A thematically dense and extremely explicit horror film, SHATTER DEAD proves that the shot-on-video chiller genre need not consist solely of show-off reels for amateur makeup effects artists.
Sometime in the near future, the world is overrun by the recently returned dead. But instead of viciously hunting humans, these zombies attempt to co-exist in the world and have formed their own factions and society. Susan (Stark Raven), a living young woman, is navigating through this world in
an attempt to reunite with her boyfriend, but after a zombie steals gas out of her car, she is left stranded. The Preacher Man (Robert Wells), a zombie-friendly religious zealot, claims her car, and Susan makes her way to a boardinghouse inhabited by the living dead. There she meets Mary (Flora
Fauna), a girl who has chosen to kill herself and remain young and beautiful instead of aging; Susan becomes disgusted by her rejection of life and viciously beats her. A band of radical anti-zombie terrorists invades the house and savagely slaughters the occupants, with Susan barely escaping.
Making her way home, Susan discovers that her boyfriend, Dan (Daniel "Smalls" Johnson), has died and returned as well. After they manage to make love (using her gun as a sexual aid), Dan reveals that he has poisoned her so that she can join him in undeath. Horrified, she pushes him out a window,
crippling him. As the Preacher Man and his zombie minions strap him into a makeshift framework to allow him to walk again, Susan begins to come to terms with her new identity.
So many low-budget zombie films are crude imitations of George Romero's DEAD trilogy, with poorly made-up extras ripping fake guts out of the cast, that SHATTER DEAD's revisionist approach to the subgenre is worthy of applause on its own. The concept of the living dead as creatures with
feelings, emotions, and different outlooks on the advantages of being zombies is an intriguing one, presented in many variations by writer-director Scooter McCrae. He also milks the idea for morbid humor (a zombie beggar bears a sign identifying him as an unemployed crash test dummy) and a bizarre
exploration of the theological implications of zombies, as delivered by the Preacher Man.
Not that the movie exists as a purely intellectual exercise, though. McCrae is as literal-minded about his gory violence as Romero, and goes far beyond in terms of perverse sexual imagery. From the very first scene, which depicts a naked female angel having sex with a human woman, to the love
scene involving Susan, Dan, and Susan's gun, the director pulls no punches in terms of explicitly combining sex and violence. The mix occasionally threatens to go too far, even for this genre, but thankfully, McCrae's grounding of the extreme elements in his unusual worldview prevents them from
seeming gratuitous. The result, despite its very low-budget look, is a movie that will intrigue horror fans, as well curiosity seekers with strong stomachs. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: A thematically dense and extremely explicit horror film, SHATTER DEAD proves that the shot-on-video chiller genre need not consist solely of show-off reels for amateur makeup effects artists. Sometime in the near future, the world is overrun by the rece… (more)