Two events in recent human history have basically divested the human race of any dearly-held illusions about itself: the invention of the internet, where you can see all insane human potential spread out in a vast mad anything-goes market…and the Holocaust. The latter pogrom, the single most vile and evil event ever perversely perpetrated by the human (disg)race on itself, has produced some hollow caustic experimentation-and-extermination exploitation movies: sick, tasteless stuff like “Love Camp 7,” “SS Experiment Camp” and “Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS.” Cos after all, nothing screams entertainment like the loons who carried out the horrifying and race-despairing systematic wiping out of six million Jews and gypsies and homosexuals, eh?
|I guess this human baked alaska is a bit too much!|
You’d think that the whole Third Reichsploitation field had been done to death – and beyond. Which is where “Dead Snow,” the new (at the time of writing the review – Graham) Norwegian Nazi zombie movie, comes in. It’s a fresh and new twist on the whole Herrenrasse film genre, right? Wrong. There have been at least four other Nazi zombie movies made to date (there may be more, but I can’t be bothered searching Google for them): “Shock Waves,” “Zombie Lake,” “Oasis of the Zombies” (a Jess Franco anti-classic I actually own on a 50-public-domain-horror-film DVD and put off a third of the way through after my central nervous system started to collapse) and ‘Night of the Zombies’ (not to be confused with the excellent trash Bruno Mattei “Dawn of the Dead” rip-off movie). The question here is, does it bring anything new to this undeniably stupid subgenre, and do it well?
First off: “Dead Snow”. What does that title mean? Nothing. It’s stupid to me, and pretty much as decorticated as the rest of the part-satire part-homage film. To a bad metal soundtrack, a bunch of University of Oslo students (one of whom, a medical student, is - hyuck hyuck – allergic to the sight of blood) snow-scooter to remote area of the Norwegian mountains to party in your archetypal cut-off-from-the-world cabin, indulging in some tiresome ‘post-modern’ Kevin Williamson-alike dialogue about horror movies that have had characters who go into areas with no cell phone reception as they do. Once they arrive at the cabin, they start partying when a strange old man lurches out of the snowblown night. “This’ll be the old guy to warn them they’re doomed to a horrible death, to explain the plot,” I said to my friend Elwyn, visiting me from Scotland…and I was right. Every self-respecting cheapshit splatter movie in the 80s had them.
|you think this is bad, try sitting through Zombie Lake again!|
Transpires that the area they are in, Oksfjord, was occupied by the Nazis during WWII (Norway, like most of Europe, was genuinely occupied, and this is apparently big in the Norwegian recent history psyche) and a group of ubermensch were chased off by the townspeople into the mountains and were presumed dead. Or not. Obviously, or there would be no movie. So the old man buggers off and gets slaughtered, illogically hanging around overnight in a tent in an area he knew to be haunted, and the film really kicks off. The kids find a treasure trove of gold stolen by the Nazis, which causes them to rise from their frigid mountainside tombs to search for their ill-gotten gains, in a move straight out of John Carpenter’s “The Fog.” Pretty soon “Dead Snow” turns into pretty much every ‘keep the undead outside and us inside’ film you’ve ever seen…and soon grows pretty tiresome indeed.
|Damn it! I just can't decide what I want at Der Wienerschnitzel!|
Now. I will say this. I’m getting tired of seeing old splatter movies from the 80s or so regurgitated, simply because this limited palette of sometimes-entertaining trash was the stuff the director grew up on. The minute I saw a fat ugly guy in this effort wearing a tee-shirt of Pete Jackson’s splatter comedy classic “Braindead” (U.S. title “Dead Alive”) a few minutes into the film I knew exactly what I was going to be getting; hell, even one of the posters is a direct rip from Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie.” There’s a ridiculous scene involving that horror nerd too. He’s in an outhouse taking a dump and a drunk beautiful girl comes out and fucks him (coming while he’s going, in other words), which I couldn’t caustically help thinking was sort of a splatter freak’s wet dream come true – as well as being completely ludicrous and implausible.
I suppose if you’re going to rip off (sorry, I mean ‘pay homage to a la “Shaun of the Dead”) splatter zombie movies, you could do far worse than early Sam Raimi and Pete Jackson films, whose undead lore this film is bloody drowned in. But, to me at least, that’s the whole problem. If I want to see early Raimi and Jackson films, I’ll watch the “Evil Dead” films or “Braindead” again, cos they’re great…and not just some halfass spinterpretation of them by somebody else. I love Romero zombie movies but didn’t much rate “Shaun” for pretty much the same reason: seen it all before, and far better done. Just the filmmakers recreating their youth and putting themselves in their favorite splatter movies. Which may be fun and fine and fair enough on one level, but even though we now live in an era where popular culture has swallowed its own tail and the directors who grew up on it are just shitting out the stuff they grew up on (often because they seem to have had no real lives growing up outside of watching movies)…is trying for originality, even a vague semblance of it, a completely lost cause?
You tell me.
Looking back over this review, I see it’s been somewhat jaded and negative. “Dead Snow” is certainly not a badly made film. It’s certainly of a higher production quality than some of its source inspirational material, and some of the scenes work pretty well. There’s a really creepy scene where a knocked-out woman wakes up to find herself being disemboweled by devouring zombies as the screen wobbles and fades and reddens as she dies. Wirkola can definitely direct a film, and could be a fine director if he just got some better material to work with that isn’t an irritating slavish imitation of other people’s seminal sanguinary spillage-work. There is plenty of blood and guts and chaos here for rabid splatter fanatics, so they’ll definitely get their money’s worth. Other people I know whose opinion I normally agree with and respect watched it and liked it (eh Baron?) so that basically just proves the subjectivity and ultimately pointlessness of reviewing movies.
I think I’ve said enough.