What two more distasteful subjects could there be than Nazis and zombies – neither of which could usually be mistaken as the basis for a humorous film. Combine them however (with the addition of the remnants of a Russian army), under the guidance of director Tommy Wirkola, and what you get is Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014). The follow-up to his cult hit Dead Snow (2009) is the ultimate in gross-out horror with heavy helpings of side-splitting humour. Picking up where the original instalment finished, we see Martin (Vegar Hoel), the sole survivor of the zombie massacre, involved in a car crash along with the severed arm of Nazi Colonel Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) lying on the floor beside him.
Waking up in hospital several days later, Martin is informed by the police that he is suspected of the murder of his friends. Worse comes however when a doctor explains that they’ve managed to save the arm which they found in his car, and graft it back on his body. As the realisation dawns of the real owner of his new arm, and that the zombie hoards he thought destroyed are but a day’s march away, Martin again finds himself in a Nordic nightmare from which he cannot wake. Filmmakers taking on the unpleasant task of fusing Hitler’s most despised followers with the resurrected undead, must be brave. As far back as the early 1940s Hollywood was combining both feared elements in films such as John Carradine vehicle Revenge of the Zombies (1943), directed by the Hungarian-born Steve Sekely.
However, though the resultant creatures periodically appeared during the ensuing decades, most films featuring the German undead took a serious approach. Few flavoured the carnage with humour, until Wirkola’s headline making hit appeared. Which is what makes his original work, and now its follow-up, work. Everyone knows a good horror film should be like a roller-coaster ride – it may terrify you, but you come out at the end smiling and with an unquenchable desire to experience it all again. Which is exactly what Red vs. Dead does. Though with its fair share of weaknesses – including a human cast with little more life than their zombie counterparts – the film manages to fill the cracks with enough slapstick gore that you will easily forgive such shortcomings. Red vs. Dead’s mind numbing bombardment of visceral political incorrectness may have you reeling, but you’ll also be left with a ravenous craving for the next ‘inevitable’ episode.
Film4 FrightFest 2014 takes place from 21-25 August. For more of our FrightFest coverage, simply follow this link.