Holy Jesus Christ on roller skates, what the hell is this?
What this is is an abominable shot-on-video Fulci knock-off from Germany, courtesy of VIOLENT SHIT director Andreas Schnaas. Made in 1990 (as if you couldn't tell), this gore extravaganza never received a legit release in the U.S. and as far as I know, it never got one anywhere, quite deservedly I might add. And though the movie begins with a disclaimer warning the viewer of the graphic violence and gore that awaits, what it really needs to do is warn the audience that it's one staggeringly stupid flick.
There's not much of a story to speak of, so I won't waste my time, though suffice to say it's merely a series of repetitive vignettes as extras fall victim to sloppily made-up zombies, interspersed with scenes of two scientists trying to . . . well, I don't think they know what they're doing. Obviously what little money Schnaas had went toward Karo syrup and cheap latex.
But plot'll be the last thing on your mind five minutes into this thing. Aside from the piss-poor videography, rendering the movie as well-shot as a high school class project, ZOMBIE '90 has simply the WORST DUBBING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF MOTION PICTURES. Yes, you heard that right; forget your Godzilla movies, your Filipino action flicks, or K. Gordon Murray's Mexican imports, because this one tops them all. And I don't mean just on a technical level--though that's certainly true, with dialogue coming out of closed mouths, or at best unsynchronized when the actors are talking--but the pathetic voice-overs themselves. How big of a crack pipe must you suck on to think giving the leads a flamboyant homosexual lilt and a decidedly un-p.c. "jive talkin'" manner of speech (to a white guy) is appropriate?
My first thought was that whoever got a hold of this thing decided to fuck with it and make it even more idiotic; I wondered if Schnaas had any idea this was happening, or if he had any say in it. I couldn't imagine a filmmaker of even this poor caliber approving such a thing. While this would no doubt be a lousy film in its native German, the WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY?-style dub-job takes it from being merely bad to a unique form of brain-sodomy.
Just as bad as the dubbing are the gore effects, and since this is a film that relies solely on extended gore set-pieces, that's pretty dire news. The only real interest in these scenes is which portion of the body Schnaas will destroy next; there's a couple of (hilarious) decapitations, plenty of severed fingers (which were presumably cheaper to make than other body part), a blowjob-cum-castration (my apologies for the sickeningly easy pun), and lots and lots of disembowelings. Although extremely graphic, these sequences make not a whit of impact, be it lousy timing (most of them go on far longer than neccesary), extras who are visibly uncomfortable smearing innards in their face (leading one to assume the genuine article was often used), or glaring inconsistencies (note to Schnaas: there are no intestines in a woman's breast, so none should come out when one's hacked off).
Like a lot of horror directors, Schnaas loves to shock and provoke an audience, but unfortunately he doesn't know how to do that. He tries gamely, whether it's showing characters urinating, or off-handedly remarking that AIDS is somehow responsible for the zombie epidemic, or the old stand-by: ripping a baby (doll) from from its womb and tearing it to shreds. Whereas a more skilled director could carefully stage these sequences to evoke the right response from an audience, Schnaas is too busy cataloging atrocities to care. (Really, the only thing shocking in this thing is Schnaas tries to rip off the ending to Fulci's ZOMBIE with eight or nine zombies staggering along a bridge.)
Schnaas at least keeps things moving at a breezy pace, but he manages to fumble that too around the one-hour mark, dropping in a pointless and very tedious ten-minute dream sequence that serves only to pad the running time. The goofball dubbing also drops out about this time, showing for the remainder of the film just how unwatchable this thing could've been.
This is truly bottom-of-the-barrel cinema, the kind of one-take filmmaking where characters stumble and nearly fall during a scene, yet it doesn't get edited out. But for those of you who cherish schlock films--and coming from somebody who owns TROLL 2, that's not a condemnation--ZOMBIE '90 is indispensable.
(The following is a series of clips set to the music of Toxic Holocaust. It highlights the crappy gore, but doesn't capture just how remarkably dumb the movie is.)