Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DR. SHOCK'S MAD THEATER HALLOWEEN MOVIE OF THE DAY: DEAD SNOW. Here we have a Norwegian film from 2009 (original title: Død snø) which is not only a zombie film in the snow (a first if memory serves) but also a film with Nazi zombies! Now its unusual enough to have a zombie film come out of Norway -- according to the producer Terje Stromstad, they had to get private funding (as well as selling waffles on the street to raise money!!!) because the Norwegian government wouldn't put up the money. Stromstad has also said that zombies are nasty but the only thing nastier is Nazi zombies -- so they ran with it. Now, of course, if you're like me the thought of Nazi zombies immediately brings to mind the 70s underwater Nazi zombie flick SHOCK WAVES featuring Peter Cushing and John Carradine; however that film was (to put it gently) not a howling success. DEAD SNOW is just different enough -- and in a snowy mountain location -- to make it quite an improvement on the earlier, rather minor, genre entry. Also, director Tommy Wirkola doesn't take himself or the film too seriously. While the film can probably be safely termed a horror/comedy, there is certainly enough real zombie action to keep straight horror fans satisfied. There are also more "film references" than you can shake a chainsaw at: everything from EVIL DEAD to PLATOON is referenced . . . which is rather appropriate since one of the characters is referred to as a "movie nerd". That character Erlend is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman . . .er, I'm sorry he just reminds me of Hoffman but is actually played by Jeppe Laursen . . . asks, in an early line in the film, "How many movies start with a group of friends on a trip to a cabin..." and starts naming off FRIDAY THE 13TH and EVIL DEAD. But enough of these preliminaries. What's the movie about?
Basically a group of young friends drive up to a remote mountain cabin for a skiing holiday around Easter. The cabin belongs to Sara, who is skiing cross-country instead of riding with the others. After the friends arrive at the cabin, a strange local wanders by and relates the history of the nearby town of Øksfjord. During the Nazi occupation of World War II, a force led by Standartenführer Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) tortured and terrorized the populace for three years. As the war drew to a close, the Nazis looted the town's valuables and killed those who resisted. The populace rose up and ambushed the Nazis but Herzog and the remainder of his force was chased into the mountains where they were thought to have frozen to death. The stranger advises the young people to tread lightly since there are evil forces in the area. The next morning Sara has not reached the cabin yet. Sara's boyfriend Vegard (Jason, I'm sorry he just reminds me of Jason Patric but is actually Lasse Valdal) decides to take off in the snowmobile to look for her. While Vegard is gone, the others find a box containing the looted valuables which reawakens the Nazi zombies. Vegard finds the stranger ripped apart in his tent; he later falls through the snow into an underground cavern filled with Nazi zombies. Meanwhile, the rest are attacked in their cabin by more zombies. While some distract the zombies away from the cabin, another group sneaks away to try to get help. All of our separated cast end up battling Nazi zombies simultaneously. While the film is actually quite good up to this point, things actually get much more interesting as each group separates to battle zombies and the film gets even better.
The action sequences (and, of course, the gore) are impressive and quite entertaining. The blood and gore is done in a light way (if that's possible) if not played for outright comedy; therefore it doesn't make you sick but might elicit an appreciative laugh. While there are a great deal of filmic references (which are also greatly appreciated by yours truly) and no new ground is broken with this film, DEAD SNOW does manage to do it all with style and freshness. The acting is actually very good and the effects are mostly excellent. The directing is crisp and well-paced with the accent on slam-bang Nazi zombie action. All in all, this one's a lot of fun.
Oh and today's (this post if for October 20th) Halloween Comic Book Cover of the Day is NIGHTMARE #11 from 1954.

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