Monday, May 8, 2017

THE VIOLENT SHIT COLLECTION (1989-2010) FIVE FILM COLLECTOR'S SHITITION (DVD Review)

THE VIOLENT SHIT COLLECTION (1989-2010)
FIVE FILM COLLECTOR'S SHITITION (3-DISC SET)  
AKA THE BIG BOX OF SHIT

Label: Synapse Films 

Region Code: Region-FREE (NTSC)
Duration: 380 Minutes
Audio: German Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles, English Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1),(2.35:1), Fullscreen (1.33:1) 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Karl Inger, Gabi Bäzner, Wolfgang Hinz, Steve Aquilina, Andreas Schnaas,  Anke Prothmann, Claudia von Bihl, Marc Trinkhaus, Uwe Grüntjes, Winni Holl, Matthias Kerl, Timo Rose, Magdalèna Kalley, Eileen Daly, Eleanor James, Marysia Kay, Ralf Hess, Mathias Abbes

Synopsis: In 1980s Germany, horror film censorship was a huge problem. The government rarely let classic horror films pass without severe cuts when they were released on home video. To combat this unfortunate situation, many German horror fans scraped together a few bucks, rented video cameras and created their own ultra-violent, gory, splatter film epics. Arguably the most famous of these micro-budget German gore fests are the VIOLENT SHIT films from director Andreas Schnaas. Shot on standard definition video cameras, these films are a sight to behold. Although they are amateurishly made, choppily edited and loaded with ridiculous low-budget gore, these films have an undeniably offensive charm that has kept horror fans entertained for over 25 years!


America, your long wait is now finally over, a legit release of the lo-fi German gore films that are THE VIOLENT SHIT movies is now available from Synapse Films! Germany has a deep history of gore-soaked 80s cinema from the likes of  Jörg Buttgereit (Nekromantik, Schramm) and the SOV weirdness of Olaf Ittenbach (The Burning Moon, Black Past), but maybe, like me, you are not so familiar with the infamous works of director Andreas Schnaas, a man, who in my estimations, lacks the talent of either of those other two guys, but who's love for gore and determination brought us four entries in the Violent Shit saga, and let me tell you that Violent Shit is an apt title for these films, they're uber-violent and all utter pieces of shit! 


VIOLENT SHIT (1989) 

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 73 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital German 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Karl Inger, Gabi Bäzner, Wolfgang Hinz, Steve Aquilina, Andreas Schnaas

Synopsis: The legend of “K. the Butcher Shitter” is born in this German DIY video roughie, shot on the low-fi Video-8 format. A demented killer escapes the police and leaves a trail of blood and gore in his wake. Newly re-mastered by the film’s original producer.

The first film is rough, not that the others that would follow are stupendous by any means, but it does hold a special place as Germany's first SOV horror movie, Meet Karl (Karl Inger), aka  "K the Butcher Shitter,", a bloodthirsty nutjob sent to prison for hacking his mum to death with a meat cleaver. He escapes while being transported (in a green Volkswagen bus with plaid interior!) and goes on a wild and bloody string of carnage, and the lo-fi gore is glorious, but the plot is pointless, but please stay for the gore you won't be too disappointed.


Escaping the bus he finds a new cleaver and begins a new rampage through the woods, no one is safe. Karl also seems to be suffering from an unexplained flesh-eating disease, which grows more severe throughout the film.  The gore is fun in a lo-fi, splattery DIY sort of way; intestines are spewn and limbs are hacked away most viciously.


Shot on '89 era consumer grade home video the movie looks like a piece of piece of violent shit complete with awful video effects. The editing is as rough as the dismemberments and then there's the cheesy synth score, which I actually liked, it added a weird VHS-acid trip sort of loveliness to the SOV proceedings, particularly to that disemboweling of Christ scene. 


VIOLENT SHIT II: MOTHER HOLD MY HAND (1992) 

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 74 minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital German 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Anke Prothmann, Andreas Schnaas, Claudia von Bihl

Synopsis: Set twenty years after the original film, Karl the Butcher Jr. continues his late father’s legacy. After receiving a machete as a birthday gift from his mother, Karl Jr. turns into a maniacal killer slashing, chopping, shooting and disemboweling his way through the German countryside. Newly re-mastered by the film’s original producer.


