Archive for the ‘foreign zombie movies’ Tag

The REAL Evil Dead: Nazi Zombies Raise Hell in “Dead Snow”   Leave a comment

THE FROZEN DEAD: Nazi zombies — I hate those guys.

By C. Michael Forsyth

Nazis are scary and evil. Zombies are scary and evil. Nazi zombies are twice as scary and evil, right? Not necessarily, as the movie “Dead Snow” demonstrates.

The Norwegian zombie flick is about a group of young medical students who take a fun holiday break in a mountain cabin – unaware that the snow-covered peaks are infested with the reanimated corpses of German troops who froze to death there during World War II. It isn’t long before the murderous Nazi zombies blitzkrieg the campers, who must fight for their lives.

The movie isn’t particularly frightening. Turns out that Nazis don’t become any worse by virtue of being walking corpses – they’ve already maxed out. And zombies aren’t any more evil because they’re Nazis. Regardless of their politics, zombies pretty much all do the same thing: Kill, disembowel and eat people.

The filmmakers had an opportunity to come up with a neat mythology explaining the German soldiers’ return from the dead. We know the Nazis were devotees of the occult. Or perhaps a Gypsy cast a curse on the mass-murdering troops. But no explanation is offered.

JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS: Nazi stormtrooper takes no prisoners.

Story logic is thrown out the window: The cabin has been in the family of one of the women for decades, yet she has no clue there’s anything dangerous about the area. In fact, she elects to get to the cabin by cross-country skiing instead of joining the rest of the gang in cars. The campers are warned about the Nazi menace by a creepy old geezer who stops by the cabin – yet he camps out in the middle of snow at night, only to become zombie fodder. The Nazis are drawn to their missing gold (an interesting, if not entirely original angle). Yet the attacks begin before the campers discover the gold. The zombie colonel (yes, the goose-stepping undead stormtroopers are still just following orders) commands hundreds of his men to rise from their snowy graves at once. But inexplicably, he waits till the end of the flick to do this, after dozens of the zombies have been picked off one by one.

The most original thing about the film is the setting, that forbidding snow-enshrouded wilderness. The landscape allows for set pieces I’ve never seen in a horror movie before. That scene when the undead horde suddenly rises from the snow on the orders of their mottled leader is especially effective. And you have to give the movie makers credit for braving the 15-degree weather, dangerous crevasses and foot-deep snow of the Scandinavian mountains to bring us the film.

ZEIG HEIL! Colonel Herzog is even more evil dead than he was alive.

The director Tommy Wirkola said in an interview with Cinema Junkie that he was imitating the style of Sam Raimi, creator of the slapstick-filled “Evil Dead” movies. The movie, he explained, was basically a chance to show Nazi zombies being killed in as many gory, over-the-top and humorous ways as possible.

“We tried to do Sam Raimi but in a new way and we just wanted a really fun, fun film. That’s it,” he explained. “We really didn’t bother too much about the rules.”

Sure, okay. I grew up on “Hogan’s Heroes”. I know how hilarious those bumbling Nazis can be.

Certainly there are some funny moments: After one of the campers is bitten on the arm, he hacks it offf with a chainsaw (a tribute to Bruce Campbell in “The Evil Dead”). As he stands there grinning triumphantly, a zombie emerges from the snow and bites his “wedding tackle.” He and his companion trade dismayed “Oh, oh, what now?” looks.

The difference is “The Evil Dead” trilogy truly worked as both comedy and horror. The stories unfolded logically and you truly rooted for Bruce Campbell’s character Ash to survive. In “Dead Snow” the supernatural story simply doesn’t come together and you’re not particularly invested in the characters.

So, while there is some gory fun here, I’m afraid I can only give “Dead Snow” a two out of five swastika rating.

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR OF THIS STORY …

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VIVA LES MORTS! Frenchies Vs. Zombies in “THE HORDE.”   1 comment

Cops and gangsters are forced to team up to battle zombies in ultra-violent French horror flick.


