Fright Fest: DEAD SNOW (2009)
The first time I saw the trailer for Dead Snow, I knew I wanted to watch the movie. It looked fun, exciting, and familiar. When I finally watched the movie, I wasn’t disappointed. By the end, I was giddy. Dead Snow had all the horror elements in it that I enjoy: carnage, blood and guts, and a super cool villain. As an added bonus, it also had humor.
Dead Snow is a horror film that’s aware it’s a horror film. It recognizes and pays homage to horror films that came before it. The characters are intelligent, and one of them is incredibly knowledgeable about horror films (well, films in general). Several famous movies are mentioned, and tropes from those films are incorporated into Dead Snow. It feels very Scream-ish, and like Scream, just because the characters have horror movie knowledge, it doesn’t save them.
Dead Snow also has a lot of tropes you see in slasher films. I’m a huge fan of slasher films and have examined them in depth, so it was fun to see these elements in the film. They included:
Teens heading to a remote location
An elder showing up unexpectedly (and creepily) to warn the kids about the area and the horrible things that happened in the past to curse the area
Teens totally ignoring the elder and his warnings
Teens partaking in fun, including drinking and having sex
Teens being killed in gruesome fashion
In typical slasher films, these actions are enough to invoke the wrath of the killer. In Dead Snow, the teens awaken the killer by messing with something they shouldn’t mess with, much like Hellraiser or (one of my fave films of all time) the Evil Dead movie series. How the killer is awakened in Dead Snow doesn’t fit in the typical slasher film tropes, and it gives the film the chance to add elements that make it unique.
Zombies are not a unique film element, and neither are Nazi zombies. What makes these creatures unique is that they function like a draugr. It is a creature that rises from the grave to protect treasure—often with murderous actions. Draugrs have been featured in Viking stories, but they aren’t common in American stories—but Dead Snow isn’t American, and a draugr makes perfect sense as the villain and killer.
Note from the editor: The draugr or draug (Old Norse: draugr, plural draugar; modern Icelandic: draugur, Faroese: dreygur and Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian: draug), also called aptrganga or aptrgangr, literally “again-walker” (Icelandic: afturganga) is an undead creature from Norse mythology. For those who played Elder Scrolls Skyrim….yup, those dudes.
The main Nazi zombie, who functions as the head (incredibly awesome) villain, reminds me of Evil Ash from Army of Darkness, and I’m fairly certain that was the intention. There are several nods to the Evil Dead series through the film, including some unforgettable moments with a chainsaw.
But back to the villain. He’s brutal and badass in every way. He invokes fear with a look and commands hordes of the undead. Like all great horror movie villains (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers), he can’t be destroyed and keeps going to fulfill his cursed mission.
Dead Snow is an amazing horror film because it knows it’s not going to re-invent the horror film wheel. It recognizes the elements that made previous films classics and incorporates them without being cheesy or cliché-y. At the same time, it adds its own elements that make it slightly different from other horror films. I really like the movie Dead Snow and what it does for the horror genre. It’s gory, fun, and has a memorable villain. It’s a slasher film and a zombie film—two of my favorite genres—but it’s also so much more.
Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns. Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming–the home of 56 nationalities–it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing. Pembroke currently lives in Columbus, Nebraska, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, two fluffy Corgis named Floki and Siggy, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.
You can learn more about Pembroke Sinclair by visiting her at:
Don’t miss DEATH TO THE UNDEAD (Life After the Undead Book 2)!