Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its sixth year on Ain’t It Cool News in October! And what a fantastic year in horror it was! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down my favorite horror film released since last October 1, 2014 and covered in my weekly AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2014 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column six years ago!) and worked and reworked a list throughout the year until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness; just my own personal favorites. The only rule qualifying the film for this countdown is that it had to be released to the masses (via theaters, digital download, On Demand, or DVD/BluRay) within the range of October 1, 2014 and October 1, 2015. Anything before or after that span of time doesn’t count in this haunted dojo. I’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth noting or just missed making the list for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the pick, it’s placing on the list, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, let me know your own personal faves from the last year in horror…let’s go!
#27 DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD
Available on iTunes and Netflix here!
DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD (2014)Directed by Tommy Wirkola
Written by Stig Frode Henriksen, Vegar Hoel, Tommy Wirkola
Starring Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Hallvard Holmen, Kristoffer Joner, Amrita Acharia, Derek Mears, Bjarte Tjøstheim, Charlotte Frogner, Jesper Sundnes
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
After a few missed attempts to see DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD at festivals, I finally got to check it out on BluRay this week and it really is a lot of fun. But there’s a noticeable shift in tone between the original and this sequel and I kind of wanted to talk about that in this review.
Like all cool sequels (such as EVIL DEAD 2, a film I’ll be referencing a lot in this review), DEAD SNOW 2 starts right where the original left off (only slightly tweaking continuity to adjust for the second film’s storyline). I love it when films do this because—even though it might not have been in the filmmakers’ heads to make this sequel at the end of the first film; it feels like it was all planned out. So while it is doubtful this was a planned LORD OF THE RINGS-like epic, director Tommy Wirkola makes it all feel like it’s is one.
The story definitely expands in this sequel as the Nazi zombies kind of switch gears from finding their lost gold to continuing their original mission before they were struck down by the Russians during WWII. Also coming back is Martin (Vegar Hoel) who was the sole survivor of the last film, minus an arm. Losing a limb really seems to be a subject Wirkola likes to delve into as the opening action sequence has Lead Nazi Zombie Herzog lose his own arm and after a goofy series of coincidences, Martin and Herzog end up with each others’ arms and a new power to raise the dead and add to their Nazi army. Losing a limb is also the subject of a short film which accompanies the BluRay called ARMEN which continues the dark sense of humor this film uses so well.
And there is a lot of fun to be had here with DEAD SNOW 2. The EVIL DEAD 2 slapstickery that was prevalent in the latter portion of the original is front and center here from beginning to end. Those looking for doom, gloom, and utter seriousness in their horror should check out other Nazi zombie flicks such as SHOCK WAVES, OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES, and the like. Here, no body part or type of person is ignored in the zombie mayhem. Even kids are not safe for the Nazi horde; something that usually is off limits in American films. In DEAD SNOW 2, kids, women, priests, and pretty much anything with a pulse will be dissected and desecrated by the Nazi undead.
The addition of the American Zombie Squad, lead by FREAKS & GEEKS alum Martin Starr is fun, though much of the flubs and inconsistencies in this film comes from the involvement of his squad. Somehow, immigration laws, getting a passport, and making plans to travel from America to Norway are almost immediate actions as all it takes is one call and a quick cut for Starr and his crew of female zombie killers to be on the scene. I laughed a lot at the Zombie Squad’s zeal as they react to the fact that zombies are real as well as the multiple nerd references dropped by the trio.
The humor at play here is pretty broad. This isn’t a criticism, but it is a quality of humor that is an acquired taste. Those who roll their eyes at THE THREE STOOGES or think DUMB AND DUMBER is as stupid as can be will most likely be adverse to buying into the over the top violence at play here. Still I laughed a ton at this film and while it feels like the comedy and gore changed to a more broad scope in the sequel, bu those who thrilled at the chaos that ensued in the final moments of the first film will most likely be the ones applauding at this one.
And while DEAD SNOW went for the shock and awe ending, this one at least seems to wrap things up into a more pleasing, albeit gross package. There’s a sense of closure here that wasn’t in the first film as it really feels the character of Martin ends up where he should, as do the Nazis. As a double feature, DEAD SNOW and its sequel work much better than most first and second installments. Here’s hoping if there is a third installment, it maintains this level of laughs and gore.
Worth noting: ABCs OF DEATH 2!
#31 – AN AMERICAN TERROR
#30 – WE ARE STILL HERE
#29 – FROM THE DARK
#28 – THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 6. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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