After a foray into the studio system for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, writer/director Tommy Wirkola returns to the indie franchise that he made his name with in Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead. If you enjoyed the first film, you’ll love this one – it’s bigger and better in every way. And if you’re unfamiliar with the franchise I’d still suggest giving this one a whirl, it’s got some seriously f*cked up moments that will make you gasp and cringe (hopefully with delight).
I recently hopped on the phone with Wirkola and Martin Starr (Knocked Up, Silicon Valley) to talk about the film, its increased scope, and the demanding shooting conditions Starr had to endure. We also talk about the new direction Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 2 will be heading in. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead is currently in theaters and on VOD/iTunes. Read Perri’s review and hit the jump for the interview.
TOMMY WIRKOLA: It was a few things. It had been a while since the first one and seeing the reaction was fantastic. And after Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and going through the studio system and testing I thought it would be fun to do something on my own and go crazy again. So we wrote the sequel and thought it was something we really wanted to do so we got the gang back together and went to Iceland and shot it.
The film feels a lot bigger than the last one.
WIRKOLA: It does. We had three times the budget than the first one. And I knew that if I did a sequel I didn’t just want to do a bigger budget version of the first one, I really wanted to go new places. I knew I wanted zombie warfare, and the Hansel & Gretel experience helped us in that regard of course and then Martin came onboard and that helped too. It’s a lot bigger film than the first one for sure.
Martin, this isn’t the type of movie you’re typically known for.
MARTIN STARR: Right. You’re right. I just read the script and it was really well written and you could see the tone that they were going for. I could tell that it was going to be an interesting opportunity and I took advantage of it.
STARR: We just had a lot of fun to be perfectly honest. Usually I dread those moments of exposition but it never felt expositional, it always felt fun because you’re telling this ridiculous story so the details of that story are fun to tell. I just had a great time through and through.
And this movie is independently financed so you can’t have people telling you not to kill babies or old people.
STARR: Those are the worst notes to get.
WIRKOLA: We got a lot of money on pre-sales these days and we had private investors, luckily. Which meant the only people we had to discuss these things with were the producers in my company. The only time they discussed things with me, I think there were two things they brought up. One was the stroller gag and the ending actually. Because that was written a lot more explicitly than what was shot. And they were like, “are you sure we can do this?” And I said, “yes, of course.” You can do whatever you want if the tone is right.
Martin, what was the most difficult scene or gore gag for you to pull off?
STARR: The most difficult scene had little to do with the technicality of the script, it was more of the location and having to shoot in terrible weather. There was one night in particular that was just a walk and talk and I make comment on the movie itself as it’s happening and the weather was just terrible. The rain just kept coming down and it made it difficult to shoot and it was just incredibly cold.
WIRKOLA: We shot it in Iceland and it’s a tough environment to shoot in. The weather was awful, it was one of the worst seasons they’d had in forty years or something. It looks good on film though.
And Hansel & Gretel 2 you’re not directing, right? You’ve sort of taken yourself out of the running?
WIRKOLA: I wrote a script for it that I’m really happy with and the producers really love. And the studio is high on it and they want to shoot it next year. But I just did Dead Snow 2 and I don’t want to be doing sequels for the next few years. Also I just thought it was time to do something a little bit different, but the script is really cool and opens up a new world of Voodoo. So that’s the world where the sequel goes.
Nice, a little bit of Serpent and the Rainbow there?