VERY EVIL DEAD
In stores: Oct. 20
Plot: A group of medical students vacationing in the north of Norway find themselves fighting for their lives when they are attacked by a squad of Nazi zombies.
Verdict: We’ve seen Nazi zombies before (hello, Shock Waves), but Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola has fun with this straight-up zombiefest, and has no compunction about staining his home country’s white snow red.
DVD extras: ‘Ein! Zwei! Die! – The Making of Dead Snow, ‘Cast & Crew at Sundance’, ‘Make-up Featurette’, ‘Special Effects’ Featurette.
THE DLB Q&A WITH DEAD SNOW DIRECTOR TOMMY WIRKOLA
ON THE STORY’S ORIGINS
When I came up with this idea a lot of years ago, we just figured, you know, what’s more evil than a zombie? A Nazi zombie! It’s a way to make a campy, fun film, and, at the same time, play with the themes and stuff that is known in Norway.
ON THE MOVIE’S FEEL:
What we wanted to do is go back to that ‘80s feeling, where you could show so much blood and guts and decapitations and all that stuff, but when the audience walks out, they walk out with a smile and almost have a positive experience.
ON BALANCING GUFFAWS AND GORE:
The humour and the horror was a thing we discussed a lot, trying not to go too far in either direction, especially in the humour and the comedy. Because once you tip over too much, it becomes a parody, and we didn’t want to do that. We added a few jokes here or there, removed a couple of them during the shoot, and we thought a lot about keeping that balance.
ON NORWAY AND NAZIS:
The north of Norway, compared to the south of Norway, got it really hard, because when the Russians started working their way into Norway, they came in through the north, and the Germans knew that. And they burned down every single house and building; they left nothing for the Russians to hide in, to get warm in because of the winter. So except for a couple of churches, we haven’t got a single building that’s older than 50 years, and all the people in north of Norway were moved south. So in the north, especially, there’s a lot of histories, stories, strong feelings about it.
ON WHY HIS ZOMBIES RUN:
There are two good reasons why we needed them to run. The one is, of course, well, the chase sequences happen in snow. So, again, if you run in the deep snow, it will be really unscary if they walk as well! And second, these are Nazi zombies. These are fast, organized units. The Nazis should be fast. We talked a lot about the zombie rules and them being after the gold, not flesh and gore. It’s half zombie, half almost a good old fashioned curse film/pirate story almost. So we wanted to mix those two. But Nazi zombies should be a little different than an ordinary zombie.
ON NORWEGIAN TOUGHNESS:
We wanted to keep a little bit of the spirit of north of Norway because we have a lot of hard nature in the north compared to the south, a lot like Canada. So hard people and hard nature. And we didn’t want these people to be easy kills. We wanted them to fight for their lives. Really fight.
All young boys have to go to the army. Norwegians take this pride in taking care of themselves outdoors and when they’re injured, and [they] don’t need help unless it’s really, really, really necessary.
ON NATURE AS A VILLAIN:
We wanted nature almost be a villain itself, another obstacle for them to survive. Everything is much worse when you have to escape a zombie and you have to do it in two metres of snow! We just wanted them to be out in the mountains where me and my writing partner has been a lot. We knew how it was and how it looked. We just wanted to give it an edge.
In my older years, when I started studying movies, I always thought that place would be an excellent place to shoot a movie. North of Norway is really different from south of Norway as well. Most of the films are made in the south of Norway, but me and my guys always said, ‘Why do you need to go to the south when you have mountains and forests and beaches and sea and all this beautiful stuff in the north?’ So that’s one of our goals, to keep shooting movies up there.
ON HOLLYWOOD’S INFLUENCE ON NORWEGIAN AUDIENCES:
Fifteen years ago, there were no genre films in Norway almost. No matter what genre you had, there was always the ‘drama’ word in it almost. Really serious films. But the young audience is Norway didn’t go to them and watch them. So in the last ten years, pure Hollywood influences – comedies and especially horror films – are starting to pop up, and young people are going to the movies more than ever before. And it’s amazing to me that Norwegian film has been so slow in making these types of films. It’s starting to come more and more of course, but there hasn’t been much until the last ten years.
A lot of people thought we were gambling when we made a zombie film in Norway because a lot of people doubted that young people in Norway would go see it. But luckily they were wrong of course and it was a big hit in Norway as well. I’m not embarrassed to say that I love Hollywood and a lot of their films. I’m much influenced by American film.
ON SCREENING THE FILM AT SUNDANCE:
That was the coolest screening I ever attended. In Norway, people are more courteous, silent when they watch a film, but the audience [at Sundance] was crazy and shouting and screaming.
The original version of my interview can be found in the June 2009 issue of Rue Morgue Magazine (www.rue-morgue.com).