The Nazi zombie onslaught continues with 2014’s Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead, a horror-comedy movie that follows up events chronicled in the first film, Dead Snow. Directed by Tommy Wirkola, the movie uses the formula that made the first movie such a success, only this time both elements are bolstered even more, resulting in a hilarious romp sure to please all fans of the undead.
The sequel picks up right where the previous movie ended, and the first few minutes of the film serve as an abstract of previous events. Lone survivor Martin (Vegar Hoel) wakes up in a hospital after returning the gold to the undead Nazi Colonel Herzog. Sadly, he forgets about a singular coin, which means that the zombie Nazis remain “alive” and unappeased. Not quite sure why the Nazis continue to attack him, Martin fights them off as best he can, but he is bitten on his arm. To save himself from the infection, he saws it off. He attempts to flee by vehicle, only to crash it.
Poor Martin wakes to a most horrible situation. The physicians, thinking that the arm found in the disabled vehicle belongs to Martin, sew it back on. Sadly, the arm belongs to Colonel Herzog, and the arm wants very much to kill and kill again. To his horror, Martin finds that the arm has a will of its own, and it begins to attack medical personnel and subsequently even police officers. Martin escapes the hospital and learns that the Nazi zombies are now headed toward a Norwegian town to complete some unfinished business. It turns out that Hitler himself had sent Herzog and his men to wipe out the town, but Herzog never completed the job.
Martin makes his way to a World War II museum, where he meets Glenn, a staff worker. Together, the men prepare for the zombie war, only to find that they are quickly outnumbered. Glenn then secures—via long-distance phone—the help of a trio of American who call themselves the “Zombie Squad.” As the battle begins, Martin begins to assume control of the zombie arm, which he discovers has the power to reanimate the dead. He hits upon a crazy plan to revive a troop of Russian Prisoners of War who were executed by the Nazis. Martin’s goal is to use this troop of Russians to battle the Nazis, who at the museum have acquired automatic rifles, grenades, and even a tank!
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead walks a tightrope between campy comedy and gore-laden zombie flick, and not once does the movie ever fail on either count. The script is tight and hilarious, giving us a cast of characters inspired by other zombie and horror flicks. Vegar Hoel as Martin takes the characteristics of Bruce Campbell’s Ash (from the Evil Dead franchise) and makes them his own. The three Americans that make up the Zombie Squad are a welcome addition, as is the character of Glenn. Director Tommy Wirkola keeps the pace tight, shifting from comedy to horror with ease, and more importantly providing both with heaping helpings of both laughs and gore.
The ability to reanimate zombies is a half-baked idea, but it works for the movie, enabling more zombies to come alive and do battle. The zombies themselves are great, as both the Nazi and Russian zombies bring with them broad characterizations of their inherent cultures. There’s even a kind-hearted zombie that is used effectively for comedy relief, as well as for one puking sequence that will make the squeamish toss their cookies, guaranteed.
The one quibble that hardcore zombie fans may have about this movie is that it sacrifices the zombie’s visceral characteristics for slapstick comedy. As a result, many of the zombies in the movie are not really too scary, despite some excellent makeup effects. However, given a chance, Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead is an ideal popcorn flick, so long as the crunching does not remind viewers too much about what zombies like to do. Note that the DVD comes with a limited-edition comic book (both electronic and hard copy), with artwork by KurtVan Der Basch. Other extras include an audio commentary, a visual effects featurette, and a theatrical trailer.