A few years after the first film director Andreas Schnaas assembled a sequel, one that takes place twenty years after the first film with a warring faction of German gangsters and Yakuza battling one another when a deal turns sour, the fight is interrupted by the cleaving wielding Karl the Butcher Jr, now played by director Andreas Schnaas, who lays waste to them all. The addition of some low-rent and poorly choreographed karate speaks to the inept aspirations of the director, adding another layer of moldy cheese to the already creamy stew of lo-fi weirdness. 


The movie then turns into a documentary of sorts as a journalist interviews members of the community who speak about the legend of Karl the Butcher, while he investigates what looks to be a series of copycat murders, but what we know to be the work of his son, at the behest of his crazy mother, who encourages her son to continue his father's bloody work, the old age makeup of the mother is real-bad, too. There are some weird flashback sequences to her burying the original Karl. This one amps up the gore and the ick-factor with Karl pulling a bloody tampon from the vagina of a victim before stapling her orifice shut while his mother cheers him on in the background, so weird and if you're a lo-fi gore-nut, so awesome. 


Again, the video source and editing are hard to watch, but just on a ridiculous homemade horror level I found this fun to watch. This one is notable for being the film that gave the Butcher his iconic metal-grated mask, and for amping up the nudity with a sun-tanning and bath scene that goes on FOREVER before the inevitable death. 


VIOLENT SHIT III: INFANTRY OF DOOM (aka ZOMBIE DOOM)(1999) 

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 79 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital German 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Andreas Schnaas, Marc Trinkhaus, Uwe Grüntjes, Winni Holl, Matthias Kerl

Synopsis: A group of friends get lost at sea and land on a remote island, but they are not alone! Captured by Karl the Butcher Jr. and his father, these men are subjected to a sadistic version of “The Most Dangerous Game” brought on by the Butcher Shitters and their army of metal-masked killers! Newly re-mastered by the film’s original producer. 


Throwing continuity right out the window we have the third entry in the series, which features three men lost at sea who end up on an island run by Karl the Butcher (Trinkhaus) and his son Karl Jr. (Schnaas). They release the three men onto the island in a Most Dangerous Game sort of way, again speaking to director's inept need to expand on the original premise, the guy has aspirations, but not much talent. The men team-up with a group of rebel ninjas on the island who are out to stop the Butchers, who themselves have also teamed-up with a mad scientist hell bent on creating a horde of zombie soldiers! Damn, this one is loaded with weird action and loads of gore, the mad scientist butchering corpses for his research, and a face-pulling scene that brought to mind both Cannibal Ferox and Hellraiser, which was by several measures my favorite gore scene in the film.  Of course there's more oddball kung-fu, poor editing and loads of poor man's bloodshed. Notably, this one has the most polished credits sequence of the first three films, so that's something. 


VIOLENT SHIT 4.0: KARL THE BUTCHER VS. AXE (2010)

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 78 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital German 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles
Directors: Andreas Schnaas, Timo Rose
Cast: Andreas Schnaas, Timo Rose, Magdalèna Kalley, Eileen Daly, Eleanor James, Marysia Kay

Synopsis: The year is 2023, and the world has become a desolate wasteland with gangs taking over the streets. Karl the Butcher Jr. returns from the bowels of Hell, on a mission to kill a new mass murderer named Axe. Original English Language Version.


In the fourth and final entry of the Schnaas directed Violent Shit films, we open with Karl the Butcher living in down in the bowels of Hell, sent back to the land of the living by none other than Old Scratch himself to challenge a new killer, the Axe, who threatens to steal the Butcher's title. Shot on digital video this is by far the best looking of the movie is the collection. 


