Thursday, November 15, 2018

ANTHROPOPHAGOUS (1980) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)

ANTHROPOPHAGOUS (1980) 

Label: Severin Films 

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 90 Minutes 
Region Code: All regions.
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Audio: English and Italian DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Joe D'Amato
Cast: George Eastman, Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Zora Kerova


Italian gore film Anthropophagous (1980) is a pretty well-known video nasty, a gut-munching slice of bad-movie making from notorious director Joe D'Amato (Beyond the Darkness) about a group of tourists who set sail to a tiny Greek island only to discover that the place is strangely uninhabited. Among the group we have siblings Alan (Saverio Vallone) and his psychic sister Carol (Zora Kerova, Cannibal Ferox), Carol's boyfriend Daniel (Mark Bodin, Alien 2: On Earth), couple Maggie (Serena Grandi, Delerium) and Arnold (Bab Larson, Angelfist) who are expecting a child, and newcomer to the group Julie (Tisa Farrow, Zombie) whom they've only just met. Exploring the island they find no one around, everyone on the small island community seems to have disappeared, except for a mysterious woman in black who keeps her distance when spotted. As the sun sets the group settle into a mansion for the night, where they are startled to find a young blind woman named Henrietta who leaps from a barrel of wine with a knife, superficially slashing an unsuspecting Daniel. In a state of shock the traumatized girl tells the group of a flesh-eating madman who has been stalking the island murdering everyone in sight, saying she can tell when he's near because she can smell the blood! 


The bloodthirsty madman turns out to be a disturbed man named Nico (writer of the film George Eastman, 1990: The Bronx Warriors) who we find out through a flashback was stranded at sea with his wife and young son. Starving he turned to cannibalism to survive, a horrific act that drove him to the point of insanity. Somehow returning home he set about slaughtering everyone in sight and hiding their bodies around the island, and now he has set his sights on the newly arrived strangers!


Unfortunately after an initial killing of a tourist couple at the start of the film, which includes a meat cleaver to the skull, the film settles into a slow-burn of character build-up with the small group, becoming a real slog with only a few atmospheric moments to keep you plugged in, namely an ominous tarot card reading on the sail boat courtesy of psychic Carol. 


As the group continues to explore the island they discover a few corpses that look to have had their faces chewed off, and soon enough they begin to fall prey to the gut-munching maniac themselves. The deaths begin with the maniac decapitating the head of a sailor, it's a ridiculous set-up, with the pregnant woman freaking out when she discovers that the bucket she is soaking her feet also contains the sailor very fake looking head. The lunatic then abducts the poor pregger Maggie, later ripping her unborn child from her womb and eating it in one of the film's more notorious scenes! The film is a bit of a slog but it does offer up some truly memorable gore-gags, aside from the womb-ripping we also get a throat tear, a throat slash, a pick-ax to the guts, a suicide by hanging, and the eating of ones own intestines, all pretty memorable stuff. 

The good gore is appreciated but the film is languidly paced and not particularly well-shot, the plot is a bit of a predictable bore and the characters all make bone-headed decisions prior to their demise, so it has a lot going against it, but if you're just in it for a few gore-gags it has that going for it, but if this wasn't a video nasty I doubt it would be as notorious as it has become. George Eastman does what he can with the killer maniac role, lumbering around with rotting teeth, his blistered and decaying skin peeling right off his face, but the staging and execution of the film is rather poor. Enhancing the film quite a bit is the cheesy-synth score from Marcello Giombini (The Eerie Midnight Horror Show) whose sickening synths conjure up some real nausea at points. 

Anthropophagous is a bit of a plodder, sure it definitely delivers the gore, but it's just too bad we don't get a more stylish presentation to deliver the skinned-rabbit gags, but it still manages to get by on gore and cheap atmosphere, but just barely. 


Audio/Video: Anthropophagous (1980) arrives on Blu-ray with a new 2K scan from the original 16mm camera negative, presented in 1080p HD and framed in 1.66:1 widescreen, with 'The Savage Island' title card. The new presentation looks solid with some good detail and textures coming through, the grain is uniform but also pretty ugly looking. The film does show it's age and limitations with minor print damage seen throughout and the blacks aren't as deep as you would hope for, but I will say that it's a serious upgrade from the old Shriek Show DVD. Audio on the disc comes by way of English and Italian DTS-HD MA Mono 2.0 with optional English subtitles. Either option sounds about the same as as fidelity goes, the English track is slightly more robust, but boxy and strange sounding as expected. The score from Marcello Giombini (The Eerie Midnight Horror Show) benefits the most from the lossless audio bump, the sickening synth sounds pushed all the right buttons for this sort of film. 


Severin do not skimp on the extras, beginning with a new thirteen-minute interview with writer/star Luigi Montefiori [a.k.a. George Eastman] who discusses how he came to work with D'Amato and why he enjoyed working with him, discussing their career together, admitting he thinks that this film is shit, and commenting on why D'Amato never went on to do more mainstream movies. Actor Saverio Vallone shows up for 13-minutes to discuss his leading role in the film, working with D'Amato, how he began his career working behind the camera. 



There's also a brief interview with FX Artist Pietro Tenoglio who discusses his collaborations with D'Amato, and how some of the gruesome gore was achieved using skinned rabbits and pig skin. Editor Bruno Micheli gives a brief recounting of his career working with D'Amato, co-editing with his sister, and touching on why he stopped working with D'Amato, describing him as a gifted man, though saying not quite as gifted a Fulci, lol. 


There's also a vintage interview with Actress Zora Kerova, not sure when this was filmed but she was still looking real good! She speaks about her early career in music and modeling, her work with D'Amato on this film, and her friendship with Tisa Farrow and George Eastman. All of the interviews are in Italian with English subtitling. 



The single-disc release comes housed in a cool-looking black Blu-ray keepcase with a 2-sided sleeve of artwork, we get the familiar illustration of George Eastman;s maniac chowing down on his own intestines, plus an alternate artwork featuring the wine-drenched character of Henriette emerging from the wine barrel with knife in hand, not sure if this is a new design or a vintage one, but I dig it, it's my preferred display option! The disc itself has has the Eastman gut-munching illustration on it. 


Special Features: 

- Don't Fear the Man-Eater- Interview with Writer/Star Luigi Montefiori a.k.a. George Eastman (13 min) 
- The Man Who Killed the Anthropophagus - Interview with Actor Saverio Vallone (14 min) 
- Cannibal Frenzy- Interview with FX Artist Pietro Tenoglio (6 min) 
- Brother and Sister in Editing- Interview with Editor Bruno Micheli (7 min) 
- Inside Zora's Mouth- Interview with Actress Zora Kerova (10 min) 
- Trailer 1 (3 min) 
- Trailer 2 (3 min) 
- Trailer 3 (2 min) 

Anthropophagous (1980) certainly deserves it's video nasty infamy, the gore is stomach-churning, but the movie is poorly made and a real slog at times, simmering for far too long before culminating in a satisfying spree of blood and guts. The new Blu-ray release from Severin looks about as good as it ever could, keeping an aged cinema cheese patina, with Severin packing in some cool extras.   


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