Stig Frode Henriksen
Evy Kasseth Røsten
Ane Dahl Torp
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Dead Snow (2009)
2nd Jul 09
Eight Norwegian medical students find their fun at a remote mountain cabin interrupted by Nazi zombies keen on munching on their entrails.
The tagline for the 1978 version of Dawn of the Dead announced that when there was no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth. The same could be said for the zombie sub-genre the movie’s director Romero created with his seminal 1968 pic Night of the Living Dead. If our streets are (fortunately) not awash with the shambling decaying dead, the shelves of the local Blockbuster positively groan under the weight of so much un-dead fare. In recent years alone, we have been ‘treated’ to the ghoulish delights of Zombie Strippers, The Zombie Diaries, [REC] and its US remake Quarantine, Undead or Alive and more, with only the barest slither breaking out successfully from their crypts upon the local DVD store shelves and providing the paying punter with anything bordering on decent entertainment.
Writer/director Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow, or Dod Sno as it is known in its native Norway, is one that deserves to stand out from the rest. It’s not that it offers anything particularly ground-breaking; it’s more that it makes for a damn fun watch, something that the aforementioned Zombie Strippers or ‘nice marketing/shame about the film’ The Zombie Diaries, never were. The movie balances the comedy and horror with aplomb and whilst not in Shaun of the Dead’s league when it comes to overall entertainment in the zombie comedy/horror field, it doesn’t shy from the gore in quite the manner that Edgar Wright’s movie did. Played sort of serious but with the laughs coming from the gory situations, it manages to be both tense and funny, no mean feat to pull off.
The first half of the film is all set-up for the Nazi zombie mayhem in the second. We meet our characters, find out a little about each, such as a trainee doctor that doesn’t like the sight of blood, a predicament you just KNOW is gonna have to change, and a film geek Erlend (Jeppe Laursen) that doesn’t alienate and even manages to get laid after taking a shit!
It has been argued that the movie is so keen on paying its respect to its influences that it fails to offer nothing new - for example, Norway's own Fritt Vilt (Cold Prey) starts off with a similar premise. Maybe not, but the references are fun and in keeping with the spirit of things. Dead Snow is smart enough to not just name-check other genre movies but ensure that the references fit. For example, the film geek’s T-shirt emblazoned with Peter Jackson’s deliciously gruesome Braindead isn’t just there as a knowing wink to the audience as in ‘Hey, we like the same movies guys!’ The reference comes with the crimson splattered finale which sees all manner of implementation taken to hand to fend off the fast approaching Nazi zombie hordes. Raimi and Jackson would be proud.
Purists may grumble that the zombies manage to be able to run and indulge in fist-fights, and why the Hell not? If they are strong enough to break out of the ground, walk and attack and tear at a live and kicking human being, then why wouldn’t they have the strength to run? And saying that they are dead just doesn’t cut the mustard, Romero may have come up with the rules but let’s not be a fusspot eh? Let’s have some fun with them.
Budgeted at just under two million US dollars, the film looks good, courtesy of Aussie cinematographer Matt Weston, and the make-up on the zombies is agreeable and far better than that shown by the Nazi ghouls in John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London and MUCH better than the Nazi zombies in 1976's Shock Waves (which has nothing to do with the hair product.)
Do yourself a favour and catch it when it shows at this year’s Frightfest or if you are unlucky enough to miss out on a ticket grab yourself a copy on DVD or Blu-Ray from August 31st, settle down with a few chummies and some alcohol and enjoy!
1st Nov 04 Above all though, it is the relationship between John and Laura Baxter which is the film’s central focus throughout, and the gradual disintegration of their relationship amidst a haze of grief.