Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Honourable Mention: Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead

When I originally looked at Dead Snow I did so on the basis that, whilst it looked like a zombie film, it really wasn’t. The Z word was used once all film and these intelligent, tool using creatures appeared to be draugr. In the Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology, Bane suggests that “A draugr jealously guards its treasures and viciously attacks anyone who enters its tomb” and the Nazi restless dead came after the folks of the first film because they had taken the Nazi’s gold.

attacking Martin
This film, released in 2014 and directed by Tommy Wirkola, gives us a brief recap of the previous film and we see survivor Martin (Vegar Hoel) lose an arm – he is bitten and, not knowing that bites do not infect, he cuts it off at the elbow with a chainsaw. Martin is allowed to leave as he returns the gold but when he gets to his car there is one gold coin unreturned... The new story starts here as this causes a renewed attack. Martin manages to drive off with the Nazi commander, Herzog (Ørjan Gamst), clinging to the side of his car. A brush with a truck pulls the Nazi off the car – but he leaves an arm behind. Martin throws the coin onto the road and speeds off.

Herzog and his men
The truck stops and, whilst trying to give cpr, the trucker (Lars Sundsbø) gets his lips bitten off. Herzog retrieves the coin but the truck has the name of the town Tolvik written on it. As the film develops we discover that, before they were killed, Herzog and his troop had been given orders to kill all the residents of the town by Hitler in revenge for the sinking of a German destroyer. So the name of the game in this film is revenge, rather than greed.

the Zombie Squad
Martin crashes the car and wakes up in hospital, handcuffed as the police believe he killed his friends. The good news, he is told, is that they have reattached his arm – actually Herzog’s arm. At first this arm has a will of its own, for instance killing people, but eventually Martin gets control of it. He ends up escaping and in contact with a US anti-zombie group, the zombie squad – actually a group of well-meaning nerds who manage to get the fastest flight from the US to Norway ever (it would seem) and with them Martin looks to stop Herzog.

a new arm
The Z word is used lots in this film but, I will say again, they are not zombies (at one point the zombie squad’s Daniel (Martin Starr) suggests Martin has created “a whole new genre” of zombies). Herzog has Martin’s arm attached to his body by a Nazi doctor and it attaches through supernatural means. His men are depleted but he is able to raise further draugr. When he tries this in a German war graveyard it fails (the area is too warm and the bodies have rotted) and so he raises victims found en route – who all obey him. Martin later discovers that his new arm can both kill draugr and also raise the dead (and so he raises a troop of Soviet POWS killed by Herzog, hence the Red Vs Dead in the title). So we have necromantic, speaking, tool using, tank driving dead creatures – really not zombies.

weeping blood
But nor are they vampires, either. The reason for including this is more out of genre interest as draugr are often conflated with vampires in a mythology sense. I do wish the Norwegian characters had called them draugr and left the zombie descriptor to the American characters, as that is what they would seem to be. There is an interesting moment when Herzog enters a church and all the stained glass icons begin to weep blood – but nothing further was done with this. However there is plenty of gore and a streak of black humour a mile wide. Recommended.

The imdb page is here.

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