For me, truly great zombie films share many different attributes: a good story, believable make-up and effects, a healthy dose of gore/head-shots, likable and detestable characters both, humor (no matter how light or dark), and last but most importantly, unique ways of offing the living dead. Unfortunately, truly great zombie films are usually few and far between. There are many out there that contain most of the above qualities, but are usually lacking (severely, in most cases) in one or two.
I’m happy to report Dead Snow IS one of those truly great zombie movies and does not lack in any area.
Dead Snow is Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola’s foray into the realm of walking corpses. Released on DVD late last year, the film was originally shown at the Norway’s Os International Film Festival in 2008. From what I understand, the film was shot on a relatively low budget, but Wirkola managed to do amazing things with the money he did have.
The plot for Dead Snow makes use of some of the greatest (or worst, depending on your point of view) clichés in the horror industry. According to imdb, Dead Snow is about:
“A ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students, as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies.”
Yes, you read that correctly: Nazi zombies.
The story involves Nazi gold that the Third Reich looted while occupying the area back in World War II and then stashed away shortly before their grisly deaths. In modern times, the medical students stumble upon the gold while partying and thus unleash the horde of Nazi zombies, who still thirst for their gold…and now, human flesh! As I’m sure you can imagine, death and carnage ensue as the students try to escape from the zombie menace.
Aside from the original story, Dead Snow boasts first rate make-up and special effects. No expense was spared for blood and gore, that’s for sure. The zombies look like, well, like decaying people, which works out well since that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be. And the gore…wow…the gore sure is impressive. For example, in homage to The Evil Dead, one of the characters saws his arm off with a chainsaw after he is bitten by a zombie, and then cauterizes the stump in a fire. Needless to say, nothing here is censored, and the snow runs red for quite a while afterwards.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie comes when one of the guys disembowels a Nazi, but is then grabbed by another Nazi who drags the guy and himself over the edge of a cliff. Fortunately, the guy has latched on to the disemboweled Nazi’s intestine, which allows him to swing below the cliff-ledge while the second Nazi plummets to his death, er, second-death.
Dead Snow probably won’t win any Academy Awards, but it’s a fun movie and a great zombie romp, if you are a fan of the genre. The English dub-over is a little coarse but easy to overlook once the movie gets going. I would also recommend watching with the dub-over, as the subtitles are quite distracting while you’re trying to take in all the carnage. And don’t forget to check out the Special Features for some behind-the-scenes footage and extras.
Dead Snow is a great film and a true testament to the quality of new talent that is emerging in cinema today. I highly recommend this movie and will definitely be adding it to my video collection.