THE VIOLENT SHIT COLLECTION Review (Synapse Films DVD)
Synapse Films has released a three-disc DVD set, what they’re labeling a shitition, of the German low-budget gorefest Violent Shit – including the trilogy of films along with the unofficial fourth movie and a special presentation of Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence. Below, find reviews of all of the films included in this Synapse collection; discussion of quality and extras will occur in the film reviews themselves.
Besides some "remastering," no real special features
Mediocre (being generous)
Synapse Films has done a great job collection the Violent Shit films and the related Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence. However, I'm not really sure who wants to own these films. I certainly don't, but I guess there's always a market for these types of movies.
The first film in Andreas Schnaas’ trilogy of gore-riddled films is also the roughest, a tour de force of horrible Video-8 effects and bloody but quite obviously rudimentary special effects. Violent Shit hit during a time of great censorship in Germany, one of the first wave of horror films that attempted to defy censorship and go the extra mile. Schnaas’ inspiration – and youth – ultimately led to a series of films that generated a lot of controversy, but his initial foray into horror filmmaking is anything but memorable.
Historically, Violent Shit has an interesting appeal, but actually watching the film leaves a lot to be desired. Schnaas’ low budget and amateurism is obvious, and it’s also clear that storyline was far less important to him than creating a film that got as offensive as possible. Violent Shit does not have a linear plot; in fact, it is nearly nothing more than a series of murders committed by an insane man named K. the Butcher Shitter (played by Schnaas) as he wanders around German countrysides committing the most senseless atrocities that country has seen. There’s very little dialogue and almost no pretext; the only thing clueing the viewer in to what’s going on are a couple of flashback scenes showing K. the Butcher Shitter’s childhood, and even those are esoteric to say the least.
But the lack of plot is the least of Violent Shit‘s issues. Its most annoying feature is the Video-8 footage, with scenes shot in disorienting slow motion with whatever camera effects were available. Blocky over-pixelated messes are generally what the murder scenes devolve into, and the film’s 73 minutes are made even longer because of Schnaas’ fascination with slow motion and endless scenes of characters driving.
The murder scenes are somewhat entertaining, though, simply because of their excessiveness. Schnaas gets about as offensive as possible: there are severed penises, there are chopped-off breasts, there’s a woman who is stabbed through the vagina in explicit detail (“explicit” in this case meaning pixelated and choppy) while her entrails are pulled through the opening. And throughout, there are gallons of squirted blood, over-the-top moments that actually take away from the film’s attempts to be edgy because they’re so unrealistic.
Violent Shit may be the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Its importance in the German horror scene is obviously significant, but for contemporary viewers watching the film for content alone, there’s almost nothing within the film to recommend. Instead, read Ted Geoghegan’s essay about the film included in this collection; it is much more interesting.
Synapse Films states that Violent Shit received a remaster by the film’s original producer for this collection, but that’s hard to imagine considering how awful the film looks. While that was clearly the intention, it’s difficult to specifically pinpoint how much “better” this looks on DVD. Still, it gets a nice 2.0 audio track that admittedly emphasizes the synth soundtrack.
Click next for the Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand review.
Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand
While Violent Shit certainly doesn’t instill much confidence in the rest of the trilogy, Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand is actually a much better film. That truly says something about the original, too, because this film is certainly not a groundbreaking achievement by any stretch of the imagination. Schnaas released Violent Shit II three years after his first feature, and although he’s clearly learned some things during the break between ventures, the picture quality actually seems to have gotten worse with time.
Still, no one should really judge the Violent Shit films on the basis of their video footage, and Violent Shit II manages to craft a more nuanced story. The film follows the exploits of Karl Jr., the heir to the violent throne – much like Karl the Butcher Shitter, he goes around killing everyone in sight with whatever elements he has at his disposal, but he’s goaded on by a malevolent mother who reads him pornography before bed and coaxes his murderous rage out of him.
Here, Schnaas draws on various elements for inspiration, Psycho being the most apparent; however, the element that surprises most is the documentary-style wrap-around story, because the tale of Karl Jr. and his mother is being explained to the film’s protagonist/journalist. While this doesn’t end up making a big difference to the film’s overall storyline – in fact, it has no bearing whatsoever – it does lend the film’s grittiness some realism, since it’s more or less a story that the protagonist can’t technically verify.
Adding to the enjoyment level is Schnaas’ improved special effects and creativity. The film’s opening finds Schnaas shooting a martial arts scene that, while certainly not technically proficient, is still impressive. The gore effects are more over-the-top and skillful than the first film, and Schnaas was even able to find a woman who consented for a full nude scene in pretty much full detail.
Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand is still a difficult watch, but it’s a huge step forward for the series. This is bigger and better in nearly every way, with a more defined plot and a tendency to emphasize the film’s obviously cheesy ideas. For those who had fun with the first film, the same audience will be doubly impressed with this sequel.
