Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead Sequel Gold

Film poster for Dead Snow 2.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead is the long awaited sequel to the 2009 Norwegian comedy horror film written and directed by Tommy Wirkola (Stig Frode co-wrote both films and this gold plated sequel also had Vegar Hoel working on the script.) This film follows the adventures of Martin (played again by Vegar Hoel) who was the unlikely survivor from the Dead Snow.

The first movie was about a group of friends who travel to the mountains for a skiing holiday and while they are staying in their cabin find Nazi gold hidden in a box under the floor. The second that any of the treasure leaves the box, a horde of zombie Nazis come out of the snow and begin killing off the holiday makers one-by-one.

For those who have not seen the first film, this is all covered in a short recap narrated by Martin himself. This time, the survivor is wanted by the police after they found all his dead friends up in the mountains. His fiancee, Hanna; who he accidentally killed with an ax, still has the weapon lodged in her throat, “with your fingerprints all over it,” the police detective smugly informs Martin.

On top of his immediate problems of being charged with multiple murders, he has had Herzog’s arm attached to his body, Herzog was the Nazi commander who led the undead soldiers. While recuperating in the hospital, handcuffed to his bed, Martin meets a young boy who is in contact with the US Zombie Squad. He talks the lad into releasing him only to kill the youngster with his zombie arm.

After trying, in a spectacular failure which results in obliterating any chance the boy had of recovering, to revive his new friend, Martin then talks to the zombie squad and they promise to arrive in Norway and save the day. The rest of the film deals with this disparate group trying to kill off the Nazi zombies as well as resurrecting a group of Russian zombies that Herzog had killed during the war to help them win this zombie battle.

At 100 minutes the sequel is that little bit longer than the first one. Overall, however, this does not matter in the least as the gags, and the gore, keep coming with machine gun rapidity that leaves the viewer gasping. The film’s humor runs from parody to full-on slapstick. Perhaps the only complaint was the decision to make the dialogue English versus Norwegian with subtitles.

It is surprising to hear Martin speaking English and while there are a few moment of confusion once the US Zombie Squad are introduced it all becomes clear why they dropped their native language and the subtitles. In all honesty, the film still works brilliantly and is funny regardless of the dialogue change.

Comparing the two films, it is obvious that the budget for number two is much bigger than the first one. The scope of the movie is much larger, no longer restricted to the snowy mountain setting from number one, this sequel roams across the Norwegian landscape through a village or two and back into those mountains.

In Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead, there are zombie fighting nerds, or geeks, a tank, the ability to touch dead people and turn them into zombies, or “recruiting” as Martin puts it at one point, and some local police who are very funny indeed.

Without resorting to any spoilers, there also seems to be a good chance for a Dead Snow 3 to become a reality. For those who loved the first two, this could be good news if they do not mess things up.

This is a real 5 out of 5 star film despite the odd things that make no sense, such as a museum tank having life rounds in it. Available on iTunes to stream and available on DVD.

7 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Murder Party (2007): Bargain Basement Fun

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I’ve been passing over this film choice on Netflix for months. I don’t know why, but something about the film’s poster put me off. To be brutally honest, the poster that starts this blog post actually looks better than the one on Netflix and it’s the same one!

Last night I finally bit the bullet and decided to give it a go. I girded my loins (whatever that means) and forced myself to watch it. I expected to wince constantly and turn the dammed thing off at the mid-way point.

Well…

I didn’t do that. Why? Because if there was ever another film in the world that could be the ethereal twin of Sam Raimi and co’s first film Evil Dead, it is Murder Party.

It is like the comedy/horror version of Judy and the kids saying, “Come on gang lets put on a show in the barn!” But in the film makers case it was in the warehouse of a cheap set.

Because despite the low-budget of Evil Dead (remember now, I’m talking about Raimi’s film, not the re-make), E D at least had a budget. Murder Party started rolling with a budget of 0 dollars and cents.These guys made a film so cheap, it made Raimi’s first film out of the gate look extravagant by comparison.

I am digressing, but, dammit; I have to. I looked this achingly funny film up on Wikipedia after I’d wiped the tears of mirth from my eyes while the end credits rolled.

“Who are these guys?” Looped through my head like a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid mantra. I had to know!

It turns out that the guys who made, starred in, and financed this “zero budget film” were all childhood friends who grew up and went to various film and media schools. They kept in touch and made a short film or two. It was while they were waiting for another film that they really wanted to make, but was caught-up in turn-around limbo, that they decided to make Murder Party.

