31 Days of Halloween — Day 20: Panzer Chocolate (2013) — by Dr. Shock

panzerchocolateEditor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.


2013’s Panzer Chocolate has been billed as the 1st interactive & transmedia horror film. A brief intro at the start of the movie tells of how you can download an App that, when synced with the film, will enhance the experience of watching it, offering extra scenes and additional background on its characters and story. The trailer for Panzer Chocolate further informs us that, in addition to the App, there’s a video game as well as a comic book that delve even deeper into this intriguing world of Nazi hideaways and stolen treasure.
But I didn’t bother with any of that crap. I wanted to watch a movie, and was sure that Panzer Chocolate the motion picture, despite all that extra mumbo-jumbo, would stand on its own. That makes sense, right?

Right?

Hoping to prove her theory that Spanish artwork stolen by the Nazis during World War II is still being held in a secret underground bunker (which the Nazis called “Valhalla”), Madrid-area college student Julie Levinson (Melina Matthews) seeks out a book written by a Professor named Von Juntz (Josep Segui), which offers insight into Nazi history and practices while also predicting that a “Fourth Reich” is on its way. With the help of volunteer librarian Joe Brown (Tony Corvilla), Julie locates the book in a secluded section of the University’s library, and even though an interview with the Professor himself proves fruitless (he talks of nothing but German chocolate, which was dispensed to the troops guarding the bunker), his book provides the clues needed to locate the elusive Valhalla.

Joined by Joe as well as her roommate Rask (Ariadna Cabrol) and boyfriend / reporter Micky Allen (Mark Schardan), Julie follows the map and, in the middle of nowhere in the Pyrenees mountain range, finds what she’s been looking for. But by doing so, the group also awakens the Guardian of Valhalla: a gargantuan humanoid in a Nazi uniform whose only purpose is to kill all trespassers. Having come so close to her ultimate goal, will Julie uncover the secrets of Valhalla, or instead fall victim to a psychotic killer?

At the outset, Panzer Chocolate is a fascinating motion picture, with a number of mysteries that, when pieced together, lead its characters directly to the hidden bunker. There’s excitement in the air as Julie and the others try to solve these various puzzles, and I was caught up in it. Later on, when the guardian shows up and starts chasing everybody, Panzer Chocolate switches things up a bit, becoming a standard slasher flick with a few creepy moments. Even these scenes have their charms (one kill is particularly gory), but, unfortunately, the big reveal at the end is a major letdown. With all its early talk of history, cartography, buried treasure and the Fourth Reich, Panzer Chocolate gave me the impression it was going to be a thinking person’s horror film. Once we learn what’s actually going on, this “intelligent, thought-provoking” picture falls apart at the seams. And the less said about the final scene, the better (to be fair, the App supposedly contains the “real” ending, and while I haven’t watched it yet, it couldn’t possibly be any worse than what is in the movie).

Both Melina Matthews and Ariadna Cabrol do a fantastic job as the leading ladies, and as I said, the film’s first two-thirds are something special. But if I ever decide to watch Panzer Chocolate again, I think I’ll buy the App, because the movie’s finale definitely needs a little help.

— Dr. Shock


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Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

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6 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 20: Panzer Chocolate (2013) — by Dr. Shock

  1. Day 20: They Look Like People (2016)

    Rating: 7.5/10 (rental)

    — — — — — Contains spoilers — — — — —

    What I liked:
    – Steady build-up of tension, atmosphere, paranoia and creepy factor.
    – Excellent character study with very likable characters.
    – The “twist” on how the mystery resolves makes for a powerful ending.
    – Intense climax.

    What I didn’t like:
    – I bit slow and empty at times.

  2. —SPOILERS BELOW—

    Day 20 – Dead & Buried (1981)

    Being that this was only my second time watching Dead & Buried, I was excited about giving it another watch. The first time around was one of the more frustrating movie experiences I remember having. This was several years ago after blind buying the Blue Underground DVD. The movie itself was great, but thanks to some unnoticed smudges on the disc, the final ten minutes took forever to watch due to constant pauses and delays as the DVD player struggled to play the film around the smudges. Yet, I was so engrossed in the movie that I didn’t want to stop the film to clean the disc. When you’re literally putting up with a great annoyance solely because what you are seeing is so entertaining, it’s a mark of something great.

    At the heart of Dead & Buried, it’s a zombie film. The characters in the film are killed in a tragic and painful manner and later return to life as one of the deadly residents of the little town of Potters Bluff. Yet, part of the fun of Dead & Buried is that it doesn’t feel as if it’s a zombie film, making it different from the norm. These zombies aren’t interested in eating brains, but appear to be completely normal although they are faithful minions of the mysterious leader. A nice positive the movie had going for itself is that they nailed the big reveals. Typically, whenever someone was brought back from the dead, the character would be involved in a scene without anyone noticing them. Then right before the scene ended, the character would be revealed behind someone else or would turn around for the big *GASP* “They’re back!” moment. Each of those moments came off so well.

