True genre fans know how to dig. True genre fans saw Let the Right One In upon its initial theatrical run, and didn’t seek it out on home video, or learn of its existence when America remade it. True genre fans gathered in groups to see cheesy Nazi-sploitation movies like Dead Snow and Iron Sky, caring more for content than for quality. True genre fans can identify the characteristics of a certain nations’ horror movies without even having to hear its native language spoken aloud; Italy is the easiest to spot. Australia too. True genre fans are savvy people.
This is an article for true genre fans.
NordicFantasy.info, a website devoted entirely to Scandinavian horror movies, has recently released a list of 68 upcoming genre flicks to come out of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway (also Finland and Iceland, which may only be dubiously Scandinavian) within the next year and a half. I have looked at this list, my dearest readers, and it’s pretty impressive. I have read all the synopses (culled through a lot of careful research, no doubt), and I have boiled it down to eleven essentials that sound the most twisted, the most fun, the most unusual, and the most bonkers. Scandinavia has produced some of the world’s finest cinema (do I even need to bring up Ingmar Bergman?), and some of the most challenging (Lars Von Trier and the others to come out of the Dogme 95 school are all worth a look). They’re also good at genre flicks, as Let the Right One In has perhaps codified.
Here, then, are 11 awesome-sounding genre films from the land of ski jumps, saunas, ice fishing, suicide, Kierkegaard, and really awful-sounding fish-based dishes. Note: Not all of these films are completed,
Release Date: 2015
Iceland is perhaps the home of the epic poetry form typically referred to as a “saga” by literary scholars. Some ambitious literature buffs have likely tried to tackle Nj?l’s Saga, penned perhaps sometime in the early 14th century. Filmmaker J?rn Steen has made a self-reflexive movie about the shooting of a Norwegian black metal music video. The video features a Viking who dies, is buried, and eventually returns from the dead as a zombie to stalk and kill the descendents of his killers. Seems pretty straightforward so far, with the appealing bonus of a zombie viking. Too few films feature vikings, and this is the first I can think of with a zombie viking.
A notable detail about Saga, however, that makes it even more interesting is that the filmmaker tapped his real-life black metal and biker buddies to help make it. A semi-documentary film about Norwegian black metal, zombies, bikers, starring the bassist of famed black metal band Darkthrone? I’m signing up immediately. This film will likely be the loudest ever made, nosing out the works of Zack Snyder entirely. Well, provided exhibitors turn it up to an appropriate level.
I just need to start buying up more black leather clothing.
2. Swedish Cults
Release Date: TBA
You wouldn’t think that the cult of H.P. Lovecraft has extended beyond enthused American boys who love fantastical literature, but this big-budget Swedish film proves otherwise. Inspired by the Cthulhu mythos, directors M?ns M?rlind and Bj?rn Stein (who made Underworld: Awakening) posit that certain famous real-life people – King Karl XI, August Strindberg, Hermann G?ring – were all involved in Cthulhu cults.
Lovecraft has rarely been successfully transferred to the big screen, only occasionally making for an interesting film (Stuart Gordon’s 1985 film Re-Animator may be the only “classic” Lovecraft adaptation). And while Sweden is far-removed from the creepy East-coast sensibilities of Rhode Island’s most infamous recluse, I’m always willing to see someone give Lovecraft the old Miskatonic try.
How does “Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!” sound with a Swedish accent?
3. Handling the Undead
Release Date: TBA
John Ajvide Lindqvist is the author behind Let the Right One In, famously adapted to film in 2008. Lindqvist’s subsequent novel was called Handling the Undead, and was essentially a post-apocalypse zombie story for bureaucrats. In the near future, all of Sweden’s dead begin returning in the form of zombies. It is not a plague, however, so much as an immigration nightmare for the country. How will the world react to the undead returning? How do you measure them on the census, for instance? Oh yes, and I should perhaps mention that Death is a character in the film, and he has assigned a psychic teenage girl to return the zombies to their graves.
Kristian Petri is attached to direct, although the film has not yet been made. There are rumors that Handling the Undead will slip from theaters, and run on television instead as either a miniseries or as an ongoing series. With the premise, it sounds like an ongoing TV show would work just fine, although a single film would wrap up the story for us. It promises to be more thoughtful than your average zombie film, looking more closely at death than at gore and mayhem.
Do you suppose the dead have human rights? Are dead humans still humans?
4. Bunny: The Killer Thing
Release Date: 2005
From Finland, this film has me sold on its title alone. Directed by Joonas Makkonen, Bunny: The Killer Thing is a horror film about, you guessed it, a killer rabbit monster. The set-up is a clich?d cabin-in-the-woods scenario replete with horny teens and mysterious party-crashers. From there, it’s all bunnies and blood. Not since Night of the Lepus was a film about rabbits so scary! And Night of the Lepus is actually not that scary!
The detail that has this killer rabbit-man film worthy of consideration, however, is the bizarre press-release addendum that the rabbit monster is “after anything that resembles female genitals.” So it’s a killer were-rabbit that wants to destroy vaginas? I like to consider myself pretty worldly, and that’s the first time I’ve seen that particular premise proposed for a movie. Vagina-eating rabbit-man slays Finns. Definitely points for originality. It also wants to slay anything that resembles female genitals. What resembles female genitals? Hm…
In America, I predict it will be remade as Gyno-Bunny.
