The Violent Shit Collection DVD Review
Written by ZigZag
DVD released by Synapse Films
Written and directed by Andreas Schnaas
1989/ 1992/ 1999/ 2010, 380 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on April 11th, 2017
Andreas Schnaas as Karl the Butcher
In 1989, writer/ director Andreas Schnaas released the underground hit Violent Shit, a shot-on-video (SOV) gorefest that didn’t rely so much on plot or character as it did on bloody violence. The filmmaking is not technically proficient, as both audio and video elements are lacking and the direction amateurish. The nutshell plot summary is pretty simple: Karl the Butcher escapes police custody into the woods where he kills anyone that crosses his path. The murders are not enough, for Karl dismembers and violates the corpses of his victims too. Shock value is the order of the day, but the make-up effects are lacking--blood is frequently thin and pink and shoots from wounds with the pressure of a firehose. Despite some choppy editing and all the aforementioned shortfalls, Schnaas’ infectious enthusiasm shines through. He gives this picture everything he’s got and manages to make the thing entertaining in a macabre and slapstick way.
Violent Shit II (1992) continues the story twenty years later as we follow the exploits of Karl the Butcher Junior, a man determined to carry on his father’s legacy. When his mother gifts him a shiny machete, the killing spree begins anew. For the majority of the running time, victims are frequently introduced and executed in the same scene before getting a character name. A framing device in which a reporter is trying to get the scoop on what could be a series of copycat killings around the city proves relatively worthless. The moments with Karl’s mother are a delightful source of levity in an otherwise bleak film. These sequences are peppered throughout and qualify the picture as a dark comedy. The acting, writing and direction are all still lacking, but the bonkers presentation leaves nothing in the box. The stars once again are the make-up effects and this time there are quite a few gags that actually look pretty good.
Schnaas took a break from the legend of Karl the Butcher for a few years, before returning to complete the trilogy with Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom (aka Zombie Doom) (1999). Things have changed in the mythology and now Karl the Butcher Sr. is alive and well and working alongside his son Karl Jr. assembling an army of killers on a remote island. A wacky Nazi doctor conducts experiments for them to make an unstoppable zombie army to destroy the human race. Meanwhile, three friends have been shipwrecked on the island and taken hostage by the soldiers. Karl and his father invite the trio to play a game – a most dangerous game, giving them a 24-hour head start before releasing the army to hunt them down. Our would-be heroes team up with a group of disgruntled ninja warriors and soon an epic battle is underway. Schnaas does not show any growth as a filmmaker, as all the faults of the previous films remain on display here. This film at least attempts character development in that many of the victims have at least dialogue if not names.
Everyone knows great trilogies come in threes, so a decade later Schnaas returns to the well for a fourth chapter, Violent Shit 4.0: Karl vs. Axe (2010). There’s still not a lot of improvement on either side of the camera, but this time the story is a bit more ambitious and the comedy even more up front. In the not too distant future, violent gangs rule a dystopian world of misery. A new killer named Axe is on track to surpass the Butcher’s record number of kills and this upsets the balance of things in Hell. Demons agree to return Karl to Earth to defend his legacy and take down this newcomer. The mythology is so muddled this time around that I won’t even attempt to explain it, but as a self-contained story it works to some extent. Schnaas wastes a lot of time with bickering gang members and internal battles and power grabs before finally getting to the titular showdown. Things get rather predictable, but if I’ve learned anything from the previous entries, people aren’t tuning in for the plot or story. Violent Shit 4.0 has plenty of the wet stuff to satisfy low-budget genre fans, as Schnaas’ determination to shock remains intact. Unlike the rest of the franchise, this entry was shot in English and co-directed by Timo Rose (Mutation).
The Violent Shit Collection is a nice addition to the library of any self-respecting gorehound and German underground aficionados will definitely want to check it out. Despite the numerous shortcomings, Andreas Schnaas delivers more than a few shocking moments in each entry of his ultra-violent franchise. He’s not too big on story, logic or consistency, but he is a showman at heart and in that he succeeds.
Video and Audio:
Violent Shit and Violent Shit 4.0 are presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, while Violent Shit II and III arrive in their original 2.35:1. Synapse Films makes the most of the limited picture quality as the original trilogy was shot on Digital-8 analog tape. Part 4 looks the best of the series, as it is obviously the most recent and was shot with an HD camera. Until now you could only get these titles via muddy bootleg. Here, the first three films are given a proper transfer sourced from the original 1” tape masters. Image quality is still lacking, but it’s a tremendous step up from what was previously available.
All four movies arrive with a Dolby Digital stereo 2.0 mix, the first three in German with optional English subtitles. Despite being sourced from the original tape masters, these audio tracks are never going to be confused with reference quality, especially the first film in the series. The fourth entry sounds a little better due to advances in technology but the entire franchise would benefit from a dedicated sound man. The dialogue is generally clean and free from distortion, but will not set your hair on fire.
There are only a handful of special features in this set, but what we do get is pretty awesome. The original trilogy arrives bare bones, but the bonus disc includes the Andreas Schnaas film Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence (1991). The film’s English language dub is infamously hilarious, as the voices involved in no way match their physical counterparts. Wacky sound effects and comedic delivery make this otherwise bland filler definitely worth checking out. I like this film more than some of the entries in the Violent Shit franchise.
This disc also offers supplemental goodies for Violent Shit 4.0, starting with a behind the scenes featurette (10 minutes) that showcases many of the murder set-pieces.
Coverage of the German premiere (16 minutes) has also been included for your viewing pleasure.
A teaser and the original trailer for Violent Shit 4.0 are also on display.