Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:13
Tommy Wirkola talks Dead Snow 2 FeaturedWritten by Tom Rizzo
Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola quickly gained the attention of genre-lovers with his Nazi-zombie splatter Dead Snow back in 2009, which received several praises for its ambitious use of gore, stellar makeup as well as its twisted humor and central premise.
After his debut, Wirkola turned to fantasy action-horror (with a hint of Grimm...) Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, released last year, but now the director goes (sort of) back to his roots the outrageous sequel to Dead Snow, subtitled Red vs. Dead. Guess why.
Anyone who has seen the new movie can attest to how much Wirkola revels in the "more is more" rule of sequels, but Dead Snow 2 is a total blast to watch for those who share his sense of humor, and a strong stomach. Everything is way bigger: it's got more locations, more gruesome fatalities and an outrageous sense of escalation once Soviet zombies march into the plot to kick some undead Nazi-ass.
After viewing the movie, I spoke with Wirkola about some of its ideas, his fondness for 'splatstick', casting Iceland in the role of Norway and what's next in store.
Tom Rizzo: First off... Where did the idea come from to expand on the first film?
Tommy Wirkola: We always knew that one day we would love to do another Dead Snow, after the great reception we got from the first one. First of all, we had a blast doing the film, and second, it is in a genre that is very close to my heart, so when we saw that we might have a window where we could do a sequel, we jumped at it.
I love how it stays true to the original movie and yet brings us something totally (and tonally) different.
T.R.: A lot of horror sequels do seem to go for the cheap shot, by re-doing the first one. Was that something you deliberately tried to avoid from the get-go?
T.W.: It was. Like you, we felt that a lot of sequels simply just redoes the first one, only with bigger budget and effects. But we knew we wanted to continue the story EXACTLY where the first one left off, and that we wanted to try and do something completely different. Personally, what I loved about the most about the first Dead Snow was the last 20 minutes, where I got to mix action, gore, horror and comedy all into one, and that was something I wanted to do throughout ALL of Dead Snow 2. I wanted it to feel like a ride, a ride that started off in an insane tempo, and just took off from there.
T.R.: I really dug that early Raimi/Jackson vibe, how big would you say those two serve as influences?
T.W.: Huge. I was a massive horror-geek when I was a kid, but when I saw Evil Dead 2, or Braindead, for the first time, it was an eye opener to me. Mixing comedy with horror and gore was like that was something I had never seen before, so those movies became very special to me in my early days, and has influenced me big time, really, when it comes to all my films.
T.R.: On that note, what are the most challenging aspects of balancing horror and humor?
T.W.: It's always tricky. How much comedy do you go for. If you go too far, it you make it too goofy and funny, the film will lose tension and impact. So we always kept that in mind... how far to we go? But hopefully we got the balance just right...
T.R.: I'm pretty sure Icelanders, being partially one myself, will have a ball seeing their country being portrayed as Talvik as well as other areas, what was your experience like shooting here?
T.W.: We had A LOT of fun shooting in Iceland. The crew was truly amazing, and luckily they shared both my sense of humor, and my love for gore, so that made things a lot easier.
But yeah... Iceland was a great match for the north of Norway. We looked both in Ireland, and in Eastern Europe, but it became pretty clear, very fast, that Iceland was the only placed that resembled Talvik, Ice bay, etc, etc. The weather was a bit challenging when we shot (they told us it was the worst summer in 40 years), but that was also a good thing, because at least it meant that it was consistent. Most of the shoot we had clouds (and a little bit of rain), which sucks to shoot in, but it does look great on film. So all in all, we were very happy with the weather.
T.R.: I gotta ask, are your parents fans of gore as well?
T.W.: No, not really. But they have enjoyed both the Dead Snow films, thankfully, and Hansel & Gretel... so they are warming up to it.
T.R.: Are you ever curious to try out serious horror?
T.W.: Maybe. First I want to venture into other genres, like action or sci-fi, but yes, maybe in the future I'll do a more serious horror film.
T.R.: Are there any lesser-known zombie-flicks that you could recommend to us movie lovers?
T.W.: Well... for Nazi zombie lovers, one can always check out Shock Waves. The only real Nazi zombie movie made before Dead Snow. Other than that, I do really love Return of the Living Dead. Another film that mixes horror and comedy in a great way.
T.R.: I noticed that What Happened to Monday? is labeled as an indie sci-fi drama (with Noomi Rapace attached). What attracted you to that project and what can we expect?
T.W.: That is right, yes. Hopefully that will be my next film. It is a sci fi, resembling Children of Men and Source Code in tone and feel. Noomi Rapace is attached to star, and hopefully we can start shooting this year.
T.R.: Are there any cool updates on Hansel & Gretel 2?
T.W.: Not really. I handed in a script to the studio a while back, which they really liked, so now it is in their hands. I know that they want to do it, but with Jeremy, Gemma and me busy doing a lot of other stuff, it will just take some juggling to get it all to work out.
T.R.: Final question. On the film's IMDb page it says "Shot in both Norwegian and English versions." Could you please elaborate on that? Is there an all-english version?
T.W.: Yes, there is. A lot of the movie is in English anyway (cause of the arrival of The Zombie Squad), but yeah, we did shoot the rest in both languages. The reason for that is because we wanted to get as good distribution as possible in the states, so considering they don't like to read subtitles, we had to go that route.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead premired in Norway last february, Iceland in March and should hopefully recieve recieve wider distribution this fall. Keep an eye out for it.