It's Friday the 13th, so let's celebrate with some horror! Zombies are all the rage these days, but it's hard to get your fix with The Walking Dead on hiatus and the box office preoccupied with Alvin and the Chipmunks. Thankfully, there's no shortage of ghoulish flicks readily available through various streaming services. Films like Night of the Living Dead, The Evil Dead, and Zombi II really helped establish the genre, so if you're a zombie virgin, I'd suggest starting there. That being said, I've selected two offbeat zombie pictures for the perfect Friday night. Pair with finger food and a Bloody Mary for lots of fun and bad puns.
Let's start with 2009's Dead Snow directed by Tommy Wirkola. The premise combines all great cliches in horror: Norwegian medical students vacation at a winter cabin and accidentally awaken a zombie curse. Did I mention that they're Nazi zombies?
Instead of drowning in the I-can-kill-a-stranger-but-I-can't-kill-my-wife tropes of traditional zombie pictures, Wirkola has elevated his baddies to the ultimate in evil. Therefore, the medical students (and the audience) can unabashedly delight in the violence.
The film also rewards the viewer with humorously grotesque scenes. The Norwegian cabin does not contain a bathroom, so the students must trudge to the outhouse. It's only fitting that the young Chris is pulled down into the waste by a zombie. Later, one of the students actually uses zombie entrails as a rope while dangling off of a cliff. These moments of disgusting humor lighten the tension of the violence.
But what really stands out is the solid filmmaking behind Dead Snow. Each shot is beautifully composed, utilizing the stark Norwegian winter as a stunning contrast to the black-red blood of both the human and the undead. The action is emphasized by a thundering heavy metal soundtrack.
One thing to keep in mind is that Dead Snow is in Norwegian, so be prepared to read subtitles. The film is available to stream directly on Netflix.
If Nazi zombies aren't enough for you, then check out Dead Alive (1992, also known as Braindead outside of North America). Directed by Peter Jackson (yes, of Lord of the Rings fame), this comedic take on the zombie genre is highly reminiscent of Evil Dead 2: a lanky regular Joe is the only thing stopping New Zealand from being taken over by zombies. Instead of arming himself with a chainsaw, Lionel uses an entire lawnmower.
This scene is decidedly the most critical; rumor has it that a considerable portion of the film's budget went to the blood, which shot out at 300 liters per minute. That's a lot of gore!
Beyond the blood, the zombies mix some other bodily fluids. If you've ever wondered if zombies can mate, Dead Alive answers a resounding yes. Not only is a zombie baby conceived, it is birthed and goes on its own humorous killing rampage.
So, if you enjoy sickly Sumatran rat-monkeys, massive amounts of gore, hearty laughter, and Sigmund Freud, get your hands on Dead Alive.
That wraps up this week's Double Feature Friday. Enjoy your creepy Friday the 13th!