Posts Tagged ‘Foreign


Dead Snow: The Next Great Zombie Film

The Next big thing in Undead Cinema.

The Next big thing in Undead Cinema.

For those of you who may not know, I have a serious love for anything involving the use of zombies or the undead.  From movies to video games to literature, I am fascinated by how versatile they are in any storytelling medium.  So imagine how excited I was when I first heard about a foreign zombie flick, taking place in the snowy mountains, that feature…(drum roll please)…Nazi Zombies.

Oh yes kids, it’s true.  And you know what is even better?  It is a superb horror flick.

Now, a little history.  There have been some exploitation style movies, back in the 60’s, 70’s and I think even up until the 80’s, that have tackled the idea of having undead nazi soldiers, but most were completely and utterly terrible.  I’m not talking “funny Ha-Ha get drunk with your friends and watch it” terrible.  I’m talking bad to the point of nausea.  For evidence of this, please see (read: download illegally for free) Zombie Lake. /End history lesson.

But enough wasted time establishing the immense uphill battle that Dead Snow faced, and let’s get on with the review.  The plot of Dead snow is a simple one, but simple doesn’t imply that it isn’t well utilized and perfectly solid.  Some 20 somethings are going on vacation, and decide to go up to a cabin in the snowy mountain woods.  The “old crazy story teller guy” warns them of some old wives tale about soldiers who died in these woods surrounding the cabin.  Of course, our 20 somethings, including a great “movie geek guy”, cast him off as a crazy local, and shortly there after, all hell breaks lose in the form, you guessed it, Nazi Zombies.

Fantastic make up on the Nazi Zombies

Fantastic make up on the Nazi Zombies

The magic of Dead Snow isn’t it’s plot though, it’s in the characters and the fantastically rewarding pace.  The group of friends aren’t typical zombie fodder, there isn’t a clear cut stereotypical “slut”, nor is there the guy who is hopelessly in love with a girl he can never get, and there isn’t a clear “dick” character, who is rude and crass but painfully funny and accurate in his social observations.  Instead, everyone character feels a bit more three-dimensional, they all seem to have a good, general sense of wit, and while they each have unique personality traits, like a knack for humor or a knowledge of movies, they come on as more than just TV sitcom characters who are helping to strengthen rigid stereotyping.  Also, characters evolve, something rarely seen in horror today.

The pace is the second most important piece to the Dead Snow puzzle.  From the opening scene, we are treated to classical music as a Jane Doe gets hunted down by our ruthless zombies at night.  This is a great way to introduce people to the movie antagonists without spoiling there appearance, and combining it with a classic misdirection “boo” scare makes it all the more fun.  There is no notion that in order to create good characters, that we the audience can relate to and invest in, we have to stare at them doing mundane things for 45 minutes.  Dead Snow introduces everyone quickly, letting you adapt to their personal behavior and traits on the fly, all the while keeping the tension high by inventing some new and resurrecting some old classic boo scares.  And when the well dries up on tension and suspense, the movie goes into absolute overdrive, providing the kind of kick ass orgy of violence only true horror can deliver.

Sometimes, you just gotta fight back the undead horde with garden tools.

Sometimes, you just gotta fight back the undead horde with garden tools.

The last thing I would like to touch on is the special effects.  Minimal CGI means that lots of fake blood, limbs, and intestines get strewn all over the place, and the choreographing of the fight scenes is so tight and visceral, that it really helps bring you into the struggle.  It’s a scrappy, survivor type of fighting, nothing fancy or cool about it.  It’s a nice contrast to the modern day practice  of ridiculously complicated and illogical battles between good and evil in horror movies, when instead you would just be reduced to dirty tactics and savagery in the case you were ever attacked by the undead.

So, in the interest of keeping this one short and sweet (just how I like my women) I will wrap this up by saying that Dead Snow has all the earmarks of the next big independent horror film, especially in the flooded sub-division of Zombie films.  It shows an intimate knowledge and respect of its’ ancestors, most notably Raimi and Romero, but it also comes packing a slew of original ideas, as well as innovative implementations of standard tricks of the horror movie trade.   It is  unpredictable, direct, funny, unapologetic, and wholly satisfying.

