Monday, April 12, 2010

“Dead Snow”: Nazi Zombies!

Director: Tommy Wirkola 2009
The great Pauline Kael once wrote facetiously that “Night of the Living Dead” was the “best movie ever made in Pittsburgh” (she also added that it was “one of the most terrifying movies ever made”). So in the spirit of the late Kael, (who had an immense influence on the way I view movies), I hereby declare “Dead Snow” as the best Nazi zombie flick ever made in Norway.
Confession: I love zombie movies, and have ever since seeing George Romero’s original, followed by his classic follow-up, “Dawn of the Dead.” The latter movie is the one where hordes of zombies instinctively invade a local shopping mall because that’s what they did when they were alive—an obvious but hilarious comment on American consumerism. Romero has made several more zombie movies, some with great moments, but really after “Night” and ”Dawn” what’s left to say? Plenty, if you dig zombie films made by other writers and directors (like Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” and Danny Boyle’s “28 Days After”).
“Dead Snow” is an original, although it clearly pays homage to horror experts like Romero, Raimi, etc. But it’s also an original that plays with certain zombie conventions. The plot: a group of medical students and friends take off to a snowy area of Norway to stay at a remote cabin and frolic. The place is so remote that they have to trek miles by foot, and cell service doesn’t work. What they don’t know is that a battalion of Nazi zombies has been hanging around since World War ll (how they became zombies is never made clear—who cares?). The carnage gets grosser and grosser in really inventive ways (my favorite scene is a literal cliffhanger with one hero dangling by the entrails of one of the zombies). The movie’s fun at the right moments, and terrifying throughout. Beautiful cinematography, director Wirkola has a gifted eye, and the cast is just right.
If you dig zombie movies this is a crazy enterprise, perhaps, but something of a horror classic. Highly recommended for aficionados of the undead.


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