Originally a German splatter slasher franchise started way back in 1989 by Andreas Schnaas, Violent Shit and its main antagonist Karl the Butcher have been rebooted for modern audiences by Italian director Luigi Pastore (Symphony in Blood Red) along with the help of several familiar genre faces for this new take on the legend.
The film opens with a pre-credit origin sequence in which we learn that before the bloodshed, a young Karl is punished by his mother. It is at this time that he is seduced by the devil and his transformation from a human to a monster begins.
Fast forward twenty five years to the present day, where a shoehorned in monologue, by the late and still beautiful Lilli Carati, builds on this supernatural theme; thereby setting the scene for later events. However Pastore would go on to state that this footage was actually intended for another project that never came to fruition. As a result it was inserted here to honour Carati after her passing.
The supernatural element adds an extra dimension to the Karl the Butcher mythos but the burgeoning triumvirate of evil between the devil, Professor Vassago (Lombardo Radice) and the Kevin Costner lookalike, Senator Vinci (Zequila) appeared to add too many levels of complexity the plot; requiring a significant amount of exposition throughout the first two acts just to bring it back round to Karl. The result being much more emphasis on story during these parts than splatter. But thankfully, for those hoping for a bloodbath, we do finally start to witness some brutal violence once a bloody torso is found in a Rome park.
It is here that Karl’s story really comes alive, thanks to the introduction of lead detectives, the young Aristide D’Amato—fantastic joining of the real name of the director Aristide Massaccesi and his alias Joe D’Amato— (Vincenzo Pezzopane) and Interpol agent Hans Ebert; which allows Violent Shit stalwart Steve Aquilina to reprise his detective role from an earlier film.
After a little bit more exposition, there is a most welcome cameo introduction of rival detectives, played by Enzo Castellari (director of The Bronx Warriors, Il Grande Racket, The Last Shark) and Luigi Cozzi (director of Contamination, The Killer Must Kill Again) who manage to steal their scene. In particular, Castellari’s bitter, wise cracking forensic doctor is a particular highlight, emphasised even more thanks to the English dubbing he receives.
For some reason the film feels like it needs to explain every detail in order to justify the actions of several characters but rather than reeling the viewer in we are left unsatisfied due to the imbalance between set-up and pay-off, save for a few entertaining scenes.
In its defence as a result of the tonal changes undertaken to the franchise greater emphasis is required to develop plot and character but when this occurs in a film not only with the history of but also the name of Violent Shit viewers will have a certain expectation of something less subtle and more direct.
Thankfully, things pick up for the final third as the creepy professor hosts a dinner party full of sex, drugs and cannibalism; perfectly juxtaposing vitality with death, as Pastore delights in showing us the outer flesh one moment and the inner the next, when at last, Karl the Butcher makes his real entrance in a flurry of graphic and brutal violence.
Overall Violent Shit: The Movie is one for euro horror fans to check out but it ultimately fails to consistently deliver. The many cameos, the references and the gore will provide a lot of fun for fans of the genre with special mention for the exceptional FX work of David Bracci (Sleepless, Eaters, Catacomba); in particular the castration of one young male. It is clear that Bracci has learned well from the master Sergio Stivaletti.
Although Pastore’s attempt to try something new is to be commended, it is at odds with the film’s splatter history while simultaneously failing to strike that perfect balance between characterisation and extreme violence.