I’ve had quite the tumultuous history with the first Dead Snow films. The first I heard of it was some douchebag I know describing one of the scenes that he apparently thought was hilarious. Thumbs down. Months later, I randomly threw the movie on and found it full of references to horror movies I dug, along with some over-the-top gore. Thumbs up. I heard that they were making a sequel, and I thought the gags had run their course so a sequel would be unnecessary. Thumbs down. I then heard that the sequel’s official title was “Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead” because communist Nazis would be involved. Thumbs up. I mentioned to someone my excitement over seeing the sequel at Sundance and they reminded me about all my thumbs downs. Thumbs down. Luckily, after all that flip-flopping of thumbs, I can say that Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is eve more fun than the first film and is 100% without question a thumbs up. Ha, thumbs up. As if giving a movie a thumbs up has ever meant anything!
Our film starts shortly after where the previous film ended. Martin (Vegar Hoel) was able to escape the Nazi zombies in the mountains and make it back to his car, only to find that he still has a piece of their gold in his pocket. Nazis attack and he’s able to escape the Nazi zombie leader Herzog (Ørjan Gamst), despite Herzog’s arm falling off in the process. Martin is found by the police and taken to a hospital where he is arrested under suspicions of murdering his friends. Luckily, the doctors were able to re-attach his arm that…WAIT! That’s not his arm! It’s Herzog’s! This new arm grants Martin the power to resurrect and command the dead, but not knowing much about zombies, gets in contact with an American group who refer to themselves as the “Zombie Squad”. Through the help of Martin’s new powers, some Americans who have seen one too many zombie movies, and some reanimated Communists, it’s time to take a stand against these Nazi zombies and put them back in the ground once and for all. That’s when, as the kids say, “Shit gets cray cray” in an onslaught of blood, intestines, and wacky physical comedy. Shit, this movie was so much fun.
I’m glad I went into the film with reservations because it allowed for those reservations to be blown out of my fucking head. A lot of the complaints I hear other people have with the first film is that it has TOO many references to horror films and doesn’t feel like it has its own voice. While watching Dead Snow 2, you get the feeling that writer/director Tommy Wirkola heard your complaints and made this movie for you. There are few, if any, obvious references to other films, other than addressing that the best resource for zombie mythology is horror movies. In fact, the mythology of the zombies in this film strays away from the “classic” mythos so much that even one of the zombie hunters mentions the zombies being a brand new genre. Sure, one of the zombie hunters is constantly making Star Wars references, but it’s not like they were being subtle and winking to the audience or anything, it’s a trait of the character. The first film felt like a fun little movie to pay homage to some classic horror movies, and seeing the success, it felt like Wirkola put in everything he had to make sure that this movie stood on its own and it sure a fuck does.
One of the things I liked about Dead Snow was the absurd humor of the graphic violence in it. There’s no way intestines dangle and flop around the way they did in the first film so you can’t help but laugh. There’s plenty of Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi influenced physical comedy in this film, from tanks running people over to zombies attacking a wheelchair to a “special” zombie who is essentially destroying his body by serving as a multi-tool while Martin keeps bringing him back to life. The big improvement with the humor in this film is the strength of the comedic performers. It’s not just fully of sight gags, it has plenty of hilarious dialogue delivered by funny people. The whole movie is just so goddamned fun to watch. Funny, gory, and takes a different approach to zombies than what we’ve seen in horror lately. It also has probably the best use of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, but I don’t want to spoil that for anyone. If we never see a “Dead Snow 3”, I’d be okay with that because it would be hard for Wirkola and crew to top themselves. However, if they do think they can top themselves, you can sure as shit bet that I’ll be there opening day.
Wolfman Moon Scale