Straight out of the gate: if you liked Dead Snow, the Norwegian, over-the-top zombie insanity that took the comedy-horror genre by storm a few years ago, then you will love the sequel. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead takes everything great in the first film, and ratchets it up like it’s on jet fuel (or more like Tiger tank fuel).
“Yeah, Dead Snow 1— I’m very proud of the film, but it was very constrained because of budget reasons,” director and writer Tommy Wirkola told ZRS. “The last 20 minutes of Dead Snow is what I truly loved doing. Mixing horror and comedy and action and splatter. So I said, if we’re ever going to do a sequel I wanted to go crazy from the first second. And just make a bloody, gory crazy ride.”
And that’s exactly what he did. There are more zombies (of both the Nazi and Soviet variety this time), more blood and intestines, more flying limbs and exploding heads. There are houses and even a busload of kids flattened by a vintage World War 2 Tiger tank!
Dead Snow 2 is probably the first movie that I can say– this is exactly what I wanted to do. This is the script we wrote. This is my vision, exactly how we saw it when we wrote it.
And, it has the Zombie Squad, a fictionalized version of a very real community of zombie and disaster preparedness enthusiasts.
“Speaking with the Dead Snow 2 crew, it became apparent that they understood what Zombie Squad really is about,” says Kristan Nickels of the Zombie Squad. ” We are not militia or survivalist nut jobs, we are a community of ordinary (and nerdy) members from all walks of life who want to make a difference by educating the public on the importance of disaster preparedness.”
“It was when we started just riffing on ideas when we were doing the sequel,” Wirkola remarks, “and somebody told us about this Zombie Squad that actually exists. “What? This is too good to be true! We have to involve this whenever we do a sequel. But as we got closer [to production], we thought, let’s make them major players in the story.”
Appearing in the film as a member of the Zombie Squad, is the very talented Martin Starr.
“It always helps if you have Americans and a recognizable face like Martin Starr,” Wirkola says. “We loved [him] from Freaks and Geeks. We knew we had to get somebody who had some credibility in the geek environment.”
And with the inclusion of the Zombie Squad comes the added benefit of no subtitles!
Wirkola explains, “Whenever they [the Zombie Squad] are there [in a scene], the Norwegians have to speak English. So I would say, in the original cut of the film that we’re releasing in Europe and Norway it’s about 50 percent Norwegian and 50 percent English. What we did though, is all the scenes we did in Norwegian with the Norwegian actors, we also did alternate takes with them speaking in English. So the version that’s going to be released here in the US is a full English speaking version.”
Dead Snow 2 picks up seconds after the first one, with the lone survivor Martin making his getaway from the Nazi zombie horde. But of course, the horror is not over, and when he discovers the Nazi leader Herzog, and his undead army are on a rampage through the countryside, he enlists a trio of American zombie hunters and an undead army of his own to fight back.
Though the movie takes place in Norway, it was actually filmed in Iceland. That and five years since the first Dead Snow came out, didn’t hinder getting the same players back together to make the sequel, including the tremendous Vegar Hoel as Martin and Ørjan Gamst as Herzog.
“It was fun being unleashed and going crazy and having alot of my friends back again,” Wirkola explains. “It was always a struggle schedule-wise, but everybody was dying to do it, which always helps. We had a blast but it was tough as hell shooting because we were trying to do so much for so little. Even though we had a bigger budget, we had a very ambitious script. And in addition it was the worst summer in Iceland for 40 years.”
Wirkola also speaks fondly about how the whole Dead Snow thing came about:
I am a huge fan of Raimi’s and Peter Jackson and I wanted to make a zombie film and I suggested [to my film partners] why don’t we do a Nazi film, because we have a really strong war history up in the north of Norway where I am from. I also knew if you are going to make a zombie film these days and even back in 2008, you have to have something that separates it. So we started writing the script for Dead Snow .
I remember we just gave all the money we made from the first film [we made] (a parody short film of Kill Bill called Kill Buljo) to our special effects unit– “you just start making zombie makeup and faces and blood and gore and we’ll hopefully get the rest of the money.”
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead hits theaters and Video-on-Demand on October 10th.