It is at this point in time where you should be googling your ass off trying to find this flick.




Internet Oddities January 2009

It may be a new year, but there is no shortage of viral lunacy circulating the Internet.  So, while we cook up some new original material behind the scenes, have a gander and kill some brain cells from this garbage, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible.

P.S. I also included some trailers for upcoming flicks I think we should have on our collective radar.


Versus by Ryuhei Kitamura

The Ultimate 3-disc set.  The Definitive Version of the Film.

The Ultimate 3-disc set. The Definitive Version of the Film.

When I was younger, I remember watching Terminator 2 for the first time.  I was blown away by the special effects, the blistering pace (even though the movie is a pubic hair shy of 3 HOURS LONG!!!), and above all, the fantastic fight scenes and gun play.

After watching my main man Arnold descend into his fiery grave, melting to death while giving a thumbs up, the hunt was on.  I needed to see more.  More action, more guns blazing, more motorcycles chasing helicopters, more….EVERYTHING.

My search led me to all the American action movies you could think of.  Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Tango and Cash and everything in between.  But I was getting older, and even at the turn of the century, the American action scene just wasn’t cutting it.

Enter the Internet and the ridiculous underground buzz a little Japanese film called “Versus” was getting.

After reading some reviews, I got my mom to order it for me.  Luckily it was around Christmas time, so it wasn’t a tough sell.

Little did I know that the blood lust that a cyborg and a liquid robot started years ago would finally be quenched.

Versus, directed Ryuhei Kitamura, is a story of good versus evil.  I won’t go to deeply into the plot, because I believe it’s actually quite good. This fight takes place throughout history, with the same two combatants fighting over the soul of a girl.  This time however, they are fighting in present day in the Forest of Resurrection, which is the 444th portal to “the other side.” A ruthless gang also becomes involved, a gang that is notorious for killing people, and then burying them in the massive forest.

Throughout the movie we are introduced to different characters, all of which make sense and have great varying personalities and fighting styles.  At some points, you may wonder for a second if Kitamura is bringing in too many people into the fray, but he keeps things well-organized, and does a good job explaining as least the bare essentials as to who is who and why they are there.

The acting is quite satisfying, Kitamura pulls a bit of a John Woo in his films, usually using Tak Sakaguchi and Hideo Sakaki as his leading men, much like John Woo used Chow Yun fat and Tony Leung in some of his films.  The supporting cast doesn’t just take a seat to the main men in the story however, as is illustrated by Kenji Matsuda’s hilariously over-the-top performance of a gang leader who loves to kill, but has a bit of a flair for the dramatic…and rapid-cycling bi-polar disorder.  At then end of the day though, Sakaguchi and Sakaki prove that even language barriers (I watch my foreign movies with subtitles on, as to try and get a feel for whether or not the actors I’m watching cant actually act) can’t detract from their on-screen presence, even in the subject matter is very far-fetched.

The real star here though, is Kitamura.  No, he doesn’t pull a hitchcock and show up in his film, instead he delivers some amazing shots, both of his frenetic and mind-blowing actions scenes, and of the lush, living and haunting forest that the entire movie is shot in.  The largest compliment I can give to him, and the best example of Kitamura’s film-making ability is that if you do watch Versus, think about how much you feel it would have cost to make that movie.  I bet you never would’ve guessed Kitamura cranked out this gem on a mere budget of 400,000.  Let the comparisons to Evil Dead begin.

And speaking of Evil Dead, I think that’s as good a place to come to a conclusion as any.  Kitamura has taken the idea of the haunted forest that can ressurect people and the battle between good and evil that seems to always take place their, and fused it with hong kong style gun play, eastern style martial arts, european-influenced brutality and gore, and a simple yet effective epic storyline to create something very original, using parts that are very familiar to any serious movie fan.