Following his American debut “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola decided to go back to his homeland for a sequel to his horror-comedy “Dead Snow.” That first film had plenty of nods to horror gory classics such as “The Evil Dead,” and “Brain Dead” as well as gallons of blood poured over its actors as they fought Nazi zombies in a cabin up in the snowy mountains. With a premise that daft there is no choice for the sequel but to go big or go home, and as the title indicates “Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead” gives us Soviet zombies fighting Nazi zombies. Fire up that popcorn.
If you have not seen the first film that is not a problem as the sole survivor does a good job of summing up the carnage. Martin (Vegar Hoel) describes in gory details how he and his friends were up at their cabin having fun only to be slaughtered by the zombie army of Colonel Herzog (Ørjan Gamst). Martin lost in arm in the bloodbath, but managed to escape when he realized the zombies were after a box of Nazi gold. “I know, it’s clichéd,” says Martin.
There wouldn’t be much of a film if Martin had safely walked out of that mountain, so in addition to having the zombies chase him further once they realized he had accidentally taken a gold coin with him, he ends up handcuffed in a hospital because the police of course assume he is the one who butchered his friends at the cabin. Furthermore, he is now part zombie because while fighting the zombies he severed Herzog’s arm and when the doctors found him they thought it was his arm and surgically attached it to his stump. On the downside when he cannot control it he ends up throwing people out the window, but on the plus side when he does control it he can raise his own undead army of Russian soldiers.
Meanwhile Herzog and his zombie horde decide to complete their decades-old mission of destroying a Norwegian town and when Martin learns of this he decides to stop them once and for all. Possibly in an attempt to attract American audiences who do not like to read subtitles, three American characters join him in his mission. They introduce themselves as the Zombie Squad over the phone and Martin no doubt expects your typical commandos armed to the teeth straight out of “The Expendables.” Instead he gets a trio of geeks led by Martin Starr (“Freaks and Geeks,” “Silicon Valley”) who have learned everything they know about zombies by watching all of the movies that have inspired “Dead Snow” in the first place.
This is the kind of humor that puts a big smile on your face amid all the carnage, of which there is plenty. Tourists get their guts ripped out, an old woman is decapitated and her head is thrown on her husband’s lap, and children get run over by a tank. However Wirkola manages to keep a comedic tone throughout so the audience is always in on the joke even when baby carriages are blown to pieces. Tough trick to pull, but he gets away with it over and over again.
You will laugh, you might gag, and in some scenes you might just clap as Wirkola and his production team proudly follow in the footsteps left by Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson.
Also interesting side note: the Zombie Squad is a real non-profit community service and disaster preparedness organization created by horror fan films. What a world.
(“Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead” is available on DVD and Blu-Ray and is streaming on Netflix.)