By C. Michael Forsyth

When you mention French cinema to me, I usually think of artsy, high-brow movies like “Jules and Jim” and “The 400 Blows.” So when a pal raved to me about a really cool French zombie flick he’d just seen, I pounced on it. After all, we’ve got Cowboys and Aliens, why not Frogs Vs. Zombies?

The movie, “La Horde,” has a promising premise. A band of rogue cops bent on avenging the murder of one of their comrades raid a decaying tenement outside Paris, to butcher a Nigerian drug lord and his gang. The tables turn and they quickly find themselves outmanned and outgunned, facing imminent slaughter. But their REAL troubles start when the recently dead mysteriously begin to resurrect and they are trapped in the building facing a massive horde of vicious, flesh-eating zombies. The criminals and cops reluctantly band together to fight their way out of the tenement.

I’ve got to say, I didn’t find the movie offered much that previous zombie-siege flicks like “Dawn of the Dead” didn’t do better.

I’m a simple man with simple needs in horror movies: create characters that I’ll care about and put them in jeopardy. Here, the big problem is that there are only two characters that are even marginally sympathetic: One, tough-as-nails cop Quessem (Jean-Pierre Martins) and (arguably) the gang leader Asadewale (powerfully played by Eriq Ebouaney), who at least shows some loyalty to his own brother.

The rest of the motley crew are so despicable you actively root for them to be killed. I don’t mean just that they’re crooks or baddasses. I mean totally despicable. For instance, when the “heroes” manage to pin down a rabid female zombie, they debate raping her (jokingly, I hope to God) and taunt her with a decapitated head, trying to force her to do something sick that…well, let’s just say it gives a whole new meaning to the term “French kiss”. Usually, you can at least count on a horror film’s leading lady to have some compassion, but lady cop Aurore is actually the most heartless of all.

In most zombie flicks, there’s one turkey you hope dies. In the granddaddy of them all, “Night of the Living Dead,” you had that selfish coward who argued that everyone should just hide in the basement and wait for help instead of trying to escape the farmhouse (which, in an ironic twist, turned out to be exactly right.) But here, you’re itching for almost every single person on screen to become zombie meat!

NEVER SURRENDER: Quessem (Jean-Pierre Martins) is one Frenchman who won't let the enemy occupy his country without a fight.

I’ve got to admit, the protagonists are a lot tougher than your usual zombie-apocalypse everyman. They punch, kick and shoot their way out of scenarios that would leave the average guy a morsel of flesh in between some hungry zombie’s teeth. In some scenes they prove more ruthless than the hyperkinetic “28 Days Later“-type zombies themselves. In that movie, you’ll recall, when mild-mannered Jim becomes as fierce as the rage-virus “infected,” it’s a thought-provoking climax. In “The Horde,” when the humans out-do the inhumans in the violence department, it’s just sickening.

There’s one minor point I found irritating. Even though the bickering cops and criminals quickly realize the only way to kill the zombies is by shooting them in the head, they insist on multiple chest shots. They keep blasting away indiscriminately, even after their seemingly limitless ammo finally starts to run out.

Frankly, there’s only one scene in the entire movie I really liked. That’s when gutsy cop Quessem stands on the roof of a car single-handedly duking it out with the biggest army of zombies you’ve ever seen in your life — like Davy Crockett at the Alamo — fending them off with guns, a machete and bare fists. Here’s one Frenchie who DOESN’T believe in surrender. It’s one of those moments where every male viewer is saying, “Yeah, that’s just what I’d do in that situation.”

Would you really, guys? Hopefully, we’ll never have to find out.

Yes, Virginia, there are black French zombies.

C. Michael Forsyth's first novel has been hailed as "gripping and fast-paced."

The writer of this review has a new horror book out, titled Hour of the Beast. The eBook is a measly $5. To check out HOUR OF THE BEAST, click HERE.

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