PLOT: Having survived his first brush with Nazi zombies – minus an arm – Martin (Vegar Hoel) wakes up in a hospital to discover not only does no one believe his story, but the disembodied arm of Nazi zombie Herzog has now been transplanted to his body, and it has a mind of its own. Now accused of being a mass murderer, Martin, with the help of an American Zombie Squad, tries to stop Herzog and his army of Nazis before they can accomplish their ultimate goal: world domination.
REVIEW: Having somehow missed the first DEAD SNOW, I didn’t know what to expect going in to DEAD SNOW: RED VS DEAD other than presumably there would be some Nazis zombies running around, and maybe some Russian ones too. Check and check. Now that I’ve seen the sequel I’ll definitely have to go back and watch DEAD SNOW as RED VS DEAD was so good that now I can see why director Tommy Wirkola is being tipped as such a hot up-and-comer.
I wouldn’t really classify DEAD SNOW: RED VS DEAD as horror. While it’s certainly a splatter movie, with no one being spared a messy, over-the-top death (the elderly, the clergy, pets, even babies) it’s never especially scary. It’s almost too violent to be considered anything less than satire. Clearly, Wirkola just wants to show his audience a good time, and he accomplishes that in a big way with his big-budget Norwegian sequel, which looks great (helped by the great Norwegian scenery), has some of the best zombie makeup I’ve ever seen, and is so much fun that I’ll definitely be crossing my fingers for a DEAD SNOW 3.
If – like me – you missed the original, don’t fret. The movie opens with a handy recap of the first one, with the sole survivor of the original onslaught being Vegar Hoel’s Martin. Hoel makes for a great lead. He has a lot of the same attributes that made Simon Pegg such a likable hero in SHAUN OF THE DEAD, in that he really does come off as just a random fella. In the first film, Martin accidently killed his girlfriend Hanna in the midst of the zombie carnage, and while obviously this isn’t meant to be taken seriously at all, his heartbreak over her having died makes him a likable hero. I’ve always hated how in zombie movies people just shrug off the deaths of their loved ones, and the whole Hanna subplot pays off ingeniously.
Perhaps in a bid to win over more North American viewers, much of RED VS DEAD is in English, with Martin being assisted by the so-called “zombie squad”, which is really just a trio of zombie-movie crazed nerds led by FREAKS & GEEKS’ Martin Starr. He’s assisted by two improbably gorgeous “nerds”, the STAR WARS quoting Monica (Jocelyn DeBoer) and the cutely bespectacled Blake (Ingrid Haas), and the gang winds up being an amusing addition to the franchise. They manage to be funny without ever being annoying, and a surprisingly able gang of zombie killers when it comes down to it.
The best twist in RED VS DEAD is that, now possessing Herzog’s arm, Martin is capable of raising the dead too, meaning he can call on a little help if need be. Conveniently, there just so happens to be a squad of dead Russian WW2 soldiers buried nearby. Could they be game for a little payback with the Germans? Martin also gives himself an undead sidekick (Kristoffer Joner – billed simply as “sidekick zombie”) who’s probably the cuddliest zombie in movie history.
I really had an absolute blast with DEAD SNOW: RED VS DEAD and any zombie aficionado is going to have a field day. I’d even go so far as to say it’s the best zom-com since SHAUN OF THE DEAD (which remains the champ). It’s pretty tough not to like a movie where there’s a human/zombie love scene set to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. This is definitely one to keep an eye out for.