    When trying to compare Dead & Buried to other movies or fiction, there were a few things that sprang to mind. For starters, the fact that the residents kept photographing the victims always made me think of 1960’s Peeping Tom. With the foggy and dark atmosphere of this tale of mystery, it felt like something that you could read in a HP Lovecraft tale. I have read others try to compare the movie to Re-Animator and while some plot points are comparable, I think it’s closer to just describe Dead & Buried as being a story that could have been written by Lovecraft. Lastly, the entire story reminded me of another movie I’ve covered this month – Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In both cases, it’s a paranoia based story involving a guy beginning to suspect that something is up with his home town. In reality, everyone is being taken over and new versions of themselves are being created. Even the spoilertastic endings have the same huge reveal.

    If there’s one clear problem in this otherwise underrated classic, it’s the victims. With a troubled production due to the backers insisting on the movie to be more horrorish and less dark comedy, I imagine some of the victims were added just for the sake of adding to the body count. You can’t care about any of the victims though. Each kill goes down a similar path – we’re introduced to the outsider as they enter Potters Buff, they’re going about some sort of business when they run into the residents, and then the residents kill them. I would have been in favor of completely dropping a couple of the victims and deaths in order to get to know one of the victims better. Have them be a character that sticks around longer than a minute or two before their death scene begins. The worst of all of these is a female hitchhiker. I have zero sympathy for a person that is so quick to jump into a truck of some creepy older guy who immediately jokes that he could be dangerous, while also noticing the fact that the truck’s back window was recently broken. Lets try to be a tad bit smarter. I also feel that had we gotten to know the victims better, the big reveal that they were now a zombie would be a bigger deal. I loved the actual reveals of former victims now being presented as a resident, but in the case of “Freddy” and the young boy, after the reveal, there isn’t anything left for them to do.

    For some odds and ends, I loved whenever Dobbs talked about his process of restoring a body for presenting it at a funeral or the scene it’s actually shown. Sure, it’s a bit morbid, but it’s all fascinating to hear all of the little tricks morticians do to fix a body up. You could draw comparisons between morticians and the talented makeup effects designers such as Dead & Buried’s own, Stan Winston. I’ve mentioned it already, but I loved the final big reveal. They set the big surprise up earlier in the film and they waited until the final scene in the movie, to the point where I was expecting them to not answer the question of it. I can’t imagine the reveal will come as a big surprise once it’s set up, but it still creates a great conclusion to Dead & Buried. While his role is rather small, there’s also some fun in seeing a young Robert Englund before his breakout a few years later in A Nightmare on Elm Street and the TV event of V.

    Overall, while Dead & Buried doesn’t receive much attention, I find it’s actually one of the better horror movies of the early 80’s. It’s a different take on the zombie sub-genre, so that even if you’re tired of zombie movies and TV shows, you can still watch this. There’s plenty of creepiness and the death scenes are typically really good. The big reveals should be what the film why the film is best known. Despite already watching the film before .

    Rating: 9/10

  3. Day 20 – Rose Red

    I love Rose Red. If there was one haunted house in all of the history of cinema that I wish I could visit, it would be Rose Red. For anyone who doesn’t know, Rose Red is a Stephen King miniseries from 2002. For me, I’ve always watched it as a really long movie. It is 255 minutes in total run time, but I’ve seen it so many times that I can just let it run in the background. Why do I love Rose Red, well it’s Stephen King’s approach to the haunted house tale that I love so much. It’s no mystery that King was hugely inspired by Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting, and King has in many ways combined the lore from the Haunting in to Rose Red. Sometimes it’s scary when it’s the house that was born bad and not necessarily just demons or ghost, though in Rose Red you get both. Anyway, there are some caveats to be said here unfortunately. If acting is an important thing for you, this Rose Red miniseries may be a total let down for you. The strange thing is that most all of the actors in this show are very talented, and I have seen them do excellent work in other places. For some reason though, whether it’s the directing or the script, there are just a ton of lines that flat line. Specifically in climactic moments, there are a few lines that are delivered so flatly that it’s laughable. Regardless, this doesn’t detract from excellent sets, terrific story telling, overall compelling and different characters, and ultimately a film I return to every year or two. Despite the weaker performances, you still get some very strong ones by Nancy Travis, Julian Sands, and Matt Ross. I highly recommend it, just be warned that it gets a bit bumpy in a few places. 8/10

  4. Day 20: Hostel (2005)
    Rating: 9/10

    Hostel is very disturbing, mostly because of the torture. I love this movie, a must see!

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