Monday, April 27, 2015

The Tragic Story of Sidekick Zombie

            Fair warning: this isn’t going to be a very scholarly analysis of the ending to Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead (Død snø 2), but it does focus on a question that popped into my mind during the final scene of that movie. To give a little background, the film is a Norwegian horror comedy directed by Tommy Wirkola, and it is a sequel to Dead Snow (Død snø). The original starts off with an Evil Dead feel when a group of seven friends head off to an isolated cabin in the mountains of Øksfjord for an Easter vacation chock-full of drinking, laughing, and having fun before a hoard of Nazi zombies show up.
            In the original film, a hiker knocks on the cabin’s door, and the group pauses from their merrymaking to answer it. The hiker once inside, out of the cold, sips his coffee and tells the seven students about a battalion of Nazis led by Standartenfürer Herzog that occupied the region during WWII. The Nazis abused, pillaged, and murdered many of the citizens of Øksfjord during their occupation of the village, but the citizens fought back. At the end of the war, the villagers of Øksfjord turned on Herzog and his Nazi troops chasing them into the mountains, and the assumption was that the Nazis froze to death in the snowy, frigid clime, and that was that.
            The students, in true horror trope style, shrug off the crazy hiker’s story, and continue on with their Easter vaca, but, of course, it turns out that the students should have heeded said warning. The Nazis end up terrorizing the students, after the seven friends find a small chest full of Nazi gold, and one by one, each member of the group is torn apart, quite literally, by Herzog and his undead troops, except for one. Martin is the sole survivor of the massacre. He is able to return the gold to Herzog—after going through a living nightmare in which he was forced to auto-amputate his right arm with a chainsaw after being bitten by a zombie—by the film’s end, and he is free to go. However, when Martin gets to his car and is about to leave, it turns out that he still has a single piece of Nazi gold in his pocket, which doesn’t bode well for Martin. The film ends with Herzog suddenly appearing outside the car’s driver side window, and he punches through the glass. That is when the credits roll.
            The sequel picks up immediately after the events of the first film. Herzog is fighting to get inside of Martin’s car, and in the ensuing struggle, Herzog loses his arm; subsequently, Martin crashes the car. Martin wakes up in a hospital to discover that he now has two arms again; however, one of them is Herzog’s. Martin soon realizes that his new zombie arm has endowed him with super-human strength, in his right arm at least, and the ability to reanimate dead bodies into zombie minions. If you’ve seen Idle Hands, a similar thing is working in Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead. The big difference being that Martin can create zombies.
            Kristoffer Joner plays one such zombie minion known simply as Sidekick Zombie. In life, pre-Sidekick Zombie arrives at a war museum as a part of some group outing. Uber-excited for his day at the museum, pre-Sidekick Zombie wheels himself off the charter bus, giving a double-pumped thumbs up to the bus driver as he rolls past the bus's cockpit, and soon finds himself in the path of the Nazi zombies, who have descended on the museum in order to obtain various artifacts from the war.
            Sidekick Zombie doesn’t survive the zombie blitzkrieg, and Martin, who happens to be hiding in the museum, finds the open-eyed, lifeless body of his soon to be sidekick. In an act of sympathy, Martin kneels down and closes the eyelids with his zombie hand. That touch is all that is needed to reanimate the dead body into Sidekick Zombie, an act that scares the living bejeebus out of Martin. Martin ends up karate chopping Sidekick Zombie in the head with his super-powered zombie hand, which, as we all probably know, is a sure fire way to dispatch of the living dead. Confused, amazed, or just curious, Martin reaches down and places his hand on the deader zombie corpse, so, yet again, Sidekick Zombie reanimates for the second time.
            This is the basic shtick for Sidekick Zombie throughout Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead. He dies horrible deaths that make the creators of South Park look like amateurs w/r/t Kenny; then, he is reanimated. A total of five times in fact. In addition to the off-screen first death and Martin’s blunt bonk to his head, Sidekick Zombie takes a tomahawking hatchet to the right eye, is used as traction to unstick a car mired in the mud (destroying S. Z.’s crotch and the rest of the right side of his face), and is finally caught under the treads of Herzog’s panzer. Here’s a before and after to help capture what words can’t describe adequately:

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            The second picture shows Sidekick Zombie in the final moments of the film (I couldn’t find a picture without the green screen hand and foot, sorry). Once the dust has settled after the final battle between Martin and Herzog, Martin goes to the cemetery where his dead girlfriend, Hanna, is buried. Martin digs up the corpse of Hanna and reanimates her. A pretty gnarly make-out session ensues, and, one thing leading to another, Martin and Hanna make their way to the back seat of a Jeep Cherokee for a necrophilic-quickie. As Martin and Hanna test the durability of the Jeep’s shocks, Sidekick Zombie hobbles down the road towards them. He sees them. He stops. He smiles, makes some happy gurgling sounds, and cries—it's possible that "oozes" is the more apt verb—a bit as well. Sidekick Zombie is truly happy for Martin, or is he?

            Sidekick Zombie is probably just truly excited that his master has reunited with his lost love, but in my mind, this was a heartbreaking ending. Sidekick Zombie saw that a dead girl could find love, and quite possibly thought he could also. The problem is he doesn’t know the history between the dreadlocked Hanna and Martin. The poor, sweet Sidekick Zombie is doomed to be alone until he experiences his sixth death, and Martin, hopefully, finally allows his Sidekick Zombie to be at peace by foregoing a sixth resurrection. Like I said at the outset, this isn’t some big scholarly or academic notion, but merely some brain dropping I had at the film’s end.

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