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Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence (1991)

Directed by Andreas Schnaas
Reel Gore VHS

When we’re faced with potential danger, our eyes can fail us. We might see things that appear to be real, but aren’t. These visions are simply an effect of our anxiety. In these situations, the body must compensate for its visual failings by finding a suitable sensory replacement. Like hearing.

Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence is a dangerous situation that could prove fatal if not for our sense of hearing. Without it, this would be another useless exercise in exxxtreme SOV gore from Germany’s master-of-crotch-violence, Andreas Schnaas (Violent Shit, Anthropophagous 2000). But with the magical ability of our ears, we’re able to hear the soundtrack of Zombie ’90, which sounds like it was dubbed by an exhausted Eddie Deezen impersonator, a poor (white) man’s version of Rudy Ray Moore, and Apu from The Simpsons. In other words, even if the visual content of Zombie ’90 was nothing but a washing machine running for 72 minutes, that still wouldn’t prevent our ears from smiling. We also get zombies eating a fake penis that resembles a Little Debbie Banana Pudding Roll.

Schwing!

A plane has crashed! Chemicals have spilled! Zombies stalk the landscape! While an apathetic doctor named “Doctor” (white Rudy Ray Moore) and his colleague, Simon (tired Eddie Deezen), perform heart surgery, their patient becomes a zombie. After shooting the zombie in the head, Doctor and Simon realize that they’re the only ones who can stop this epidemic.

A car drives on a road. When it stops, a zombie emerges from the woods. The zombie is carrying a chainsaw. He cuts the driver in half. Then two women have a conversation in a sauna. One of the women is on the heavy side. Her friend, who is dubbed by a man, says, “Keep your chins up!” The heavy lady leaves to use the restroom. Zombies appear in the restroom. With the help of a knife, they remove the woman’s breasts, eat them, then cut her in half, right through the vagina. The vagina looks like a Brillo pad stuck between two jumbo hot dogs. Soon after, a woman in a wheelchair holds a baby named “Leroy Bob” in her arms. A man pushes the wheelchair while the woman talks. She says, “It might sound slightly existential, but this world’s just one letdown after another.” A zombie carrying an axe appears. It chops off the man’s head. Then it chops off the women’s head and pulls Leroy Bob apart with its bare hands. If Leroy Bob was not a doll from the Dollar Tree clearance rack, this scene would be disturbing.

This stuff continues for another forty minutes. Zombie ’90 is crammed with vignettes that serve as set-ups for tasteless, ultra-cheap gore. That seems to be Schnaas’s only goal. Like his earlier Violent Shit, the juvenile gags aren’t consistent enough to invoke anything more than a shrug. The carnage isn’t as ominous as Nathan Schiff’s They Don’t Cut The Grass Anymore. And it’s not as “pro” as Todd Sheets’s work in Zombie Bloodbath. Schnaas goes over-the-top more frequently than a lot of filmmakers who came before him. But gore as a means to an end isn’t enough. That’s why The Burning Moon never holds up to repeat viewings. We watched a man’s teeth get sawed in half and that was gross. There’s no reason to see it happen again.

Zombie ’90 isn’t like The Burning Moon or Zombie Bloodbath. If it was, we’d be skipping it instead of discussing it. But what happened between Schnaas’s shooting wrap and the American VHS release is a miracle. In its final form, Zombie ’90 is a great-great descendent of Dracula, The Dirty Old Man. It’s not clear who dubbed the movie. Or why. It is clear that this person had no script, usually paid no attention to what was happening onscreen, and maybe fell asleep a few times. There are a handful of moments where the voice talent is trying to be funny, but the overall tone of the movie isn’t comedic. So what we get is an assemblage of footage that feels like Cheech And Chong on a quaalude binge during a sleepover party at Lucio Fulci’s house. A generic, no-budget zombie movie is mutated into a non-stop pleasuredome. Even when Doctor has a dream that mostly consists of the camera roaming around an abandoned house for ten minutes. The dubbing keeps everything fresh. The gore never feels hostile — just dumb. We don’t understand why we’re laughing when a zombie removes someone’s eyes and we hear fart noises. Why don’t get why we have tears in our eyes when a car runs over a dismembered cock and someone say, “Sploorch!” But we’re laughing. And sometimes, we don’t need to question why.