Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead

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Martin thought his problems with the zombified Nazis were over when he gave back the gold him and his friends had found, but after a case of mistaken limb identity leaves him with the reattached arm of zombie leader Herzog, Martin will have to come up with his own army if he hopes to combat the totalitarian undead, and he’s going to have help from a few unexpected friends from the Zombie Squad.

I hate, I mean absolutely hate, the freaking Zombie Squad. You want to know what the Zombie Squad is, a bunch of lifeist assholes who spend all their time educating the living about how to survive a disaster. Usually it’s disaster education involving the rise of the living dead, but it’s all around about how a person can better prepare themselves for any number of disasters. How are we supposed to take advantage of apocalyptic events if there are assholes out there helping people make sure they know what to do in the event of a catastrophic earthquake, meteor strike, mutant bear attack, demonic invasion, or the eventual rise of the apes as depicted in the documentary Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Zombies just happen to be their main method of education, it’s how they give people the knowledge they need to not only survive, but survive comfortably. Talk about dropping a turd in the punchbowl. All our fun, all the flesh we could want, all ruined by a bunch of jackasses in camo outfits that feel the need to educate their fellow humans. I don’t go around teaching other zombies how to survive disasters, namely because I’m lazy and I just don’t care, but the point is still valid…I think. If I ever run into those jackasses I’m going to give them a piece of my mind…in the form of a note I’ve left behind, far, far, far behind because those bastards are well trained, but it’s going to be a scathing note I’ll tell you that much.

Our sequel to Dead Snow begins right where the first one left off, with Martin sitting in his car thinking he’d left the Nazi zombies behind only to find Herzog standing at his window. Martin manages to escape, with Herzog’s severed arm sitting right next to him, but the blood loss from his own severed arm (which he lost thanks to a bite in the first flick) causes him to crash his car. He wakes in a hospital where he finds, much to his horror, that Herzog’s arm has been attached to his own and the police believe that everyone killed at the cabin he left behind were murdered by him. While he lays strapped to a bed, Herzog and his zombified Nazis march down from the mountains on their way to a museum that holds items they need, namely a map, some weapons, and a WW2 era tank. It seems that right before they were forced to flee towards the end of the war, Herzog was to lead his battalion to destroy a town harboring saboteurs, a task he’s now intent on finishing, one made all that much easier thanks to Herzog’s ability to reanimate anyone he kills, turning them into mindless, undead slaves. Martin is eventually able to make his way to the same museum where he’s forced to hide with museum employee Glen, narrowly avoiding the Nazi onslaught that sees Herzog gain a host of new followers from visiting tourists, along with the other items he came to retrieve, but it isn’t all bad news for Martin and his new friend Glen (played by Stig Frode Henriksen who played medical student Roy in the first flick). After the Nazis continue on their way, Martin discovers that Herzog’s arm has given him the same power Herzog has, namely the power to raise the dead. He’ll have to use this power to raise an army all his own, an army made up of Soviet soldiers that were killed by Herzog’s troops before being unceremoniously dumped into the frozen ground. It’s not an easy task, but lucky for Martin, he’s got some help. Not only is Glen helping out as much as he can, but Martin now as his own zombie companion (his first experiment in raising the dead) as well as three members of America’s own Zombie Squad. Together they’ll have to stop Herzog’s plans, but if Martin can’t come through with an undead Soviet army, the entire group will be joining the zombified Nazis as more fodder for Herzog’s plans.

DS28

{A zombie arm is a terrible thing to waste}

Sequels are always a crapshoot no matter the flick. Some are on par with their predecessor, a few manage to be better, but most mark the beginning of a slow a decline that, if not stopped early enough, ends with “let’s throw the motherfucker into space.” Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead manages to fall into all three categories, it stumbles into one of the major pitfalls of Dead Snow, yet manages to be better, but it does stray into some ridiculous territory that makes a person worry that it may be heading into the same trap many franchises find themselves a part of wherein they constantly try and one up themselves but only come across as silly. Let’s take a look at the three sides of Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead.

DS23

{Don’t shoot me just yet}

One of my biggest complaints about the first flick was the sheer amount of things that didn’t add up. There were so many of these moments that it was impossible to ignore. Sadly, there’s a lot of things that don’t add up in this one as well. For example, because you know I’m going to have examples:

  • The first few things that caught my attention all have to do with the missing limb of Martin and the eventual attachment of Herzog’s arm. For one thing, Martin seems to be able to drive and operate the radio of his car rather well for a man who just cut off his own arm. In fact, it appears that he’s changing the stations with his stump, something I’m sure an amputee could learn to do, not a man that had both arms only an hour before. Then there’s the fact that any even half decent doctor would be able to tell the difference between an arm that’s been dead for decades and one that was pumping blood just a short while prior, yet they attach Herzog’s arm onto Martin’s without a second thought. Lastly, reattached limbs take a long time to heal and require a sturdy device to hold the limb in place while it heals. You can’t just stich it back to your body and expect it to work right, but that’s all they do, even going so far as to strap both his arms to the bed like the major surgery that just occurred is no big deal. Sure, at a later point Herzog uses some kind of magic to attach someone else’s arm to his own stump, but Martin’s arm attachment is never presented as magic, just surgery.
  • After the zombified Nazis raid the Museum and Martin learns that he’s gained the ability to raise the dead himself, he tries out his new powers on a crippled man the Nazis killed and left behind. This is all well and good, expect the man starts walking after he’s brought back from the dead. Yes, I know I’m overthinking this, but the man should have been dragging himself along the ground, not walking. Being brought back from the dead isn’t going to heal any previous injuries.
  • When the Nazis raid the museum for weapons, a tank, and the map, they find a huge cache of live ammunition, even for the tank. I don’t think many museums keep tanks that are prepped and ready for their next war. They don’t keep it fueled, but they keep the shells primed for battle. I would think that might be just a tad dangerous and museums would realize this. I might make the same complaint with the guns they steal, but since they make all the effort to steal them but never actually use a single gun, I guess that one doesn’t matter. Though it does seem a bit strange to grab the weapons if they had no intention of using them.
  • This last one was my biggest problem, and it ruins the entire plot. The Nazi zombies plan to finish the task Hitler gave them during WW2, that task being to destroy the town Hitler believed was providing a safe haven to saboteurs. Why now? It’s presented as them only doing it now because they’re gold was disturbed. There’s two problems with this. The first, they were already up and around before their gold was even touched, so they had plenty of time to have already finished this task. The second, they were never going to complete the task in life, so why finish it in death. They were planning on stealing all the gold they could and making a run for it just before the war ended. Doing what Hitler had tasked them with was never on their list of things to do, so why now? There’s just no reason for it, and it brought the whole plot and Nazi motivations crashing down.

