B-Sol of The Vault of Horror here, filling in for the baton-twirlin' BJ-C with a little review of Dead Snow, a flick I finally caught earlier this week...
Just as I finished typing out the title to this post, I suddenly realized the issue was not as cut and dried as I'm making it out to be. I mean, on paper of course, the concept of Nazi zombies seems like one that cannot possibly go wrong. Zombies are badass and terrifying, Nazis are the ultimate movie bad guys; how can combining the two not yield joyful results? I'm sure a lot of people thought this going into last year's Norwegian fright flick, Dead Snow.
But then again, maybe none of those people have ever seen Oasis of the Zombies. Or any of the other drearily awful Nazi zombie movies that were pumped out during that bizarre subgenre's earlier heyday some 30 or so years ago. I did, which makes it harder for me to figure out exactly why I was so excited for Dead Snow in the first place. I was warned by those who saw it before me, and let me know I was in for a bit of a letdown. I didn't listen, but I should have. I guess I had to learn for myself.
Dead Snow is the story of a bunch of Norwegian college students away for a vacation in the mountains of their native land, unaware that the area is haunted by a platoon of undead einsatzgruppen searching for (guarding?) a bunch of gold they confiscated during the war. And that's basically all you really need to know.
What seemed like it could've been an interesting concept turns into your typical cabin-in-the-woods scenario. In fact, the kids even directly reference the Evil Dead, because we can't make a horror movie in the 21st century without being all ironic and self-referential, right? And of course, we wouldn't want the "subtlety" to be lost on anyone, either.
You have your basic setup, with the inevitably weird and creepy local old dude who comes upon the cabin and drops major plot exposition on the young lads and lasses, warning them of the their certain doom if they stay. The kids listen to what he has to say, debate it rationally, then pack their things up and go home safely to avoid the menace. End credits... Just kidding--imagine if that ever happened? No, they laugh it up, make fun of the guy and send him on his way. And guess what? The old dude turns out to have been right! Can you believe it?
And from the point that the old man leaves, there is quite literally nothing more in the way of plot. The movie then becomes a series of gory, self-awaredly cool zombie set-pieces strung together, unrelentingly, without any rhyme or reason. Crazy shit happens to character #1. Cut to next scene, in which crazy shit happens to characters #2 and #3. And so on. The gore is amazing, and the makeup work outstanding, no doubt about it. Quite simply, there's nothing interesting going on. But it's all dressed up nice and pretty.
Zombie Col. Herzog and his ghoulish minions are some cool-looking baddies, I'll give them that. But this movie is all sizzle and no steak, as my good buddy Jim Ross might say. All frosting, and no cake. It's like the filmmakers basically said, "Hey, we have Nazi zombies, we're made in the shade! Why bother with anything else?"
So don't be fooled by Dead Snow, because it's pretty much a bore. In the realm of bad Euro-zombie movies, we're not talking Night of the Living Dorks bad here--but still, it falls far short of what you're probably expecting if you haven't seen it. It seems we just have to learn all over again what horror fans learned a generation ago: Nazis and zombies do not automatically equal awesome...