Anthropophagus (1980) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Anthopophagus (1980)

Film: Sometimes you’ll find a film that you’ll like that you just can’t nail down why. For me, Anthropophagus is one of those films. Directed and co-written (alongside George Eastman, who also stars as the Killer) by Joe D’Amato aka Aristide Massaccesi, a name that some people will associate with the less impressive films of European cinema.

I don’t necessarily subscribe to that point of view. Yes, I agree, some of his films have been… well, crap, but occasionally there is a diamond in the rough. I put Buio Omega I that category along with this one.

Something this film is probably best known for is being one of the films that was labelled a ‘Video Nasty’ in the U.K. in the early 80s, and had only, until released fully intact in 2015, ever been released with 8 odd minutes cut from its approximately 90 minute run time.

Anthropophagus tells this sordid tale…

Julie (Tisa Farrow) manages to hitch a ride on a yacht to a small island community off the coast of Greece where she is supposed to meet up with a family whose daughter she is paid to be a ‘companion’ for whilst they travel. Upon arrive they find the entire town abandoned and as they investigate further they find several bodies and one survivor, Julie’s young charge who has been hiding from a man who she describes as smelling of blood.

Who is this man and what does he have to do with the missing population of the island?

I also have to say whenever I watch this, and I have done it this time, I immediately have to watch 1982’s Humongus: it’s basically the same film but with two special features, and both of them are attached to Joy Boushel, an actress whom a young me fell in love with and still have fond memories of… she’s probably more famously exposed in the cult comedy film Pinball Summer.

Fans of Eurotrash cinema will notice several people amongst the cast aside from Farrow and Eastman:Selena Grandi from Portrait of Gloria, Zora Kerova from the New York Ripper and Mark Bodin from Alien 2 – On Earth

Anyway, back to Anthropophagus. It’s notoriety is completely warranted. There are a couple of scenes in the film which are such WTF moments of epic magnitude than you’ll wonder if you really saw what you just saw. There is one scene it’s particularly known for where you’ll be absolutely gobsmacked, and every woman in the room will slam their legs shut and cringe.

This film is criticised for being slow but I prefer to think of it as being deliberately paced. Synthy-soundtrack fans will get a kick from Marcelo Giombini’s score, a combination of frenetic synth riffs with church-like organ, which fills some of the scenes with a certain amount of anguish, which is what a good score is supposed to do!

Basically I love this film and I don’t know why. I always enjoy watching it. Though the fact I watch it alone may suggest others don’t have a similar thought…

Score: *****

Format: The reviewed copy was the UK, region B, 88 Films release of the film, as part of their Italian Collection (its number 7) which runs for approximately 90 minutes. It is presented in a somewhat grainy 1.66:1 image with a good mono audio. Also this film can be watched in English, or in Italian with English subtitles.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Some excellent extras on this disc, including the amazing documentary 42nd Street Memories: The Rise and Fall of the Most Notorious Block! which has many people, including Debbie Rochon, Lynn Lowrey, Frank Henenlotter and Lloyd Kaufman discuss the history of the notorious grindhouse strip of cinemas in New York in the 60s, 70s and 80s. For me, it’s my favourite of director, film documentarian Calum Waddell best work. It’s not just some crappy ten minute thing either, it’s a proper 90 minute doco. I admit it’s not directly linked to the film of the disc, but it’s a nice extra anyway.

Italian Opening titles shows the beginning of the film but with the Italian titles instead of the English ones.

Anthropophagus trailers features a bunch of different trailers with various titles of the film.

The Bluray slick itself also can be reversed to have either 88 Films’ cover, or a replica of the original cover.

Score: ****

WISIA: For some reason I love this film, and I watch it regularly!

Absurd (1981) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Absurd (1981)

Film: I am a pretty big fan of the film Anthropophagus. It’s uneven and has an odd pace to it but for some reason I just love it. I didn’t see it until it was first released on DVD, but instantly fell in love with it. I was aware through various books and documentaries that there was a ‘sequel’ and in this world of previously never thought to be released movies appearing everywhere on DVD and bluray (Salo, in Australia?!? Who would have thought?!?) I had basically resigned myself to probably never seeing it.

Thanks to Kickstarter though, this pseudo-sequel to Anthropophagus IS now available through U.K. (special mention should go to fellow To Watch Piler Explosive Action  for his contribution) and here I sit, having just finally seeing it.

Absurd was directed by well-known Italian director Aristide Massaccesi, aka Joe D’Amato aka Peter Newton, who also directed the aforementioned Anthropophagus, as well as Buio Omega and was written by Luigi Montefiori, aka George Eastman aka John Cart, and whilst it does contain elements of the ‘first’ film, it is its own thing.

… and by ‘own thing’ I mean it borrows heavily from John Carpenter’s Halloween!!

Absurd starts with a man, Mikos Stenopolis (George Eastman) being pursued by a another man, ‘Father’ (Edmund Purdom) and the chase ends abruptly when Mikos impales himself on a fence and is disembowelled!

He somehow manages to get himself off the fence and goes to a local household who call for help, but what we discover is that Mikos is a psychopath who is able to heal from any wound at a rapid rate, and that ‘Father’ is a priest who is trying to destroy him!

Of course there is a rapid succession of murders, and eventually Mikos starts to terrorise the family who assisted him after his disembowelment, including a young boy and an infirm teenage girl. The police are in a flap over the deaths but will the priest and his skills, whatever they are, subdue the felon, or will he be found to be impotent and another hero step up to the plate?

Now it’s well documented that this riffs on Carpenter’s Halloween and that is evident from pretty much well the start, with Eastman playing an unmasked ‘Michael Myers’ and Purdom’s priest borrowing heavily from Donald Pleasance’s Dr Loomis. It occasionally seems to be touching on Halloween 2 as well, but with both films being released in the same year, I’m not so sure if that would be true, and if I’m honest, the similarity comes from the hospital environment so it’s probably just a co-incidence.

The acting of the two leads is really what makes this film. Eastman with his grunts and insane stares are hilarious, and when paired with Purdom’s unfit (the running scene at the beginning is hilarious), and wrathful priest, it’s a B-grade nerd-gasm.

The film is a fine watch, but I found Anthropophagus a far more entertaining, even through its failings.

Score: **1/2

Format: This 88 Films region B bluray of Absurd runs for approximately 94 minutes and is presented in an really great 1.85:1 image with a clear LCPM 2.0 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: There is a great bunch of extras on this disc:

First, there is actually two presentations of the film. The first is a longer dubbed English version, and the second is the 6 minute shorter Italian version with subtitles.

There is an informative and quite funny commentary by the guys from the podcast The Hysteria Continues, which looks at… well, everything to so with the film and the history of various cast and crew involved.

The Absurd Files: an Interview with George Eastman is an interesting interview with Eastman, aka Luigi Montefiori where he discusses his history in cinema, with a focus on this film. It is in Italian with subtitles.

Michele Saovi Interview is a cleverly named Interview with Michele Saovi, again discussing his career and his relationship with Joe D’Amato. This is also in Italian with English subtitles.

The menu screen also has a ‘special thanks’ section which lists the names of all the people and companies who donated to 88 Films’ Kickstarter.

This edition of the film also offers a cool booklet from well know horror journalist and documentarian Calum Waddel called Video Nasties: Sleazy Does It which tells an abbreviated version of the ‘Video Nasties’ scare in the UK in the early 80s of which this film was a banned item.

This disc, from 88 Films’ Italian Collection, also has a reversible cover.

Score: ****

WISIA: Even though it’s a silly film, that emulates Halloween a fair bit, I’ll probably watch it again.