Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #335
Number of Views: One
Release Date: 19 January 2014 (Sundance)
Sub-Genre: Zombie Horror/Comedy
Country of Origin: Norway/Iceland
Running Time: 100 minutes
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Producer: Terje Strømstad
Screenplay: Tommy Wirkola, Stig Frode Henriksen, Vegar Hoel
Special Effects: Haukur Karlsson
Visual Effects: Bryan Jones
Cinematography: Matthew Weston
Score: Christian Wibe
Editing: Martin Stoltz
Studios: Saga Film, Tappeluft Pictures, thefyzz, XYZ Films
Distributor: Well Go USA Entertainment
Stars: Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Hallvard Holmen, Kristoffer Joner, Amrita Acharia, Derek Mears, Bjarte Tjøstheim, Christian Rubeck, Charlotte Frogner, Jesper Sundnes, Tage Guddingsmo, David Skaufjord, Daniel Berge Halvorsen, Guðmundur Ólafsson, Ingar Helge Gimle, Carl-Magnus Adner, Ivar Lykke, Lars Sundsbø
Suggested Audio Candy
 Christian Wibe “Hertzog’s Theme”
 Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse of The Heart”
I wish to commence this appraisal with a poser. The Evil Dead or Army of Darkness. Which of the following tickles your pickle most fancifully? Should you select the latter then I may well be about to introduce you to your new favorite movie. Personally, as groovy as Ash’s medieval malarkey may still be, I shall reside in the cabin forevermore conversing with the moose’s head so it looks like I’m shit out of luck here. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead represents one of the most audacious tonal shifts of recent times and, despite being a continuation of the first film, is an altogether different animal.
Director Tommy Wirkola makes a number of significant alterations to his gainful formula, aided by far deeper pockets this time and looking to build a potential franchise. The first is unprecedented; wave adieu to subtitles as the cast, many of which are Norwegian, speak in an American tongue. I know right? Many of you will be jubilant at the revelation but I felt a little disgruntled by the decision. However, industry waits for no man and this opens the series up to a far wider audience so who am I to stand before the trundling tracks of industry? This is just one of a number of modifications and another humdinger in Keeper’s eyes is the decision to play squarely for laughs. I remain po-faced.
Should you be losing heart with my scathing observations then please hold tight. It’s not all bad; far from it. But I just need to get a few diminutive things off my chest before sucking Nazi dick. We all know there’s nothing I love more than a hearty guffaw. Laughter keeps you looking younger for longer apparently; look at the magnificent Leslie Nielsen, he didn’t age a single day for nearly thirty years as a direct result of Police Squad. How do you think Steve Martin is such a fiend on the banjo? Comedy will do that to a man. However, it’s not all chuckles and compromised bladders. Red vs. Dead veers ominously close to downright parody at regular intervals and I like my horror straight up and minus the comedic chaser.
I’m very mindful of the fact that I’m in the minority here; currently Wirkola’s sequel garners one of the most impressive aggregates of any of its contemporaries and is regarded as treasure of the highest order pretty much across the board. To suggest this isn’t a feverishly entertaining romp would be akin to throwing myself into the lion’s den wearing a mutton waistcoat. It just took a little time for realignment after the original left such a strong impression on me. Once I faced up to certain painful truths and enjoyed the ride for what it is; I had something of a blast with this kitchen-sink splatterfest and so will you I’m assured.
Picking up from where the first film left off, we are reacquainted with the luckless Martin (Vegar Hoel), who is decidedly less squeamish than previously, as he finds momentary solace handcuffed to a hospital bed. His operation was a resounding success and he is now in possession of a brand new right arm for the purposes of masturbation and Sudoku. The fact that it is thoroughly cursed and has a mind of its very own proves disconcerting at the offset, and again tips the hat to Sam Raimi, but the realization that SS officer Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) is hellbent on completing his prior mission makes the upgraded limb something of a plus. Little Bobby wouldn’t be so quick to agree; Wirkola makes it abundantly clear that he has no objection with slaughtering innocents, regardless of whether or not they are endowed with pubic hair.
In truth, he hasn’t even began to get started. As the tracks of Herzog’s mechanical monster crunch down on the bones of a group of pre-schoolers, an elderly man is battered about the head with a ceramic toilet tank while his wife is soundly perforated in the bath tub, a toppled paraplegic is callously curb stomped, and a pair of young mothers … plus newborns… are taken out with a solitary shell from the Nazi’s tank gun in the space of two minutes; anything whatsoever resembling restraint has been soundly vanquished. Martin is required to act fast and construct his own small army using his newly acquired bionic arm and healing hands that Jesus would be jealous of.
He also calls on the services of the self-proclaimed Zombie Squad and heroes in their own back yard. These gormless looking siblings, led by the missing nerd Daniel (Martin Starr) prove surprisingly resourceful as do Martin’s new festering sidekicks, which include a potential new playmate for Bub. To complete his company, co-writer Stig Frode Henriksen again returns to run the gauntlet a second time as timid WWII Museum employee Glenn. The war is waged in primarily exterior rural locations and dead snow is replaced by the turf of the recently departed. Game on; please clear the splash-zone … a little further back … keep going … I’ll tell you when to stop … that should do it. Second thoughts, take two more steps back.
Unhinged seems to be the word which most accurately describes Red vs. Dead. It’s as demented as a well-shaken sack of squirrels and Wirkola ups the ante in virtually every respect. While the broad comedic aspect is relied on far too heavily and is a little too exaggerated for personal tastes, there can be no denying that, for 100 minutes, you will be clapping like appreciative seals at the hotchpotch of madness he has constructed. If you’re searching for slow-building tension then I would recommend placing your head in a vice and turning the crank. However, if you’re looking for thrills and enough spills to fill a Roman amphitheater to overflow, then look no further.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10
Grue Factor: 5/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: Limbs are lopped off, vital organs stretched taut and used to siphon fuel, heads burst, caved in, and downright obliterated, attempts at cardiopulmonary resuscitation fail miserably, infants, geriatrics and the disabled suffer a torrid time, and there’s even a little necrophilia thrown in to the tune of Bonnie Tyler’s only too familiar power ballad for good measure. Dead Snow takes some beating when it comes to grue, but over six times the budget equates to many more gallons of gore for the squirting and Wirkola isn’t afraid to shake that soda.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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