Baddie – Pesky nazi zombies.
Lesson – Fight zombies with zombies.
I’ll admit, Dead Snow 2 was supposed to be my Christmas movie, but instead of watching it I was busy having my appendix removed, so I lived my own private zombie movie in a sanitary controlled surgical environment instead of watching it in a timely fashion.
In case you were unaware, the first Dead Snow is (Norwegian) film about nazi zombies, in this case somewhat enraged/risen because of buried nazi gold. Now, like most horror movies that find success with a ridiculous premise, it takes place in your classic horror cabin setting with a bunch of teenagers of varying personalities and proclivities, so for me the first film was ultimately very enjoyable. The beginning of the second film makes it clear that they know exactly the level of ridiculous they’re approaching but they don’t care, featuring our lead zombie continuing the chase from the first film, getting run over by a truck and then biting the innocent truck driver who attempts to give him CPR. If you were wondering about the subtitle of this movie, Red v. Dead, it’s because there’s about to be Russian zombies.
Martin, our blood-soaked hero, is promptly arrested having flipped his car and left evidence that he murdered his friends. Martin also now has the benefit of having a zombie arm grafted onto himself (accidentally) which is kind of fantastic. It’s extra hilarious because it’s the lead zombie’s arm, and said head zombie (Herzog) can’t salute Hitler without it. As an added bonus, we get a little preview of how the zombie body works, which is interesting and not often shown in zombie movies. Hint: It’s magic. The answer is magic.
Dead Snow as a franchise is pretty well received for something that could have gone horribly horribly wrong. I think at least part of that is attributed to how well the movie is made, from the makeup to the cinematography. Even in the expanse of the mountainous areas it can feel pretty claustrophobic, and there’s a moment in a church that is downright spine tingling. It’s also cheeky in a subtle way, and is able to interject just enough humor to keep things interesting. The first Dead Snow is a horror movie. The second does what many other sequels do – get smart and move away from horror and into comedy.
It would behoove me to not mention that this is a spectacularly violent movie, perhaps on par with things like Machete. It doesn’t shy away from the slaughter of children or the marginalized or the elderly. There is plenty of gore, if you were concerned about not having enough. Now, I love gore, so Nazi’s siphoning gas through an intestine was just insanely delightful. I’m fairly confident my new roommate thinks I’m a sociopath now, but it was worth it. The film also happens largely in the daylight, which adds to the humor of the movie but doesn’t add much horror. Dead Snow 2 is not at a horror movie at all, but it is decently subversive. The battle scene between the Russian and German zombies takes half an hour. Half. An. Hour.
I’ll take a moment now to mention that the prosthetics are totally fantastic. Each zombie is different, but expressive. There’s clear definition between foot soldiers and officers. There’s even a doctor. They speak grumbly German of which I can only understand part of. The Russian zombies are no exception to quality, although they don’t get quite as much screen-time. The sheer amount of gore and organs is handled really well with what looks like primarily practical effects.
Although it doesn’t have much bearing on the movie itself, I am not sure about the magic. I kind of like that it’s not really ‘zombies’ so much as ‘necromancy’ because it fits with the Hitler mythos where he’s super fascinated with the supernatural. But it’s also kinda weird. I know, my suspension of belief is kinda misplaced. They’re “Cursed”, as the Zombie Squad (Americans) explain helpfully. The Zombie Squad, by the way, is a not-so-subtle jab at those who romanticize a zombie-apocalypse, as they are technically three nerds in glasses, sweater vests and Star Wars shirts. The squad is lead by Martin Starr, of “Freaks and Geeks”, which simply made the film more delightful.
Special shout-out to Kristoffer Joner, as ‘Sidekick Zombie’ because he really did a fantastic job despite being absolutely covered in prosthetics makeup. It’s hard to convey so much comedy and emotion through that particular character, but he did an amazing job.