Violent Shit 2/Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand (1992) -*˝
There’s something sublime about the title Violent Shit 2, a glorious, almost cosmic upending of the natural order of things. Like a velvet Elvis that cries tears of Southern Comfort or a two-headed goat that speaks fluent Portuguese, encountering it for the first time gives one the impression that they’ve just caught one of the gods winking at them. The experience of watching the movie attached to that title, on the other hand, is closer to having the gods collectively make rude gestures at you from on high, possibly pelting you with disgusting things while they’re at it. What it reminds me of most are the very worst Troma films of the mid-1990’s, and the truly incredible thing is that in most respects, Violent Shit 2 actually represents a considerable improvement over what writer/director Andreas Schnaas had done previously. At least it betrays a few hints that Schnaas has developed a sense of humor.
The film’s best moment— and the only gag it contains that really is as funny as Schnaas thinks— comes at the very beginning, in a pre-credits sequence that bears no relation whatsoever to the rest of the movie. A pair of Cantonese gangsters are conducting a high-volume heroin deal in the middle of an open field somewhere in Germany; there’s really no point in asking why. The buyer believes that the seller is trying to rip him off, so he sics his four conspicuously Caucasian goons on him, initiating a halfway respectable homebrew approximation of a Hong Kong kung fu clash. The drug dealer takes down all four thugs before moving on to their boss, whose kung fu proves so formidable that you really have to wonder why he bothers to maintain a staff of lackeys in the first place. A few minutes later, only the aggrieved buyer remains alive, and if you ask me, he’s well ahead of the game. I mean, he’s got one briefcase full of cash, another briefcase full of heavily cut smack, and no more ineffectual goons to jack up his overhead. But wait! What’s that on the horizon? Why, I do believe it’s a beer-bellied German with a machete and a crappy metal mask… The masked man waddles down the hill as fast as his Body by Beck’s will permit, and connects with the gangster in a spot-on parody of that “two armed silhouettes pass each other on the horizon” shot that turns up at least once in every samurai movie ever made. The Cantonese falls, spewing blood from his gashed throat, and then his killer strides over to squeeze in a bit of gloating before the gangster expires: “You were good, but I— I am better. And I am… Karl the Butcher Jr.!”
From there we go to… travelogue footage?!?! Oh yes. A reporter whose name I didn’t catch has come to Hamburg to meet with an informant, and along the way, he gives us a tour of the city that would do the makers of Reptilicus proud. When at last we meet him, the informant proves to be yet another of the interchangeable heavy metal longhairs who populate all of Schnaas’s early movies, and the explosive story he has come to tell concerns the still-unsolved case of Karl “the Butcher” Berger. (Hey, would you look at that… even Schnaas thinks Karl “the Butcher” Shitter is too tacky a name to use these days.) This, of course, means a quick detour through the Land of Recycled Footage, as the informant recapitulates the original Violent Shit (for the second time, as a matter of fact— almost exactly the same highlights reel accompanied the opening credits just minutes earlier) before finally moving on to the real story.
It seems Karl the Butcher had a wife (or at least a girlfriend), and soon after he melted into a puddle of blood and a monster baby, she arrived on the scene to bury his remains in the forest and raise the child as her own. If the notion of her husband giving birth to a son struck Mrs. Karl the Butcher (Anke Prothmann) as odd, then it must have been covered in one of the many stretches of dialogue that were beyond the limits of my German. Regardless, Mrs. Berger spent the next 25 years or so raising Karl Jr. (Schnaas once again) to have only one thought in his tiny little mind— that one day, he would be turned loose to avenge his father. Exactly what wrong Karl is supposed to be avenging and against whom are both points which I don’t recall having been addressed, but I’m willing to give Violent Shit 2 the benefit of the doubt once again, on account of the language barrier.
When the day of vengeance finally arrives, it means an extended rampage of grisly but cartoonish violence against a series of seemingly random targets, like a more light-hearted (and more technically polished) version of what we saw in the first Violent Shit film. Karl the Butcher Jr. has a more varied modus operandi than his dad (remarkably, he occasionally defies the official Mad Slasher Union Rules by using a pistol), and in keeping with the tone of most mainstream slasher movies of the time, he makes stupid (and often unintelligible) wisecracks while carving up his victims. But despite these and other small changes, Schnaas remains true to his original vision for the series in one vital respect— there’s no discernable narrative point to any of this. Eventually, after what is probably supposed to be at least a couple of months of haphazard mass and serial murder, Karl comes home and unexpectedly finds his beloved mum decapitated in her rocking chair on the front porch. “Your father’s back,” her severed head tells him, and then we abruptly return to the reporter and his informant, the former of whom apparently sends the latter packing after dismissing his tale as too absurd to be worth telling to the world at large. My sentiments exactly, Reporter Guy. My sentiments exactly.
Having watched three of his movies in fairly rapid succession, I feel secure in saying that I now know of two things which fascinate Andreas Schnaas above all else in life: violence against genitals and men pissing on trees. I suppose all filmmakers with a recognizable style have certain recurring quirks (Fulci and his eyeball-gouging, Franco and his nightclub scenes, Wood and his impossible dialogue), but it seems to me that some kind of threshold has been crossed when we can absolutely count on a director to include in each of his movies a scene in which some guy gets his junk hacked off, in which some woman gets disassembled from the pubic symphysis up, and in which a character brings about his fate-tempting isolation by dropping whatever he was doing to go relieve himself in the woods. Even John Waters only had Divine eat dog shit once, after all. Yet Schnaas encourages his viewers to seek out and make note of precisely such patterns, simply because his movies are so fucking dreadful that you’ve got to do something to take your mind off of them while you watch. There’s never any real plot, most of the dialogue is almost completely irrelevant, and cinematographer Steve Aquilina is so hapless that he can’t keep the action framed correctly even with a widescreen aspect ratio. Engrossing yourself in the film just isn’t an option, so instead your mind goes wandering off in search of other ways to occupy itself. You speculate about whether the reason Schnaas usually eschews actual nudity might be in order to avoid drawing attention to the wretchedness of his oft-employed prosthetic crotches. (In case you were wondering, Violent Shit 2 breaks with the pattern quite spectacularly, and having the real deal for comparison— detailed comparison, too— does indeed make the prosthesis for the labia-stapling scene look even worse than it would have to begin with.) You wonder about how many of those headbanger dudes who keep showing up were the director’s pot-smoking buddies in high school. You try to guess ahead of time whether the next scene is going to begin with people driving a car, or with a bunch of guys doing some manner of landscaping work (it’s always one or the other). And if it’s Violent Shit 2 that you’re watching, maybe you’ll take the occasional moment to ponder the stupefying reality that it was, at least technically speaking, a major step up from what came before it. But don’t go too far down that mental path, or you’ll find yourself paying real attention to the movie— that way madness lies, believe me.
Thanks to Will Laughlin for supplying me with my copy of this film. And if you see him, give him a nice slap upside the head for me, would you?