Apparently Germany in the 1980s wasn’t a good time to be a horror fan. Most of the films you’d have wanted to see were either not released or got edited really bad to the point where enjoyment was gone. There was a revolt as many fans would get together and make their own movies at home and try to feature over the top and ridiculous gore that would set those censors going crazy if they were ever to get their hands on it. The most famous and popular of that bunch are The Violent Shit movies featuring Karl the Butcher. These films are now seeing their first official release in the United States courtesy of Synapse Films. Before you cry out as to this release being a DVD, you should know that these were shot on a VHS camcorder. The format is fitting enough for these movies. They’ll be available for purchase April 11th.
The legend of “K. the Butcher Shitter” is born in this German DIY roughie, shot on low-fi Video 8 format. A demented killer escapes the police and leaves a trail of blood and gore in his wake. Is a satanic presence behind his transformation into a murderous psychopath?
There is not much to say with this (Or any) of these Violent Shit movies. All this one tells, is a random stranger will show up, go to the woods and then be murdered brutally by a redneck with a big meat cleaver. Rinse and repeat. Basically this is an effects reel that just is concerned with showing those off. Some of it is impressive, some you can see the strings very easily. Its got a neat little throwback feel to it that wears off quickly.
What it ultimately comes down to, is this movie is boring as hell. Its barely over 70 minutes and feels like a damn eternity. I was trying to think of who in the heck would care for such a thing. My only assumption is that the time for this to be any bit interesting has beyond passed. This may have been a cool thing to acquire as a bootleg if you were a young hardcore horror junkie in the late 80s or early 90s and wanted to get as extreme with your gore as you could. But, we’ve also moved from then, have better formats and have effects like this every week on The Walking Dead (If less genitally crude). So, what it leads down to is the story, and well, frankly, there is none and what you have is insanely boring.
Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand
Set 20 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.
After a quick laugh that our killer is now named after a fast food chain, things get back to being the same old same old. This one starts off wild, with a martial arts opener, but don’t let it fool you. We get back to business as usual rather quickly. Similar effects are used and this is really another demo reel.
For the second part, they’ve added a mother character, which completely negates or contradicts the completely absurd ending of the first one. Oh well, not sure anyone is going to care. But, this is just more of the same, which is another 70 minute movie that feels like triple that runtime. This one has a bit more energy and is filmed better than the previous one, but its more the same and still not enjoyable.
Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom
A group of friends get lost at sea and land on a remote island, but they are not alone! Capture 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!
“Hey look, something is happening” is right! In this third film, they flirt with trying to have some semblance of a plot, but this still doesn’t work as no characters are likable and it just gets boring really fast. The film does end in a big battle, but they start chickening out on some of the blood and it just doesn’t overall work very well.
Some of the effects in this one do start to become eye opening once again. I was particularly delighted with a moment where skin rips off this face and reveals the skull. However, that is just a mere couple seconds of a movie that I was struggling to keep up with and just eager anticipating its finish.
Violent Shit 4.0: Karl the Butcher Vs. Axe
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.
Well, I suppose this is the most competent of the films in this series, but man, there’s just so much dumb stuff to turn you off. It feels like a modern Corman movie in terms of trying to screw around too much. Bloodshed also still very prevalent but it felt like the original movies were much more experimental and successful with the surprising gore. You do get a cast that isn’t just a bunch of dudes, though. Still can’t escape the woods setting, but hey, its how cheap is done.
Is this the final film of Karl the Butcher ever? Well, I think he’s appeared in a couple non-Violent Shit movies, but here’s hoping he’s hung it up. There’s his nemesis Axe in this, and he’s just as dull and boring. Some solid kills and exploitative titilation in this film. And while it looks and sounds light years better than the first three films, don’t let it fool you, its just as bad.
Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence
Two bumbling doctors 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?
This film is presented as a bonus feature on this release. They shot it between the first two Violent Shit movies. I guess its my favorite of the films, cuz its super dopey. This is a zombie film on no budget. But, they made a weird decision to dub it with really off and not matching voices to whoever is doing the talking. It also features similar crudeness and gore just like Violent Shit. This is one you could probably watch with the right person and maybe have a decent time.
Violent Shit II
Violent Shit III
Violent Shit 4.0
Encoding: MPEG-2 NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 (Violent Shit & Violent Shit 4.0), 2.35:1 (Violent Shit 2 & 3), 1.33:1 (Zombie ’90)
Clarity/Detail: Well, they were shot on VHS and the footage run over and over and it shows. These really look like home movies or ones you would have shot in high school. As much as may have been done to these for the release, they still look like crap. The fourth film was shot digitally (I think) and fares decently, though it could look much better itself. Look at the pictures I’ve capture from this. Know what you’re getting into before this. Its straight up late 80s/early 90s camdcorder VHS video.
Depth: No surprise, these all appear very flat images. Movements can be jittered and blurred.
Black Levels: Blacks are deep in the fourth film and consuming. The other films feature black and it can get a little bit blocky at many instances.
Color Reproduction: Everything is washed out and not much color really exudes in these. Sure, red is red, but its pretty flat. The fourth movie features some stronger reds to go along with yellows and greens.
Flesh Tones: Skin tones flicker and shift on the VHS movies. Detail isn’t really apparent at all as the format doesn’t really allow. The fourth film fares better, with close ups showing hints of make-up and facial textures.
Noise/Artifacts: Where to begin. There are noise problems and lots analog issues on the VHS-shot movies. The fourth film has its share of noise as well as blocking and artifacts in places.
Violent Shit II
Violent Shit III
Violent Shit 4.0
Audio Format(s): German 2.0 Stereo, English 2.0 Stereo (Violent Shit 4.0)
Subtitles: English (No subtitles for Violent Shit 4.o)
Dynamics: Well, these sound like they look. The fourth one is fine, if not a little bit too bass-y. These sound like a tape with analog distortions and issues you’d come across. Lowered expectations, if you didn’t already assume that from knowing the source.
Low Frequency Extension: N/A
Surround Sound Presentation: N/A
Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are audible, but they’re speaking German and it also sounds pretty crappy, too. It is what it is and the folks at Synapse should be commended for doing what they could.
The Violent Shit Collection is a 3-disc DVD set. Disc 3 is the “Bonus Disc” and features Zombie ’90 as well as the bonus features for the collection. There is also an insert featuring an essay by Ted Geoghegan (Director of We Are Still Here). All of the bonus material is for Violent Shit 4.0.
Premiere Footage (SD, 16:22) – This is mainly two musical acts performing at what I’m guessing is the premiere. They are playing in a theater. One of them has a myspace page URL pop on the screen in case any is still using MySpace.
Teaser (SD, 1:30)
Trailer (SD, 1:34)
Behind the Scenes (SD, 10:24) – Some raw, onset footage featuring alternate takes and people giving some asides to the camera.
The Violent Shit Collection was a damn exercise in testing some of my patience. There was really no enjoyment value out of it. The enjoyment I did get was watching that I was able to watch them not alone, but with the cohost of my podcast. These DVDs were put together best they could be, but they all look and sounds as best as you can make a crummy VHS to do. I don’t know who likes these or would want to put themselves through it, but if you’re even the least bit curious I highly recommend checking out The Cinema Snob’s videos he’s done for them instead of partaking in a full viewing.