5. Death Reserve
Release Date: TBA
This is a low-budget film, which spells apprehension for its high concept, but I have to note this film for it’s fun-sounding premise: It is 1945, and the Nazis have developed a platoon of creature soldiers called Necro Troopers. Zombies, vampires, and even possessed robots get to fight in the Nazi reserve. And guess who leads the Necro Troopers? None other than Count Dracula himself. This is already sounding better than Dracula Untold.
Ah, but the Allies also have their own weapons. The titular Death Reserve is a group of Allied soldiers specially trained in fighting monster squads. Amongst the Death Reserve are a sexy Frankenstein monster chick and a werewolf general. The director, someone calling himself Von Kreep, describes the film thus: “The Dirty Dozen meets horror in a highly stylized dieselpunk world in a visceral action packed blood bath.” Yeah. “way cool” doesn’t even begin to describe that. Oh yes, and the director swears that all the special effects will be practical.
Drink a lot before this one. It can only enhance the experience.
6. A Broken Line
Release Date: February 2015
Film and surrealism go together like cream and coffee. It’s been said that film resembles human dreams more than any other medium, so when a filmmaker breaks down the walls of story and sense, they are only doing cinema a service. I am very excited about A Broken Line, a surrealist film that is constructed almost entirely of sound. A visual medium made into an auditory hallucination? You have my attention.
The main character of A Broken Line – directed by Christian van Caine, and still in production – is equipped with his own video camera, and he is being stalked by creatures in a realm that is essentially Purgatory. Only he cannot see the creatures. He can only hear them. And every step he takes changes the landscape around him. He has a helper called merely The Companion, but he cannot see that one either. It sounds like Tarkovsky’s The Stalker by way of early David Lynch. This is not a bad thing.
Let’s just hope it’s more than a dull found-footage film.
7. American Burger
Release Date: October 17th
Shot in English, this Swedish send-up of America and American slasher movies looks amazing. A busload of American teenagers go on a tour of a Swedish slaughterhouse, which is employed by grinning, grotesquely happy butchers. Why are they so happy? Because the American Burgers they so gleefully serve are made from… wait for it… Americans!
Broad, blood-and-goop-soaked horror satire is always a fun genre to work within, having produced some cult classics (Parents, Society) along the way. American Burger, directed by Bonita Drake and Johan Bromander, promises to prick up the ears of all cannibalism fans out there (and I know you’re out there). Indeed, the film is so eager, a sequel is already planned.
8. Dyke Hard
Release Date: Winter 2015
Dyke Hard made its premiere at the Stockholm International Film Festival this year. It looks like a cross between John Waters’ interests, a mad lesbian’s action film fever dream, and the grungy underground punk rock sensibilities. And when was the last time we had a mainstream film that so cheerfully celebrates lesbians? But I’m a Cheerleader, maybe? The not-very-good D.E.B.S.?
The film is about a mid-’80s lesbian punk band that encounters, on their way to a battle of the bands, all manner of bizarre adversaries, including ninjas, ghosts, cyborgs and evil roller derby girls. The press release assures us that this will be a wonderful lesbian polemic. Although it was careful to appeal to the boy-loving boys as well. I quote: “but men-loving viewers need not worry; there will be plenty of poledancers, prison guards, cute bears and body builder ballet as well.” So it’s a cheap, cheesy, low-budget, queer action comedy full of gore, sex, and punk rock.
This will truly be the day the world turns day-glo.
9. Into the Town of Madness
Release Date: August 2015
That’s actually the preview for the 1995 John Carpenter film In the Mouth of Madness. I include it because 1) there was no online trailer for this Swedish horror movie, 2) this movie covers similar material and promises a similar tone, and 3) the titles are similar. This was a film that, as far as I can tell, was produced in 2000, and is only now getting a release in America. It is supposedly inspired heavily by the H.P. Lovecraft stories The Color Out of Space and The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
As I have said above, finding decent Lovecraft film adaptations are difficult, but it’s always nice to see someone give it a try. Eventually, we’ll have a great Lovecraft movie. Sweden might just be the place that great film comes from. And if it at all resembled In the Mouth of Madness (one of my favorite horror movies), then we’ll be in good shape.
Mouth of Madness. Town of Madness. Mountains of Madness. And yet no one had mentioned the band Madness.
10. Old Blood
Release Date: TBA
Dig this: When Van Helsing killed Dracula all those years ago, he started a quest to rid the world of vampires. He was successful. The world no longer has vampires. OR DOES IT? An ambitious nursing student takes a job looking after the elderly in the Norwegian Alps. It turns out, however, that this nursing home houses the world’s few remaining vampires, now all aged and decrepit. Of course the oldsters begin attacking our heroine, and she must fight them off.
Not since Troma’s Rabid Grannies have the elderly seemed so evil. Grumpy old retired vampires. That’s a new one. Vampires are typically seen as unaging and eternally sexy. Surely, though, vampires can also get very old and would require nursing care, right? This bizarre Finnish film (with one of the lowest budgets in history, from the looks of it) looks pretty trashy/cheap/spectacular, and most certainly original.
Do old vampires require false fangs?
Release Date: TBA
Lars Von Trier is at it again. Kristian Levring directs. We know nothing else…
Previously by Witney Seibold:
10 Reasons Why VCRs Are Better Than What We Have Now