It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before, and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born.

For the curious, here are links to 20082009 (a bad year), 201020112012 (when we left the blog behind), 20132014201520162017, and 2018.

I don’t think it’s any secret around these parts that I love anything to do with killing Nazis. Well, last year, J.J. Abrams produced a film that seemed to be made just for me. Overlord (directed by Julius Avery) is the story of a team of American soldiers dropped behind enemy lines in France and tasked with taking out a Nazi radio-tower in order to make sure D-Day comes off as planned. Since we’re not dealing with alternate history here, we know that they get the job done, but what we didn’t know was what the Nazis were up to in that little French village.

They were making zombies. Spoiler alert.

Overlord had the largest budget of any film we’ve watched for this year’s Easter Zombie Movie Marathon, and it shows. Thanks to Abrams’ involvement we get Industrial Light & Magic involved, which gave us a fantastic opening sequence of planes and battleships heading for France and then coming under attack by Nazi anti-aircraft ordinance. I can’t help but think that a huge chunk of the 38 million dollar budget went toward making that opening as spectacular as possible.

And it worked. If you’re not sucked into this film during that ill-fated parachute launch into France, then you may not have a pulse.

Once we’re on the ground, though, the money shows in the quality of the actors involved. Jovan Adepo plays our lead, the pacifistic Boyce, and Wyatt Russell (from the exceptionally underappreciated Lodge 49) takes charge as the man-on-a-mission, Corporal Ford. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Iain De Caestecker is the army photographer Chase, and Umbrella Academy’s John Magaro plays the loudmouthed Tibbet. Pilou Asbæk (that fucking asshole, Euron Greyjoy in Game of Thrones) plays the slimy Nazi commander Wafner and Mathilde Ollivier is Chloe, the French woman just trying to survive in a Nazi-occupied village.

Icon Meg Foster even cameos as Chloe’s zombie-infected Aunt with the piercing blue eyes.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Overlord is very reminiscent of the videogame Castle Wolfenstein and both the 2008 horror classic Outpost and 2013’s Frankenstein’s Army. But it’s not a rip-off, despite what some reviewers might suggest. It just mines the same territory. I mean, if you’ve got Nazis doing experiments on the dead, an underground bunker is the way to go. Ultimately, all three films are hugely successful at telling their stories and I’d highly recommend a separate marathon of Nazi Zombie Films that hit all of these along with the Outpost sequels Black Sun and Rise of Spetsnaz, the Dead Snow films, Blood Creek, War of the Dead, and Shock Waves.

Hmmm. Might have add Blood Creek and Shock Waves to future marathons, since we don’t have reviews of them already.

Overlord is a solid entry in the zombie canon, with strong performances, spectacular effects and more than a few good gore gross-outs. It doesn’t try to remake the genre and instead sticks to a fairly safe plot, but the performances are strong enough to keep if from feeling generic or cliché.  While it lacks some of the imagination that Outpost and Frankenstein’s Army brought to the table, it’s still a solid film and worthy of some zombie love. It’s also one of the largest budgets for a zombie film that I’m aware of outside of the Resident Evil franchise and World War Z.

Who says the genre is played out?


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