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Monday, November 9, 2015

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

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If I had the financing, or creativity, or technical ability, or attention span, I would make Nazi zombie movie. Nazis and zombies (as has been mentioned here before) are perfect antagonists, because of their relentlessness. Very few films have been made that have combined the two, which may not necessarily be a bad thing. At this point in time, it seems that pop culture has probably reached Peak Zombie. There are a multitude of movies that have been made, and books published, about zombies, so much so to the point that they are hard to escape. While zombies have long been my favorite monsters, frankly, I'm almost sick of them. Not only are people constantly talking about a zombie apocalypse, which at one point was an interesting exercise, but has become tiresome. 

One benefit about there being so few movies that have combined zombies and Nazis is that it allows for the freedom to break free of the typical Outbreak/Attack - Siege - Escape formula, and to play with the rules of the sub-genre, which is done in this film. Not only have few of this type of film been made, they have historically not lived up to their potential.  Norway's Dead Snow was the first to fulfill the promise of the combination. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (RVD, not to be confused with professional wrestler Rob Van Dam), this time an American-Norwegian co-production, continues the story.

Not appearing in this film, which is unfortunate, because he might need the work.

RVD picks up right where the original left off, with Martin, the sole survivor, escaping from the zombie horde, after he and some friends had stumbled upon their treasure. After crashing his car during the getaway, Martin wakes up in a hospital, to find that he is under arrest as a suspect in the death of his friends (he did accidentally kill his girlfriend). As usual, the cops, who are wonderfully inept, don't believe his zombie alibi, and treat him as a suspect. In addition to being under arrest, he finds that the doctors, thinking that they had reattached his arm (which he had sawed off in the original), actually had attached the zombie arm of Major Herzog, the leader of the Nazi zombies, which had been ripped off during his escape. 

Handsome devil, isn't he?

The new arm has super strength, but still acts as if it's controlled by its previous owner. It does help him escape from the hospital and police, but leaves a trail of death and destruction in its wake, because it does what it needs to in order to survive. 

Martin taking the new arm for a test drive

Martin finds that the Nazis, even after having recovered all of their treasure, are still on a rampage. He discovers that Herzog and his horde (which has grown inexplicably from the original) are still around because they are seeking to fulfill a mission that Hitler had given them: to exterminate a nearby village, in retaliation for some anti-Nazi sabotage committed during the war. 

Along the way, acquires allies of varying abilities, Glenn, a museum employee,  and the self-styled Zombie Squad, a trio of nerdy American siblings who've been waiting and preparing for the zombie invasion that popular media has taught them will surely come. Between discovering Herzog's mission and gaining his allies, Martin discovers that Herzog can reanimate bodies, which helps him in acquiring new minions. This new discovery helps him and his team hatch a plan for stopping the zombies: to reanimate some Soviet prisoners (who had been murdered by Herzog), in order to get them to fight the Nazis. 

A rare tender moment

After Martin reanimates the Soviets, he and his team join together in battle against the zombies, and as required, they are triumphant.

Not only is this a fantastic sequel, it is a great movie in its own right. The effects are quite effective, even to the point of Herzog and other zombies being able to demonstrate facial expressions, which allows for some comedic effect, as they respond to surrounding events. The Nazi uniforms appear to be quite authentic and accurate, and they even have a Panzer!

There is a lot of gore, much of it used for comic effect (entrails used for siphoning fuel from a bus, to fuel the Panzer). However, be warned that the zombies, in line with their evil nature, kill everyone in their path, including men, women, and children.

"This fuel won't siphon itself!" (Translated from German)

There are a lot of comic elements in RVD. The cops are completely unprepared, and the Chief is completely inept. In addition to he and his force being small town, they have watched way to many American cop shows/films, resulting in them overestimating their abilities, leading to much misadventure. 

Initially inept, Martin's team, between their introduction, and becoming heroes, provide some comedy as well. Particularly amusing is Sidekick Zombie (that's how he's listed in the credits), the first zombie reanimated by Martin, who is subjected to a lot of abuse, and follows him around like a puppy.

"Martin, Martin, how I love Martin!" (Translated from zombie)

Honestly, I only have two issues with this film. First, after all of the buildup, the titular Reds have woefully little screen time. Second, The Zombie Squad, intentionally or not, is extremely annoying.

2/3 cute (l&r), 3/3 annoying

I can't recommend this film too highly. It is a really fun movie, that moves along at a fairly rapid pace, with few slow moments. There is a lot of humor, most of which hits the mark. Also, bonus points for historical accuracy. Herzog's group is identified as being Einsatz Grupen, which were actual Nazi death squads.

I could've used more of this guy

While there are two versions of this film, one in English, and the other in Norwegian, with subtitles (a small loophole), I watched the former. 

Content Warnings: There is quite a bit of profanity and gore.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead is available on Netflix, Amazon Instant, and other streaming services. 

I give it 5 out of 5 reanimated zombies.

Note: Stick around until after the credits.

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