Violent Shit 3: Infantry of Doom/Violent Shit III: End of Trilogy/VS3: Infantry of Doom/Zombie Doom (1999) -**
It took him fully ten years, but it finally occurred to Andreas Schnaas that if you’re going to make a feature-length movie, you really do need a story first. Now, I’m not saying it’s a good story, or anything, but in marked contrast to everything else Schnaas had done previously, Violent Shit 3: Infantry of Doom has a recognizable plot with recognizable characters in recognizable conflict. Above all else, what that means is that Violent Shit 3 becomes sporadically entertaining, primarily because Schnaas proves to be every bit as bad with a story as he is with a director’s chair or a starring role. Weeeee…
Right… So there are these three guys— Ron (Joe Neumann, of Anthropophagous 2000), Mark (Winni Holl), and Peter (Uwe Grüntjes)— on a boat together somewhere out in what I suppose is probably the Baltic Sea. They all dislike each other intensely, and they keep talking shit about Ron’s nephew, but none of the background explaining either of those points will ever emerge. There’s also some incredible narration (from Mark, I think), which sounds like it was written on a bet that Schnaas couldn’t come up with an entire paragraph in which every other word was either “shit” or “puke.” If that is indeed what happened, then Andy just totally pocketed that other guy’s lunch money. Eventually, the boat runs aground on an island, and the moment Ron, Mark, and Peter disembark, they find themselves surrounded by machete-wielding shit-kickers wearing camo fatigues and pitiful tin masks that will be instantly recognized by anyone who was foolish enough to watch Violent Shit 2. The slasher commando guys round up the intruders and carry them off to their camp at the center of the isle.
This brings us to Karl the Butcher. If you remember the end of the last movie, you will recall that Karl the Butcher Jr. had his maternally-ordered killing spree interrupted when his dad, inexplicably back from the dead, came by the old homestead and chopped off Mrs. Karl the Butcher’s head. Well, since that time, Karl Jr. (Andreas Schnaas) has been one busy son of a bitch. With his father (longtime Schnaas associate Marc Trinkhaus) serving in the capacity of August Figurehead, the younger Karl the Butcher has reinvented himself as Der Meister, a paramilitary warlord who is roughly equal parts Vlad the Impaler, Jim Jones, and Adolf Hitler. The commando guys are his army, the Infantry of Doom, and while nobody ever explains what their object is, I’m sure it can’t be good. At the very least, it’s no damn good for Ron, Mark, and Peter, who get tied to a trio of stakes and made to look on while Karl Jr. presides over the execution of a number of disloyal Doomies, and the movie gets bogged down in overwrought but uninteresting gore scenes for about half an hour. Then Peter makes the mistake of insulting Der Meister to his face, winning him an overwrought but uninteresting execution of his own. Finally, the Karls bring out a Doomie named Leon (Xiu-Yong Lin), who brought discredit upon himself when he complained about his bosses using his wife for one of their periodic rituals of rape-murder. Leon (and, because Der Meister is in a good mood, Ron and Mark as well) will be given a chance to do something more than die horribly and ignominiously— he and the remaining outsiders will serve as the prey in this year’s Great Hunt, the annual training exercise whereby the Infantry of Doom keeps itself in tip-top shape. In other words, Violent Shit 3 just turned into the world’s cheapest adaptation of “The Hounds of Zaroff.”
Those who have picked up this movie under the title Zombie Doom are surely asking themselves by now, “Alright, damn it— where are the fucking zombies?!?!” It’s a valid question. In fact, for most of the film, the only zombie we’ll see is the half-disassembled one lying on the operating table in the tent serving as the laboratory of Karl Jr.’s sidekick, Dr. Senius (it’s the same guy who played Dr. Bern in Zombie ‘90: Extreme Pestilence, but with a Hitler moustache— he isn’t identified specifically in the credits to this movie, either). Senius is the research and development arm of the Infantry of Doom, and his big project at the moment is to perfect a master race of indestructible zombies that will give the two Karls an unanswerable advantage in carrying out… well, whatever the hell their plan is supposed to be. Senius is also inexplicably the commander of the Infantry of Doom’s elite squad of Black Demon ninjas, and as it becomes increasingly obvious that Leon, at least, is more than a match for the regular Doomies, Karl Jr. orders Senius to send them out to finish the job. But Der Meister has forgotten about something. Leon isn’t the only Chinese guy to get drummed out of the Infantry of Doom recently, and the Black Demons aren’t the only ninjas around here. Two of Leon’s old friends (Son Le and Giang Le, who played the Triad gangsters at the beginning of Violent Shit 2) are hiding out in the forest, and they join up with him just in time to redecorate a fair-sized woodland clearing with various pieces of the Black Demons. Then the threesome set out to kung fu their way back to the camp and square up accounts with Karl, Karl, Senius, and the rest of the crew.
