Monthly Archives: October 2012

Death Trap

Death Trap, aka Eaten Alive, a 1977 film by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s Tobe Hooper, sees a reclusive hotel owner feed an assortment of visitors to the plastic very real crocodile that lives in a swamp by his hotel.

Set in a sleepy American backwood which only seems to house a bar, a brothel and this hotel, a girl running away from her family is the first to come across Neville Brand’s psychotic innkeeper, which he plays superbly in a completely unhinged, murderous fashion. A family appear, and then the missing runaway’s father and sister turn up following her trail to the town, leading to various gory episodes with a scythe, bared breasts and people running around screaming. That’s basically it – the film had three writers and that was the extent of what they could manage – but the acting actually isn’t as bad as you may expect. Nightmare on Elm Street’s Robert Englund does a turn as an obnoxious young local, whilst Janus Blythe from The Hills Have Eyes also makes an appearance, but Brand really nails the lead role as a barely coherent loner.

It’s not good, but there’s a level of creepiness to it, and a slight weirdness as well which reminded me of Twin Peaks. Supposedly normal people suddenly have a bit of an episode; at one point the father who turns up with his wife and young girl once they’re in their room suddenly starts hysterically laughing and saying his wife has stubbed out her cigarette in his eye, and his wife acts as though this isn’t unusual, and the lighting around the hotel changes completely from reds to sunlight and then back to darkness in the same scene.

You know what’s going to happen in the end, so basically if you enjoy people pretending to be eaten by a crocodile, this is the film for you.

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Dead Snow

This 2009 film directed by Norwegian Tommy Wirkola, Dead Snow sees a group of Norwegian medical students head off to the remote snowy mountains of somewhere to die horrifically. The horrific deaths come courtesy of a bunch of Nazi zombie soldiers that have been lying around under the snow since the second world war. The obligatory weird guy who turns up at the cabin once all the students are settled in and drinking tells them of a force of Einsatzgruppe – an SS death squad – that terrorised the area in the Second World War before an uprising of the locals chased them off into the mountains to freeze to death. Or not quite death as it turns out as they may still be roaming around picking off anybody daft enough to ski to the cottage rather than get the car with everybody else.

The guy leaves, apparently happy to peddle the bullshit to gullible tourists, but far too wise to believe it himself, and the students shrug it off and amuse themselves braving the
-10°C temperature to have sex in the outdoor toilet. After one of them has a dream that his zombie-chomped friend
was in the house, they look under the floorboards and find a box of gold and trinkets which the Nazis had stolen from the locals before their untimely demise, but unfortunately they remove some from the box. Apparently the zombies are based on the Scandinavian folk law tale of undead draugr protecting its stolen treasure – also used in the Elder Scrolls game Skyrim.

So, the zombies close in, people start being ripped apart, and it becomes a race back down to the cars. With chainsaws.

I really enjoyed this film, despite the watery plot which didn’t make much sense anyway when there were already ‘awake’ zombies killing people before the gold had been touched, because it’s got a sense of humour, and the students have a good stab at acting, even if the plot and dialogue doesn’t really require it. Plus, there’s gore. Loads of gore. Gore fountaining all over the pristine white landscape as zombie keep erupting out of nowhere and get hacked, bashed, axed, shot, run over with snowmobiles and minced with a chainsaw, sorry, forgot to add ‘hammered into a decapitated mess’ to that – whilst the students get chunks taken out of them and their heads ripped off because they made the classic mistake of smashing one zombie to pieces, and then turning round to grin at their mates without looking behind them to see if there were any more lurking under the snowdrifts. However, it’s so over the top, it’s hilarious, and setting the hacking and slashing to a gloriously rousing song makes it even better. See:

It’s quite short, it makes a mess, and you get to see somebody machine gunning zombies on a snowmobile – what is there not to like?