Directed by Todd Sheets
Camp Motion Pictures DVD
A zombie shuffles by, sporting Umbro soccer shorts, a seven-inch coiffed mullet, and a California Raisins t-shirt.
With the exceptions of David “The Rock” Nelson and everything made in Mexico, shot on video (SOV) trash produced in the 1990s is pretty much a lost cause. Technological advances, lame trends, and the internet abolished the mysterious charms of SOV’s big-boxed golden years, thereby antiquating the trailblazing weirdos and encouraging the self-aware doofs. Then, along came Todd Sheets. A Kansas City native, Sheets is a one-man SOV trash-gore army. Unfortunately, a vast majority of his nearly forty film filmography was shot after 1991. Yet, as the years kept rolling, Todd pretty much stood still. So gas up the Lincoln Town Car, throw on a “Descension” demo tape, and demand a pair of Umbros — in the House Of Sheets, the year is 1990. Eternally. For an hour or two, that’s pretty good news.
The “Zombie Bloodbath Trilogy”, a series of unconnected films which span the years 1993 to 2000, marks the DVD debut of Todd Sheets’s work. Incidentally, it also defines that work. Unintentional hilarity, nasty-ass gore, and eventually, hefty tedium are all part of the Fragrance de Sheets. 1987′s Redneck Zombies, with its gore overflow and regional SOV drawl, is an obvious touchpoint. Kind of. See, Todd Sheets isn’t in this for intentional laughs. Where stuff like Redneck Zombies grates in its attempt at “comedy”, Todd is sincerely building The Legacy, one Romero-ripped film at a time. Besides, no scripted yuks could ever hope to compete with an overweight leading man in a Kansas City Chiefs hat. Or a guy named Jerry Angell (pronounced “angel”), who owns a mullet blessed by God. That stuff writes itself.
In Zombie Bloodbath (1993, 69 minutes), a nuclear reactor and an Indian burial ground team up to set 735 zombies on a rampage. The undead bear only the most elegant of 90s fashions, remove poor Jerry Angell’s asshole, and terrorize a white trash girl-gang who enjoy Megadeth. Naturally, all of this is 100% awesome.
Zombie Bloodbath 2: Rage Of The Undead (1995, 93 minutes) switches it up Blood Massacre-style, as a group of convicts invade a deli and a farmhouse, only to face the wrath of a Satanic scarecrow and his zombie pals. Glass in the mouth. Some gun-to-crotch vagina violence. Jerry Angell (mullet still very much alive in ’95) starring as a hilariously unconvincing rapist. The end credits cap off with “This feature is produced with the hope that we have left you with a thought or two about the state of the human race. In many ways, we are already zombies. THINK ABOUT IT.” 50% awesome.
Lastly, Zombie Bloodbath 3: Zombie Armageddon (2000, 90 minutes) attempts to mash The Breakfast Club, Day Of The Dead, and Pulp Fiction into some sort of entertainment. Disaster strikes. I was thrilled with the Dokken t-shirt, but the frequent Austin Powers references, Ghoul School-styled “fuck” talk, and hideous space shuttle animation promptly filled the room with uncomfortable silence. Plus, there was no Jerry Angell. Fresh out of awesome.
Entertaining to a point, the “Zombie Bloodbath Trilogy” divulges the fruits of a man’s passion for interpreting his favorite horror movies on 1990-styled video. Gushing, wide-eyed uncertainty is expected…and very much accounted for. However, by the time Zombie Bloodbath 3 rolls around, Sheets chimes in with his very own Y2K SOV misfire — inside jokes, annoying pop culture references, and questionable detours in style are all included. Still, the sheer absurdness of it all is what really counts. These films will never topple Nathan Schiff’s They Don’t Cut The Grass Anymore in terms of extreme backyard brutality. They come close, but the atmosphere is goofier. There’s no grit. And that taps in to the framework of Todd Sheets’s style — he’s just a nice guy who happens to love horror movies. And his camcorder.
And ripping out his best friend’s asshole.
AUDIO AND VIDEO
Somewhere in the supplements, Jerry Angell exclaims, “Hey — if they don’t like it, then tough shit!” The toughest.
Todd Sheets is a likeable guy. Throughout the mountain of supplements included on this set, two points are constantly hit home. One, Todd is following his dream, and two, he seems to be having a great time doing it. The three behind the scenes featurettes (ranging from 12 to 35 minutes), two Sheets commentary tracks, early hicksploitation gore film Dead Things (1986, 22 minutes), Zombie Bloodbath 2 World Premiere Footage (9 minutes) and original video trailers for the the Bloodbath films are all completely fascinating. Through vintage video, numerous local TV appearances, and frequent insights from actors, friends, and today’s Todd Sheets, the extras play out like a hodgepodge documentary that I didn’t want to end.
Umbros! Animal-insides gore! Jerry Angell! The “Zombie Bloodbath Trilogy” offers an earnest glimpse into Todd Sheetz’s ambitious-yet-stinted backyard filmography. Zombie Bloodbath (and all of the supplemental material) makes for good-time 1990-styled entertainment. But the Bloodbath siblings, like the majority of post-91 SOV trash, range from passing novelty to ants-in-yer-pants irritation. It’s really up to you.