Set in the postapocalyptic future of 2023 we have warring factions that feel very Road Warrior esque.  One of the opening scenes has a group of women lead by a queen surrounding a nude man in a chair, there's a hose attached to is junk which is attached to a pump, labeled "sperm separator", the queen is sucking cum out of the other end like some weird cum-dispensing hookah, babbling about only wanting female babies.  Seemingly displeased with his sperm she orders him killed, ripping his junk off he bleeds to death.


The other films were hard to follow, and this one's not much different, while it looks better than what came before the gore is toned way down, there's far less splatter throughout, and that's unfortunate, because really you're only watching these movies for the ridiculous gore,  so without that it ends up being a bit of a yawner. Another oddity of this one is that Karl has these weird fake-muscled arms which are hilariously bad, not sure what that was about, but as where each of the previous films seemed to showcase Schnaas' inept attempt at pushing his boundaries a no-budget filmmaker, this time he moved the ramps right up to the shark tank, and failed. 


ZOMBIE ’90: EXTREME PESTILENCE (1991) 
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 76 Minutes
Video: Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Optional english Subtitles 
Director: Andreas Schnaas
Cast: Matthias Kerl, Ralf Hess, Mathias Abbes

Synopsis: Shot for a reported $2000 between the filming of VIOLENT SHIT 1 and VIOLENT SIT 2, ZOMBIE ’90: EXTREME PESTILENCE follows two bumbling doctors as they investigate a zombie outbreak. After a military plane crash releases strange chemicals into the German countryside, the dead rise to attack the living! Can they be stopped? Transferred from an original PAL 1” master given to Synapse by Cinematographer Steve Aquilina.


This is a nice bonus on the set, a zombie film shot by Schnaas in between the making of Violent Shit and the sequel, sort of riffing on Fulci's Zombi but with only a fraction the budget, and an eight the talent, of a Bruno Mattei production, but it is loaded with no-budget gore, atrocious dialogue ("I'm gonna run this motherfucker's dick over"), plenty of cheap gut-munching and one of the worst English dubs ever, it sounded at times like Bobby Rhodes' from Lamberto Bava's  Demons (1985) was doing the dubbing, it doesn't fit the movie at all and that's sort of why I love it. 


Audio/Video: The Violent Shit Collection 3-disc set arrives in the U.S. from Synapse Films looking a expectedly cruddy, however, these have been "newly re-mastered by the film’s original producer" and re-framed in anamorphic widescreen, with the first and fourth films framed at 1.78, the second and third films re framed in scope 2.35:1. As the saying goes, you can't polish a turd and the same goes for a Violent Shit, they will only ever look so good, and truth be told they will never look good. Violent shit 1 and 2 share disc one, 3 and 4 share disc two, there are no extras on either disc, just a choice of subtitles. 


Disc three  houses a bonus film, the Italian zombie knock-off Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence, plus the extras, which include  the bonus film Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence (1991), plus extras for Violent Shit 4.0, which honestly don't amount to much of anything. The most substantial and informative extra comes by way of liner notes from writer/director Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) which place the film in context of German censorship and the burgeoning SOV scene.  


Special Features: 

- A Special BONUS DVD, including the English dub version of ZOMBIE ’90: EXTREME PESTILENCE
- The first three VIOLENT SHIT films, remastered by the original owners, plus VIOLENT SHIT 4.0: KARL THE BUTCHER VS. AXE

- Liner notes from Ted Geoghegan (Screenwriter of NIKOS THE IMPALER, and Writer/Director of WE ARE STILL HERE)
- VIOLENT SHIT 4.0: KARL THE BUTCHER VS. AXE Trailer (2 min) 
- VIOLENT SHIT 4.0: KARL THE BUTCHER VS. AXE Teaser(2 min) 
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage (10 min) 
- Premiere Footage (16 min) 

The Violent Shit Collection from Synapse Films is sure to please fans of the seminal SOV gore series, while I think the movies are exactly what the title implies, with the emphasis on shit, this is an attractively packaged set, and I love that Synapse seem to be having fun with how awful these movies are with the packaging, advertising this as a "collector's shitition" and a "big box of shit", just the artwork alone for this release has more production value than all four films combined. Not a fan of the movies, a real shit fest, but gotta love Andreas Schnaas's determination.  2/5


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