Lots of folks TALK about making movies. Some have even been known to write snarky reviews of flicks OTHER people poured their souls into. But first-time filmmaker Scooter McCrae up and bucked the norm by actually making himself a zombie picture called Shatter Dead (1993, 84 minutes) for about 10 cents that went on to win a prize at the Italian FANTAFILM Festival. Sadly, McCrae didn't have the scratch to ATTEND the fest, but was plenty pleased to be recognized, especially with hero and grue guru Lucio Fulci among the judges who adamantly supported the film's recognition as Best U.S. Independent Feature.
The movie: Things begin with a bang as two gals couple in a manner favored among canines, and several gyrations later, the alpha pooch majestically sprouts angel's wings. Kinky, huh? Wait, there's more. Turns out the rotund FEMALE seraphim is actually The Angel of Death and she KNOCKED UP this lowly mortal broad (Marina Del Rey), thus putting the kibosh on DEATH among we puny humans. Let that soak in for a second. Got it? Forget it. Doesn't matter. This is really more about Susan (Stark Raven) -- a chick version of Kane from "Kung Fu" -- who wanders an apocalyptic world getting nekkid and shooting folks. Not just anybody, exactly. She shoots DEAD people. How's that for a head scratcher? Our ever-scowling Susan eventually finds herself at some sort of commune for anyone with a heartbeat where she encounters an exceedingly friendly babe (Flora Fauna) who offers to soap up her back in the shower. Instead of a loving embrace, this leads to a mini-Woo shootout joined by militant activists in circus outfits and culminating in the aforementioned pregnant gal nursing the baby suddenly made accessible via a gaping gunshot wound to her tum. But really, honestly, all Susan REALLY wanted all along was to find her way safely back to the arms of her long-haired beau (Smalls Johnson) who fancies himself a philosopher. Yet, after all she's endured, he's unable to, ahem, rise to this romantic reunion. Horny and resourceful, Susan fashions an NRA-approved strapon for her lover consisting of a leather belt and her trusty sidearm. What follows is a vigorous diddling of her nethers with cold steel -- a pseudo-erotic act that just MIGHT be symbolic. Oh, not to worry, the safety was on the WHOLE time.
Notables: Eight breasts. 37 corpses. Zombie panhandlers. One fire-suit stunt. Soap dropping. Peeping. Self-gratification. Gratuitous dream sequence. Zombie car jackers. Firearm fellating. Puking. Shotgun C-section. Milk moustache. Head crushing. Rubber fetus puppet. One wangdoodle.
Quotables: Hard times indeed for the undead, "I took a job as a crash test dummy. Now, I'm too ugly to go home. That's got to be worth something!" Quip that'd be right at home in any Hollywood blockbuster, "PREPARE TO BE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED!!!" Our heroine doesn't mince words, "I'm packing enough ballistics here to make you as airy as a fly swatter, holy man!"
Time codes: Actual autopsy footage can be seen on television (20:20). Gratuitous shower scene with female commingling (24:00). Zombie Cub Scout troop's first-aid lesson goes horribly awry (1:16:18).
Audio/Video: Presented in its original fullframe aspect ratio and looks the best it ever has. Stereo track has the same lack of consistency as the video, but that's just the nature of this noble, no-budget beast.
Extras: THREE commentaries by McCrae. First, nostalgic pandemonium with cast members Stark Raven, Smalls Johnson, Marina Del Rey and Robert Wells (The Preacher Man via speaker phone). Followed by a techie track with cinematographer Matt Howe and, finally, an in-depth solo session with Scooter in auteur mode. Video extras include a hokey, yet informative cable-access interview with McCrae at the time of the flick's release (28 mins). There's a poor man's "making of" featurette with McCrae narrating raw outtakes (30 mins). By far the more whimsical of the bunch is the filmmaker's guided tour of the "Shatter Dead House," which is of course his actual residence. The extravaganza comes complete with blood stains and a special appearance by a certain nekkid starlet (8 mins). Theatrical trailer, extensive Sub Rosa promo reel, plus a trailer for McCrae's as yet unfinished followup Sixteen Tongues. No printed insert or liner notes. (Note to DVD producers: Yes, motion-video menus are swell, but NOT when transitions rival the total running time of the feature itself).
Final thought: An esoteric zombie odyssey that plods along like a Euro-horror epic punctuated by violent ejaculations of carnage. Recommended.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.