Monday, August 31, 2009

Død snø

Well, this isn't really a spotted modern medievalism but does have some medieval content....

So, a while back in the interminable search for something to watch on a weekend night with the favorite spouse, we happened on a little movie titled Død snø, Dead Snow. The description said something about college kids on a break awaken a bunch of Nazi zombies who sleep in the snow....ok, this sounded hilarious to us, but we didn't take it in....

Until this weekend. Being in the same spot again and noting that Død snø was expiring as of tomorrow we paid the money and viewed the show. It was hilarious! Ok, it was no Army of Darkness or Shaun of the Dead, but pretty funny nonetheless.

The basic plot is a group of med students off on Easter break go up into the mountains to one of the group's family cabin for some skiing and fun. They unwittingly awaken an army of zombies from WWII, yep, evil Nazi bastards. They try to survive. It ain't great cinematic fare, but it was fun if you like the tongue in cheek sort of horror show which I do.

On the modern front, there are certainly nods to other films of the genre: as far as basic plot (kids in cabin in the woods awaken zombies), it is a Norwegian take on The Evil Dead. But in addition there are certainly nods to Army of Darkness, Indiana Jones, Shaun of the Dead, and references to a lot of other stuff including Die Hard, The Simpsons, and The Gubernator saying "I'll be back".

Now I'm not expert in the horror genre, or even the comic horror genre...the last "horror" show I saw in fact was Shaun of the Dead (love that movie!). But what struck me about Død snø is the number of things in the film that happen in Norse sagas as well. These all could be just part of the genre now, but that too would be fascinating that events and descriptions in medieval texts meant to horrify continue to be used now. I'm sure someone has written on this. A short of list of things I noted:

*Intenstines--lots and lots of intestines. There's more than saga character whose intestines get pulled out and a very painful and messy death occurs.

* Heroes caught in a burning building

* skulls broken open to reveal brains

* Heroic deaths after fighting off hordes of the enemy only to be finally overcome

* birds of omen, particularly ravens flying about

* the splitting of an enemy combatant from head to waste (and that brings us to Roland as well)

* decapitations (I'm thinking a lot about decapitation scenes of late)

SPOILER: If you care, don't read the next few lines

* Everyone dies. Well, the humans at least.

* Oh, and cursed gold. Seriously.

* Wizened stranger who is both frightening and friendly at turns who knows all (changed in this version from The Evil Dead's taperecorder)

* accidental killing of beloved by male character (ok, that happens in more than just the sagas and eddas, but there ya go)

There are also a few analogues to saint's vita if you look carefully.

Anyway, hilarious stuff, medieval analogues aplenty...I'm not saying that the filmmakers read the sagas and stole from them, but I find the analogues interesting nonetheless, and they serve much the same purpose. So if you get a chance to see the show for cheap, do so, it is worth it.


Steve Muhlberger said...

How cheap is worth it? :)

theswain said...

We paid $7 for On Demand....and hemmed and hawed about that too. Still, we laughed a lot.

Anonymous said...

Død snø is a fun little film. It reminds me of a recent Swedish zombie film Frostbiten (engl. Frostbite), 2006. Although zombie nazis save a lot, I personally thought Frostbiten a better movie because it had, in addition to splatter, quite a keen eye on teenager relationships. Oh, and it had one Nazi, too, although it isn't the main point.

However, as far as splatter film references go, notice how one character in Død snø has a t-shirt of Peter Jackson's seminal film, Braindead. That is the most gory and in my opinion the funniest splatter film of all time. Too bad it was distributed in the USA by the name Dead Alive with all the fun and gory bits cut (15 min). Which made it kind of pointless. Get the original, and you'll know where Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings orc fights originate from!