Click next for the Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom review.
Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom
Like Violent Shit II, Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom is another improvement over the previous films in the series. Schnaas’ storyline, while somewhat difficult to parse, is at least an enjoyably creative endeavor, drawing from island cannibal features and kung fu flicks to create a weird hybrid feature about Karl and Karl Jr. again butchering lots of people, except this time with the help of a group of like-minded individuals who have created a tribe on a deserted island.
There’s a lot going on within the world of Violent Shit III, but it basically boils down to the same ideas as the first two films: the Butchers kill people in outlandish ways – this time with lots of machetes – and a group of people stuck on the island have to find a way out. Schnaas doesn’t define the butcher group or attempt to explore its societal structure; instead, he introduces it in a very long half-hour exposition drop, then allots the rest of the film to focus on kill after bloody kill.
That means that the film is very back-loaded; Violent Shit III never really kicks into gear until the first 45 minutes are out of the way, spending far too much time on long monologues from the Butchers. Still, once things get going, it’s a bloodbath: there’s a lot of gore, and truthfully Schnaas has learned a lot about practical effects since the first film. Violent Shit III effectively imitates the gory films that inspire it, and it’s probably the most adept film in the series.
The final fifteen minutes are filled with kills that, while nonsensical, are actually pretty fun. That’s mostly because Schnaas ditches realism in favor of an elaborate fight sequence stolen from kung fu movies that involves killer ninjas. Zombies also make an appearance, although their presence isn’t necessary and probably only included to relate to Schnaas’ other film Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence.
Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom ends the Violent Shit series on a high note. Although it’s over-the-top and extremely bloody, it’s not as effective as the second film, but it does manage to move the series in an interesting direction. Contemporary viewers will probably find Infantry of Doom to be the most enjoyable movie in the original trilogy.
Click next for the Violent Shit 4.0: Karl the Butcher vs. Axe review.
Violent Shit 4.0: Karl the Butcher vs. Axe
To be quite honest, Violent Shit 4.0: Karl the Butcher vs. Axe is a different kind of bad than its original predecessor Violent Shit (and this is technically not part of the trilogy, but a crossover between Andreas Schnaas and co-director Timo Rose). Instead of lacking a plot or any semblance of direction, Karl the Butcher vs. Axe actually features a robust storyline following multiple gangs surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, fighting for territory and duking it out after Karl the Butcher comes back from Hell to battle his nemesis Axe; however, the film’s dialogue and acting are brutal, making it almost worse than Schnaas’ original no-budget gorefest.
The film’s script is simply the worst; it eschews the usual over-the-top insanity of the previous Violent Shit films for a plot that’s bogged down by exposition, video game-style introductory sequences for its characters, and an overall confusing motivation for the two antiheroes. Schnaas and Rose show some creativity in their different gang groups; the women drink sperm while the guys… sport Nazi paraphernalia and arm-wrestle, I guess. But all of it is poorly executed, and no central storyline comes together in the end besides endless scenes of guys shooting other guys or cutting each other apart with machetes.
It’s hard to imagine getting bored with bloody decapitations, but Karl the Butcher vs. Axe is so laden down with the same old special effects that the gags get old fast. Really fast. And it doesn’t help that almost no one in the film can act,especially when the female group is around; it’s truly a painful experience that evokes almost no entertainment value.
When you think no-budget schlock, Karl the Butcher vs. Axe hits that description to a T.
Vague Nazi references? ✓
Bad actresses getting naked? ✓
Horrible CGI greenscreens? ✓
Bad heavy metal music? ✓
Skip this one at all costs.
Click next for the Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence review.
Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence
Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence is basically the zombie version of Violent Shit. Andreas Schnaas replaces Karl the Butcher with the flesh-eating undead and gets almost exactly the same result – a plot-less gore bonanza that is fun for a few moments before it becomes clear that Schnaas is copying the same special effects and ideas from his previous film.
That means there’s a vaginal dissection scene, there’s a bitten off penis; the same extremism at play in Violent Shit is present in Zombie ’90 as well, only this time Schnaas is inspired by the nasty cannibal films of the ’80s. While some of the film’s work is impressive – and at times, it partially has a plot as one doctor attempts to combat the zombie outbreak – the similarities to Violent Shit are too close to ignore.
This bonus disc from Synapse Films also has the distinction of an English audio track, although I’d rather hear it in the original German. The dubbing is downright awful and I will say that the voices certainly do not match their intended characters. This disc also comes with some vintage premiere behind-the-scenes footage, if you’re looking for that.
While it’s nice that Synapse wanted to give The Violent Shit Collection a hearty release, Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence seems like overkill, or perhaps I was just drained by the whole experience.
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