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Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014)

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014)Starring Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr

Directed by Tommy Wirkola


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Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014)Starring Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr

Directed by Tommy Wirkola


Tommy Wirkola’s 2009 feature ‘Dead Snow’ was a victim of hype. A low-budget homage to the likes of Sam Raimi’s ‘The Evil Dead’ and Peter Jackson’s ‘Braindead’ (aka ‘Dead Alive’), it rode high on the fuel of the (still ongoing) modern craze for Nazi zombies. But it wasn’t very good. While it did offer up a few laughs, it was a very rough and inconsistent piece of work that seemed to gain much of its favour merely through its offbeat premise and inventive gore.

Now, five years later, Wirkola is back with a sequel that not only addresses almost every failing of the first film, but rips them out and beats it savagely around the head with them.

Picking right up where the original left off, Vegar Hoel is back as Martin, the sole survivor of the Nazi zombie attack seen previously. Having chain sawed off his arm and escaped to apparent safety, Martin discovers that one of the gold coins that initially spawned the undead ranks is still on his person – cue an attack within the first couple of minutes. Martin narrowly escapes by car, but dozes off behind the wheel and awakens in hospital, where he learns that the doctors have reattached an arm discovered in the car. An arm that actually belongs to the zombie commandant, Herzog. From here, Wirkola goes absolutely nuts with the material – Martin initially can’t control his powerful new limb, and the ensuing slaughter puts him firmly in the sights of the authorities. Via a procured mobile phone, he gets in touch with the American “Zombie Squad”, who advise him that they are on the way to help. Except it turns out that they’re just three geeks who are soon to be in way over their heads. Meanwhile, Herzog and his now expanded army (including a nefarious-looking doctor zombie) are on the march and headed towards an undisclosed target. You see, gold is no longer the objective here – rather, there’s some unfinished business for the Reich to carry out; orders direct from Hitler that were never fulfilled.

The only way to bring an end to Herzog’s march of doom is to raise an army to fight against him – something which Martin soon discovers is a power of his newly obtained arm. Thus begins a race against time to raise from the dead a Russian POW and his troops who gave Herzog a run for his money before he had them executed, before the encroaching Nazi army reach their target and unleash mass annihilation. The stage becomes set for a climactic battle, and the bumbling local cops looking to make a name for themselves by catching Martin are headed straight into the middle of it.

Honestly, the above seems like way too many elements to be trying to cram into a sequel to something as basic as ‘Dead Snow’, but that isn’t even the whole of it. Wirkola also manages to chuck in various other things, including a brilliantly handled zombie sidekick dedicated to doing anything he can to help Martin’s cause. As a film, it should be all over the place – but it isn’t. Dead Snow 2 is absolutely brilliant. The characters are lively, likeable and well rounded (especially Stig Frode Henriksen’s turn as Martin’s initial unwilling sidekick and closet gay war museum employee, Glenn), and it never lets up on a sense of wonderfully reckless humour. There is so much employed here in lovingly self-aware bad taste – not even kids, pregnant women, the disabled, elderly or young infants are safe – that you’re only ever minutes away from the next gut-busting moment that will make you feel like a really, really bad person for cracking up over it.

The gore level is off the scale, and Wirkola’s improvement as a filmmaker is clearly evident straight from the off. The entire thing looks solid and professional, sporting some excellent natural environments and gorgeous expanses offering a sense of scale that the first film could only dream of. Hell, there’s even a bona fide super hero movie shot and a climactic battle scene that sports some seriously well choreographed carnage and fisticuffs. On a technical and directorial level, it’s leagues ahead of its predecessor.

Simply put, Dead Snow 2 is a riot from start to finish. It doesn’t just improve on the original, it obliterates it. Those of a sensitive disposition should stay far, far away from this one but if you don’t mind having your morals tickled and can take your share of gore then you’re going to have one hell of a wild time. It isn’t just the best Nazi zombie film ever made, but quite easily the genre film of the year in terms of the sense of adventure and experience that it offers. It’s just THAT damned fun. There are minor quibbles to be had in terms of the story (Wirkola appears to do away with the fact that Martin also had his penis bitten off at the end of the first film), and the Zombie Squad members can be annoyingly trite at times, but these are easily forgiven in a film whose sheer level of unbridled craziness leaves you never knowing just what is going to happen next, and loving every single bloody moment of waiting to find out.

 

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
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Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

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Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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