Chris Sharp as Christopher Hawley aka Mister Average.
Chris Sharp as Christopher Hawley aka Mister Average.

The film is about an average guy who is a bit of a lonely loser. A sad sack (and points for those of you who remember this comic book character – answers, as always, on a post card please) who has no friends and his cat bullies him.

It is Halloween and on his way home from work, he finds an invitation to a “Murder Party” floating around on the sidewalk (path). He decides to go and in a burst of creativity makes his own costume with cardboard and duct tape. *It actually looks pretty good in a childish sad sort of way.*

He finds the party’s location and goes in. He finds to his consternation that it is a real murder party and he’s the victim.

All the members of this “party” are a consortium of artists who are trying to get funded by a rich pretentious pain in the ass rich boy. Each of the artists are flakey as hell and quite funny. Each of them are dressed up as iconic horror and science fiction characters. As “flakey” as each of these “artists” are, the rich boy prat Andrew is worse.

This film is great, gory fun and has a load of horror film references scattered throughout. I sat through this film giggling, laughing, and chuckling. *At one point, I believe I even snorted, but don’t hold me to that.*

It just goes to show that entertaining movies can be made for very, very little money and still look fantastic.

Murder Party was written, directed and produced by Jeremy Saulnier. It stars Chris Sharp as “everyman” Christopher S Hawley, meter cop non-extraordinaire and he does a brilliant job as the feckless hero/victim of the film. Every one of the actors does a splendid  job with their characters and at no point did I feel like any of them (apart from the foreign drug dealing chap who was a bit two-dimensional) were anything other than what they portrayed.

This is a real horrific comedy of errors that will have you cackling with laughter though out. If you haven’t seen it yet, hop on Netflix right now and watch it.

If you don’t love this film, I’ll eat my  metaphorical cardboard hat/helmet.

5 out of 5 stars for hilarious effort.

Murder Party Cast and Crew.
Murder Party Cast and Crew.

Doghouse (2009): She’s a Man Eater

I had no real intention of watching this film, but after talking to Darran over at foxxiecinnamon’s blog about the film Kill List and Neil Maskell (who I said made me think of a “posh-er” Danny Dyer); Darran said that the two had worked together in the film Doghouse and here we are.

I decided I needed to give the film a go and I’m glad I did. I rather unfairly judged it before I watched it; thinking that it would be yet another rip-off of Shaun of the Dead.

I was wrong.

It was another variation of a theme. Zombies in rural England, but with a difference; these zombies were women and part of a military experiment that made them faster and smarter as the virus mutated. Of course the biggest difference was that our “heroes” travelled to the zombies. They just didn’t turn up on their proverbial doorstep.

Directed by Jake West (Evil Aliens) who is better known in the industry as a documentary film maker and editor and written by Dan Shaffer who appears to have just started in the business; the film is a “buddy picture” where we follow a group of London lads who have planned a long-weekend of fun for their recently divorced mate.

The lads find out that Moodly is not the place to be for a night out.

The cast list is impressive:

Stephen Graham (This is England, Boardwalk Empire)

Danny Dyer (The Football Factory, The Business)

Noel Clark (AdULTHOOD, KiDULTHOOD)

Emil Warwa (East is East, West is West)

Christina Cole (Casino Royale, Hex)

Terry Stone (Rollin’ with the Nines, Bonded by Blood)

Neil Maskell (Kill List, Basic Instinct 2)

Plus a long list of other familiar English actors.

The plot centres on Vince (Graham) and his six mates. Vince is getting divorced and it has crushed the life out of him. His mates are all in relationships that have gone sour (except for Neil (Dyer) who thinks he is God’s gift to women and brags that women cannot resist him) who band together to get Vince out of London.

Mikey (Clark) has set the group up to spend a long weekend at Moodly, where the women outnumber the men 4 to 1. The plan is to get drunk (aka hammered), get laid, and for Vince to re-discover his love of life. As the men wait for Banksy (Maskell) their driver show up.

The driver, a woman called Ruth, (Cole) says it is time to go and Neil dubs her Candy. She accepts the “temporary” name change and they leave without Banksy assuming  that he will catch up with them later. On the way, Candy asks why on earth the lads want to go to Moodly. She describes it as a place at the end of the road and a real dump with no redeeming features.

They arrive at theMoodly public car park and the place looks deserted. They get out and Mikey goes to his Nan’s house which is being redecorated while she is on holiday and the lads intend to stay there for the weekend. The rest go to the pub but Patrick goes back to the bus to get Candy and their gear, which includes a bag of their mobile phones.

