Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence (1991) [copyright 1990]

... aka: Zombie 09
... aka: Zombie '09
... aka: Zombie 90
... aka: Zombie '90: "Extreme Pestilence"
... aka: Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence VS. Zombie '09

Directed by:
Andreas Schnaas

A military plane carrying a top secret chemical crashes and unleashes a toxin (the "extreme pestilence" of the title) into the woods. Soon after, people are infected and zombies are running amok killing and eating anybody in their path. A doctor and his colleague set out to uncover what's going on and put a stop to it. Though I wish I could provide a more in-depth plot synopsis, that is the whole plot. There's no real story, no dialogue worth listening to, no character development, no narrative push leading anywhere, nada. This film was made for one reason and one reason only: to showcase as much amateur splatter as possible. It - along with the same director's first feature Violent Shit (1987) - developed a minor reputation among extreme gore fans in the early days of home video. Nowadays, well, they just don't hold up all that well, especially considering we've had tons of professionally made movies since with ample and much more convincing-looking gore. The novelty value of something like this is now pretty much gone. Not that it was ever any good...

Instead of playing out like an actual film, this is more a series of blood-drenched vignettes of zombies killing people and people killing zombies repeated ad nauseum. A zombie comes barreling out of the woods carrying a chainsaw and cuts a guy in two before he rips out his guts. A fat woman is attacked in a sauna and has her tit cut off and eaten. When her friend goes to check up on her, she has her back sliced open and all her organs cut out. A woman in a wheelchair holding a baby gets decapitated and then a zombie grabs her newborn, tears off its head and then rips it in two. Zombies are chopped to pieces with machetes and axes and chainsaws. Heads are knocked or shot clean off, stabbed and hacked in half both ways. Fingers are bitten and chopped off. Eyeballs are poked out with fingers. Lots of guts are pulled out of stomachs. And during nearly every single scene an almost comical amount of exaggerated blood (which is usually runny and looks suspiciously like tomato soup) sprays out all over the place. The zombie makeups aren't good at all and the other effects, bloody as they may be, usually look cheap and unconvincing.

Among the many films "referenced" throughout are Romero's entire "Dead" Trilogy, The Evil Dead, Nightmare City, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and, most noticeably, Zombi 2. Because this has all the gore in the world and yet still manages to be incredibly boring and monotonous, it does provide a valuable lesson to future horror directors about the importance of paying attention to everything else that's going on in your film. Look at any one of the low-budget films I've listed above that this borrows from. Even if you took away most of the gore in them, the films themselves would still be watchable for many other reasons, unlike this film, which isn't even worth watching for the gore because you can only watch so many limbs whacked off, chests torn open and messy arterial sprays before it all becomes tiresome. That's precisely why those other films all have cult followings to this day and this film is only watched by a tiny number of die-hard horror buffs like myself who'll watch pretty much anything.

It goes without saying that the camcorder photography is pretty blah, blurry and washed-out looking and the acting is awful but the latter is made even worse thanks to a horrid English dub job done by a couple of guys who are clearly making a big joke of the whole thing and more or less mocking the entire movie as it goes along. Ironically, this comic spin turned out to be a wise decision because it at least provides a few dumb laughs to help get your through it. I couldn't imagine how difficult it would to watch had the whole thing had it played out seriously!

Here in the U.S., this and a few other Schnaas films were first released by an ultra obscure company called Reel Gore Productions some time in the late 90s. Zombie '90 was then released on both DVD and VHS by Shock-O-Rama Cinema in 2002. In 2009, for the German DVD release from Cine Club, a brand new version was prepped featuring added narration (in German), a new title sequence and a different music score. That package was called Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence VS. Zombie '09. (For the record, what I watched was the original VHS release and my screen caps are no reflection of the DVDs picture quality, which appears to be much better). IMDb claims this was released here in the U.S. as Zombi 7 and in Japan as Zombie 2001: Battle Royale (?!) but I've found no evidence to back that up so it's probably not true.

In addition to the films already mentioned, Schnaas also went on to make two Violent Shit sequels (in 1992 and 1999), Goblet of Gore (1996), Anthropophagous 2000 (1999), Demonium (2001), Nikos the Impaler (2003; which was filmed in English in New York City), Don't Wake the Dead (2008), Unrated: The Movie (2009), Karl the Butcher vs. Axe (2010) and Unrated II: Scary as Hell (2011). None of these movies really got much attention.


Lord Crayak said...

Andreas Schnaas is one of my guilty pleasure directors.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

This is all I've seen from him so far. Which one is your favorite? I'll make that my next watch of his.

spookyx3 said...

too many SOV horror guys were content to set up a stock situation then repeat the DAY OF THE DEAD finale every few minutes for an hour and call it a movie. (i'm looking at you, ZOMBIE BLOODBATH, ZOMBIE ARMY, ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE etc. etc.) the thing is, i find the video-tape format really exciting and valuable, for preserving a truer, "unfiltered" view of time and place than 35mm. so if 95% of the time all i get is a glorified home-movie, i can still get off on it.

all that said, i think i'll pass on ZOMBIE '90 for now . . .

Lord Crayak said...

Well, from the films of his I've watched so far, my favorite would be either Nikos the Impaler or Violent Shit II.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

spooky: "too many SOV horror guys were content to set up a stock situation then repeat the DAY OF THE DEAD finale every few minutes for an hour and call it a movie." = A great way to describe this one... only minus the excitement, quality of the fx or anything else for that matter. I understand exactly what you are saying about no budget SOV horrors somehow giving a better reflection of the time (and often place) in which they were made.

Lord: Thanks. I think I may give Nikos a whirl based on the cast alone.

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