Nazi zombies are a popular antagonist in video games but have been less ubiquitous onscreen – notable appearances include Shock Waves, Dead Snow and Outpost. They also play a supporting role of sorts in Overlord, which combines a men-on-a-mission World War II adventure with meaty body horror and a whiff of Wolfenstein.

In a knockout opening sequence that unfolds like an aerial version of Saving Private Ryan‘s beach assault, a squad of American paratroopers drops into Nazi-occupied France amidst a blaze of exploding aircraft and gunfire. Their mission: to destroy a radio transmitter that sits atop a fortified church in a small village outside Normandy, as the clock ticks towards D-Day.

Offered shelter by a Frenchwoman (Mathilde Oliver), who is in thrall to a charming but deadly SS officer (Pilou Asbæk), the troopers soon discover that the church also harbours a sinister laboratory designed to forge a thousand-year Reich.

Ostensibly a traditional war movie, Overlord makes a sudden (but not unexpected) detour into Re-Animator territory with zombified body parts, syringes of fluorescent serum, and an array of gruesome prosthetic make-up effects.   

Australian director Julius Avery skilfully weaves both plot threads into a cohesive and rip-roaring genre hybrid, demonstrating a considerable flair for arresting visuals and strong characterisation.

A B-movie with A-grade production values, Overlord looks fantastic and has loads of fun with its outrageous premise, while not losing sight of the real horrors of war. Although the Nazi zombies are probably the reason you’ve bought a ticket.

In cinemas: December 6, 2018
Starring: Wyatt Russell, Jovan Adepo, Mathilde Ollivier
Directed by: Julius Avery

Read our interview with director Julius Avery