Trench 11

Trench 11

An Internet friend of mine likes to say that the best war movies are essentially horror movies. They thrust you into a living nightmare, one where worms and locusts feast on the shredded cadavers of former comrades. As General Sherman said, “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it.”

It is no wonder then that horror movies will use the setting of such mass slaughters for their supernatural thrills. Recent examples include Overlord and Ghosts of War, both of which I have reviewed here. Leo Scherman’s 2017 film Trench 11 is another entry in the military horror subgenre.

Unlike the World War II setting of the two aforementioned films, Trench 11 takes place during World War I, that allegedly “great” war. It reminded me of a comment I saw on a video of Sabaton’s song Attack of the Dead Men, about the namesake event that defies belief but is true. It was about how strange the innovations of that miserable war must have seemed to the young men who were slaughtered in it; men flying, killing other men with bullets fired at speeds that render them invisible, riding in metallic machines, digging tunnels under the earth, and suffocating of toxic air. In that context, men rising from the dead does not seem that implausible.

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Ghosts of War

Ghosts of War

I finished my review of Overlord, the fantastic 2018 World War II zombie movie, with a call on Hollywood to be so bold as to green-light more movies like it. I was greatly pleased when I encountered Ghosts of War, a 2020 World War II horror film that seemed to be following in Overlord‘s footsteps. I’m an alternate historian, and so I’m a sucker for anything that mashes up history and the supernatural like this.

The film revolves around five American soldiers after D-Day who are tasked with holding a chateau in the French countryside from the Germans until a relief force comes. It’s a simple plot, at first, and a natural way of combining two wildly different genres.

The vast majority of actors here are people you’ve likely never heard of, with the exception of Theo Rossi, who you may recognize from Luke Cage on Netflix.

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Overlord

Overlord

When I first learned of Overlord, I thought that it sounded like something out of the Alien Space Bats subforum of alternatehistory.com. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen threads with the exact premise of this movie: zombies in World War II. What studio executive green-lit this?

Pay close attention to the film, though, and you will see it has antecedents. It has a whiff of Inglorious Basterds and the zany historical carnage of a Wolfenstein game. If you’ve seen many World War II movies, you will notice something very clever: that this is not a zombie movie in Occupied France, but an old-fashioned World War II movie with zombies. The characters match the archetypes of midcentury war epics: gallant American servicemen, resourceful French resistance fighters, sadistic SS officers. This is a decision that makes the whole enterprise more original than it otherwise would be.

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Penny Dreadful, Season 3

Penny Dreadful, Season 3

Premier SteamGoth/horror series Penny Dreadful is back.

Season 3 takes place a few months after the events of the season 2 finale. If you haven’t seen season 1, it’s not the biggest issue in the world (although it does help to have seen every episode), but you really should watch season 2 before starting season 3 or else you’ll have very little clue about the background leading up to events in this season.

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Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful poster

If there is such a thing as a quintessential SteamGoth series, Penny Dreadful must be it. The eight-episode first season of this British series has mad science, asylums, mysticism, disease and horrific crimes committed by the living and the supernatural.

Penny Dreadful largely takes place in Victoria’s London and revolves around a cast of characters fighting an ancient evil.

A word of warning: this series is not for the faint-hearted. It can be very gruesome and very brutal.

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Dieselpunk Games’ Obsession with Nazi Supersoldiers

During World War II, German scientists synthesized anabolic steriods and experimented on concentration camp inmates and prisoners of war in an attempt to treat chronic wasting. Experiments were allegedly conducted on German soldiers to increase their aggression and agility, however, there is no evidence whatsoever that something like an Übersoldier (a play on the Nazis’ idealized Übermensch) was ever in the making — let alone created.

Yet “supersoldiers” keep appearing in video games.

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Panzer 88: Nazi Madness in the Snow

After the “Ottensian” Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), maybe we will soon have a real “Piecraftian” dieselpunk movie as well.

Panzer 88 is an upcoming horror film that tells the story of a German Tiger tank in retreat from Russia in the winter of 1944. The five-man crew of the Panzer stumbles across a Jewish town that was previously the target of an SS purge. There they become the target of a vengeful supernatural entity “that will stop at nothing until they’re destroyed.”

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Master of the Genre in Death: H.P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born into a rather wealthy New England family and enjoyed a comparably happy childhood. Comparably, because he was a sickly child, his health remained frail all his life and because his father died when he was five years old.

Lovecraft was also a prodigious child, capable of reciting short poems by 2 and able to read by 3 years of age.

This early ability to read later helped him to study on his own when illness prevented him from attending school for any length of time. His favorite book and main inspiration during his childhood was Arabian Nights, from which he would eventually draw the inspiration for one of his most famous characters: The mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, author of the dreaded Necronomicon.

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