Look, I know I’m being picky and overthinking things, but these are all easily fixed problems. The arm, show the doctors’ surprised reaction when some kind of magical force makes the attachment perfect. The crippled guy, again, make a mention of the magic in Martin’s arm allowing him to walk. The live ammo, maybe show the zombie jury rigging something. They show them figuring out a way to fuel the tank, so why not a way to make the ammo workable? The huge, gaping plot hole…well, I don’t have an answer for that one. Something in the first movie would have had to be changed for that to be fixed. After there being so many head shaking moments in the first film, I would have expected them to pay better attention.

DS25

{At least the arm is useful}

So that was how Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead was on par with its predecessor. How about how it improved? There were three improvements over the last, and these are all that much more amazing because they were three things that were already amazing in the first flick, the characters, the carnage, and the effects. I enjoyed the characters in Dead Snow, but the cast for Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead was an eccentric bunch that endeared themselves to the audience. Martin we already know as the survivor of the first film, but he didn’t get a whole lot of screen time until the end of that movie. Here he gets fully fleshed out, and we see him go from a terrified medical student in the first movie to someone learning to enjoy his newfound power. Beyond him, there’s also the Zombie Squad. At first they are presented as bumbling, wannabe zombie slayers, but as the movie unfolds we see a trio of people who are actually quite good at their craft, killing off zombies left and right, and you can’t help but admire their dedication. There’s also poor Glen who gets pulled along for the ride after the museum raid. The man tries his damndest to help out, but simply isn’t cut out for the job. Lastly, and my favorite character, there is the first zombie raised by Martin (the one who miraculously walks after turning). Though I may have been upset by his sudden healing upon being resurrected, his character was easily the most sympathetic as the poor creature is killed over and over and over again, each time being brought back to life by Martin. They put an axe in his face, use his body to gain traction on their car, whatever they need, and each time he’s brought back to life, growing ever more mutilated as the film goes on.

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{The head of the Zombie Squad, Daniel, is far too excited about his first kill}

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{This poor bastard is a mess by the time the movie finishes}

On top of the great cast of characters, both the carnage and effects are kicked up a notch, and that’s saying something considering how great they already were in Dead Snow. There is an almost nonstop sequence of action that tops the last stand at the end of the first film. The museum raid, the destruction of a town, and the final battle between the Nazi zombies and the Soviet zombies are absolutely stunning in the sheer amount of visceral brutality that happens on screen. People are impaled, moms are blown up along with their babies, a handicapped woman is curb stomped, a man has his intestines ripped out and used to siphon gas, and that’s just naming a few. All of it looks stunning, and I was immensely impressed with what they were able to do. This movie contains one of my favorite zombie kills where Daniel, the head of the Zombie Squad, shoves a shotgun shell up a zombie’s nose and then uses a hammer to “fire” it up through the zombie’s head. Out of all the battles throughout the film though, the final showdown between the Nazis and the Soviets is my absolute favorite. It was great watching these two undead armies go toe to toe and destroy each other. It’s not just the major battles that show off the film’s love of brutality either, at every stop along Herzog’s journey, he stops to add a few more victims to his army. From a lonely family living in the middle of nowhere to an unlucky pastor at a nearby church, no one is safe. You can expect a pretty frequent, near never ending supply of blood and gore to continually flow onscreen.

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{Just a little teaser}

After watching Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead I did have one worry, the worry that they’re going to keep making these films and, in an attempt to outdo their last project, are going to descend into absurdity. You could already see a few signs of it beginning here with how ramped up everything was over its predecessor, but it worked out as a conclusion to a two part, cinematic experience. Though there were a few things that were already worrying, such as an undead sex scene, some poor attempts at gross out humor, and an ending within an ending that screamed desperation. If they were to try and stretch this out any further, I fully believe it’s just going to get ridiculous.

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{There is only so much you can stuff into an idea}

Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is a better film than its predecessor, but it still has its problems. Looking at both films as a whole though, it’s a great viewing experience that overall comes across as one complete flick with the first half being more serious and the second half having a bit more humor. Despite its flaws, it’s still one I’d recommend.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

Written By: Stig Frode Henriksen (Dead Snow, Kill Buljio: The Movie), Vegar Hoel, and Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

Starring: Vegar Hoel (Dead Snow, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters), Orjan Gamst (Dead Snow, Kill Buljo: The Movie), and Martin Starr (Adventureland, The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu)

Released By: XYZ Films, Saga Film, Entertainment One, and Splendid Film

Release Year: 2014

Release Type: Theatrical Release

MPAA Rating: Rated R

Rotten Heads: Four Heads Out of Five

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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