it might not be released any time soon.



 Video games have also incorporated the myth of undead zombies:

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001) includes the undead and Übersoldiers.


There is also a zombie level at the end of the video game Call of Duty: World at War, called Nacht der Untoten (Night of the Undead).



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