Neither Candy nor Ruth are up for visitors on the bus.

After waiting to be served in the pub and not seeing any bar staff, they all go outside. A teenage female “hoodie” attacks them and a soldier comes out of nowhere brandishing a huge knife and he tries to stab the girl. The men fight him off and he is trying to explain that things aren’t what they seem.

After they incapacitate him, the teenage girl’s face is revealed and her features are grey, drawn and savage. Her eyes are red and she is clearly not normal. While taking this in, more women appear all in varying forms of “zombie-like” appearance. Running back to the bus the lads find that Candy has now turned into a zombie and they cannot get back on.

This film was entertaining and it did pay a little homage to other films in the genre. Some of the men dress as women to fool the female zombies a la Shaun of the Dead’s zombie masquerade. A few other nods and winks were scattered through the film.

It is fast paced and Dyer seemed to enjoy playing a part that poked fun at his usual roles. All the actors did a good job although they did have a tendency to “mug-it-up” a bit. Most of them, though, played it straight and that helped to sell the film.

Neil Maskell as Banksy has less screen time than anyone in the main cast with only the odd cameo role being shorter. Still as a last-minute possible rescuer he did well. The film ended on an amusing cliff hanger and the laughs, though not of the belly shaking variety did keep coming.

Stereotypes were catered to and used to a good extent though the entire film and despite the fictional village of Moodly looking like a fictional village the film works overall. Most of the female zombies wore high-heeled “hooker” shoes and used “female” weapons, with the exception of the axe welding “bride.”

If you don’t expect Shakespeare or a serious message film, you will most likely enjoy Doghouse. It is available on Netflix and definitely worth a look.

Zombie golf, coming to a village near you.

X-Cross (2007): Good Time Horror Film

While I was on the comedy horror train with my last review of Lobos de Arga (can you tell that I love that film) I thought of another rib tickling comedy J-horror. X-Cross.

Now X-Cross or XX or (ekusu kurosu): makyô densetsu [original title] were all made in 2007, because they are the same film! Get it? We picked up the X-Cross DVD for a song at CEX after I’d been steadfastly ignoring it on the net.

It looked like a sort of mish-mash of soft-porn and horror that just did not interest me at all. But for the ridiculously low price of 3 pounds sterling, it was worth a look. Only after buying it did I realize the the guy who directed Battle Royale 2, Kenta Fukasaku had also directed this.

Now considering that I think the ending of Battle Royale 2 is not only pants, but pants squared and is so bad that I stop the film before it gets to the ‘Kenta’ end preferring that part of the movie to be the real end. Sad I know and on par with Marge Simpson eating the Bambi video tape rather than letting the kids see Bambi’s mom get shot…Oops! I hope I didn’t spoil that for you! I still decided to give the movie a go and I was glad I did.

Tetsuya Oishi wrote the screenplay taken from the novel written by Nobuyuki Jôkô. The film is classed in the ‘action horror’ genre and it does indeed fall into that realm of film, but what the DVD case won’t tell you (unlike IMDb which does tack comedy on the end of their description) is that the film is incredibly funny.

The film opens with a mobile phone (cell phone) vibrating and ringing in a closet. A girl looks in the closet and seeing the phone answers it. A man’s voice is heard and due to the poor signal his voice is broken and unclear. What is clear is that he is excited or upset. The girl takes the phone out of the closet and holds it near a window where the signal improves. The phone rings again and when she answers a mans voice tells her to, “get out of there! They’re going to cut off your leg!”

At that point someone starts banging on her cabin door. The film then ‘rewinds’ and shows us how this particular girl got here in the story and where the mobile phone came from. We also find out what happened to the mobile phone’s owner and it’s not good.

This ‘out-of-sequence’ and rewinding the action to show a previous event or even another one, is used throughout the entire film.

Shiyori (Nao Matsushita) and Aiko (Ami Suzuki) are driving along a remote and seemingly deserted mountain road in search of a hot springs resort that they have booked cabins at. Coming out of a tunnel they almost run down a woman standing in the middle of the road.

The scope of the film seems ever-expanding as more and more peripheral characters are introduced and then seemingly forgotten only to turn up later on in the film. We see things from Shiyori and then Aiko’s perspective  and like the rewinding time aspect at the beginning of the film, the timelines go all over the place. It is easy to get confused about just what is going on. The film is separated into chapters that (like a Tarantino film) have short descriptions of the chapter.

But if you hang in there and don’t let the screwy timelines or the rewinding time feature frustrate you, the movie will entertain you and make you laugh and jump.