Shatter Dead

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Shatter Dead
Directed by Scooter McCrae
Produced by Scooter McCrae
Written by Scooter McCrae
  • Stark Raven
  • Flora Fauna
  • Daniel 'Smalls' Johnson
  • Robert Wells
Music by
  • Geek Messiah
  • Steven Rajkumar
Cinematography Matthew M. Howe
Distributed by Tempe Video
Release dates
  • 1994 (1994)
Running time
84 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Shatter Dead is a zombie film set in an unknown area following a woman named Susan's (Stark Raven) attempt to return to the apartment of her boyfriend (Daniel 'Smalls' Johnson) in the midst of the return of the dead to a semblance of life. On her way, she is harassed by a preacher (Robert Wells) and a dead woman named Mary (Flora Fauna) intent on convincing her that being undead is preferable to life.[1]


The film opens with a scene of a woman having sex with an apparently female angel. No explanation is given in the film. The back of the DVD cover says the Angel of Death impregnates a mortal woman, causing the dead to come alive. The next shot is of seventeen months later as Susan works her way through a mostly abandoned town on foot. She encounters some of the living dead, including one who gave up his arm to research.

Unlike most modern zombie film denizens, however, they seem somewhat bewildered and eager to please. However, she catches one zombie stealing gas from her car. She chases him and puts a bullet through his gas canister. It explodes dousing the zombie in flames. Susan returns to her car leaves town. Outside of town, her car runs out of gas. She then finds herself surrounded by zombies to force her from her car. A preacher claims her car for the service of the Lord and drives off after the zombies refill the gas tank.

After walking on foot for a while, another car pulls up. The driver offers her a ride. She holds him at gun point and holds a mirror under his nose. When he doesn't exhale warm moist air, she determines him to be a zombie. She takes the car from him (he doesn't put up a fight) and drives for a while, listening to an announcer discussing the current situation on the radio. He doesn't have much information.

Arriving in a new town, she encounters some living people who direct her to a safe house to stay the night (After giving her the mirror test). While staying there, she encounters Mary, a dead woman pretending to be alive, they shower together. Mary tells Susan that she poisoned herself so she can be beautiful forever. Susan, trusts Mary enough to share the bedroom together. Susan sleeps while Mary plays the harmonium. Susan has a dream where she walks in a graveyard and performs fellatio on her sidearm.

At this point the house is attacked by militant zombies (excited by the Preacher who stole Susan's car). This group of Zombies believes these are the end times and God will return once humanity is all dead. They are intent on converting living humans into their way of, uh, metabolism. Waking up surprised, Susan accidentally shoots Mary in the head, destroying Mary's hope of being beautiful forever. The owner of the house, who looks like the woman from the intro but isn't, is shot in the back at close range with a shotgun. She was pregnant but her wound aborts the baby out the front. Susan watches as the newly dead mother begins to nurse the newly dead fetus.

Susan escapes and encounters the preacher who stole her car. She threatens him while he tries to convince her that death is better than life. Susan gives him the mirror test and discovers that he is still alive. Another shot to the face from Susan and the preacher is now one of the undead.

Susan gets her car and her food back and arrives at the apartment of her boyfriend. He's also killed himself but is up and about. The bathtub is filled with his blood. Her boyfriend has lost his mind. He kept hearing the phone ringing and hearing the dead talking to him (including a cremated mother and a sister who never even knew how to use a phone.)

They can't have sex because he has no blood pressure (his blood is in the bathtub after all), so they have intercourse using her gun as a strap-on. He slips poison into her milk. He wants her to be dead and beautiful forever. She tries to induce vomiting, but he stops her. Before she dies, she manages to throw him out the window, breaking most of his bones (and destroying his hope of being young and beautiful forever). The last sequence of the film is a montage switching back and forth between the preacher making splints for her boyfriend and Susan putting tears in her eyes from the faucet so she can mourn her own death.


Director McCrae and cinematographer Howe were inspired to make their own film after watching low-budget exploitation films and thinking that they could make a better one themselves. After experiencing difficulty in explaining his scripts, McCrae decided to shoot an example of the tone and style that he was attempting to convey; that project became Shatter Dead. Shooting took a total ten days over a two-month period on weekends.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Joe Bob Briggs gave it a positive review and called it "a Night of the Living Dead for the '90s".[3] Bloody Disgusting rated it 2/5 stars and wrote, "In all fairness, this is hardcore, uncompromising filmmaking. At the same time, Mr. McCrae should perhaps flesh out his ideas a bit more before putting them to film."[4] G. Noel Gross of DVD Talk called the film "an esoteric zombie odyssey that plods along like a Euro-horror epic punctuated by violent ejaculations of carnage."[5] Writing in The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle said, "Though the premise is fresh and there is a plentiful supply of good raw ideas, the movie is built around character interaction among amateur actors, leaving it scattered and directionless. It lacks sustained tension and resolution, and directs too much energy away from its fascinating conceptual possibilities in favor of trite exploitation concerns".[6]

It won the best independent film award at the 1995 Fantafestival.[7]


  1. ^ New York Times
  2. ^ Lamberson, Gregory (2008). Cheap Scares!: Low Budget Horror Filmmakers Share Their Secrets. McFarland & Company. pp. 163–174. ISBN 9780786452026. 
  3. ^ Briggs, Joe Bob (1995-12-22). "Plagues, Zombies - 'Shatter Dead' Has It All". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  4. ^ "Shatter Dead". Bloody Disgusting. 2004-10-22. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  5. ^ Gross, G. Noel (2002-04-16). "Shatter Dead". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  6. ^ Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 158–159. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6. 
  7. ^ Jones, Stephen (2000). The Essential Monster Movie Guide: A Century of Creature Features on Film, TV, and Video. Billboard Books. p. 340. ISBN 9780823079360. 

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