The biggest departure Violent Shit 3 makes from its predecessors is actually not the unexpected appearance of a plot and some characters. Far more significant is the fact that despite all external appearances, it is not a horror film but an action movie. Though it begins in typical Schnaas territory, with characters in a vehicle stopping and being attacked by lunatics, leading eventually to a protracted outburst of extreme graphic violence, it leaves all that behind as soon as Leon, Ron, and Mark are released into the woods with a 24-hour head-start. After that, Infantry of Doom turns first into a riff on Enter the Ninja, and finally into a cut-rate version of one of those exploding bamboo movies that Chuck Norris made for Cannon during the 1980’s. It seems that at any minute, the tin-masked legions of Karl the Butcher might disappear, their places taken by the Viet Cong. And remarkably enough, Schnaas displays a capacity (if not a talent, precisely) for staging a big battle scene that is well in advance of his painfully incompetent work as a horror director. Nobody is ever going to mistake Violent Shit 3 for Full Metal Jacket— or even Commando— but Schnaas does a decent enough job of making his extras seem much more numerous than they really are, and there is some creditable pyrotechnic work in the big climactic shoot-out. Meanwhile, in the martial arts sequences, the Le brothers certainly have the moves, and Schnaas is obviously trying to capture some small particle of the Hong Kong flavor, even if no one in his cast has the speed or the energy to make the comparison hold up for long.
Nevertheless, there’s still a good bit of old-school Schnaas on display here, and predictably, it is during those parts of the film that Violent Shit 3 is at its weakest. The first act— which is basically just one execution by torture after another— is agonizingly dull, and feels much, much longer than its already quite lengthy 30-odd minutes. The one zombie set-piece later on (which apparently justifies the none-too-appropriate title of Shock-o-Rama’s DVD edition) is nearly as bad, and is likely to induce traumatic flashbacks in those who have seen Zombie ‘90: Extreme Pestilence. The one good thing to be said about Violent Shit 3’s horror aspects is that Schnaas has finally thought of a few new tricks for the gore scenes, and now that he’s merely supervising the makeup effects (rather than creating them himself), even the really complex ones come pretty close to working. The bulk of this movie’s limited entertainment value, however, derives from Schnaas’s writing, the hilariously awkward dialogue especially. When Mark soliloquizes in voiceover that “The world is full of puke and shit, and now a horde of tin-masked assholes are puking in our faces, full of shit,” it is a truly priceless moment. Now it’s just barely possible that lines like that one were the invention of the English-language screenwriters, but since the original German dialogue tracks of the first two Violent Shit films both included long stretches during which the only words I could catch were the oft-repeated “Scheisse” (shit), “ficken” (fuck), “Arschloch” (asshole), and “Schlampe” (slut), I’m much more inclined to give the credit (if you can call it that) to Schnaas himself. But even if we charitably conclude that the jury is still out on the dialogue, there’s just no way to palm off on the translators such baffling scripting decisions as failing to reveal not only the true identity of Ron’s much-maligned nephew, but even what he did to cause Ron, Mark, and Peter to hate him so much. Given that the mysterious nephew’s actions apparently caused the three men to wind up in that boat on the Baltic in the first place, you’d think Schnaas might have felt compelled to delve into the subject sooner or later. You’ve also got to wonder what Schnaas is thinking when he eliminates the character whom he has set up to be the hero not once, but twice, leaving the final destruction of the Infantry of Doom to characters who aren’t even introduced until more than halfway into the film. By the time we get to the sudden appearance of the Master of the Flying Guillotine (no, really!) to fight by Karl the Butcher’s side in the final showdown, we’ve already seen so much non-sequitur writing that the sheer lunacy of said development barely even registers.