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Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/25/2018
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/26/2018
I've been reviewing movies for decades and I still find it rewarding, although, to be honest, sometimes it is challenging work. Crafting a (hopefully) clever opening and creating an honest critique of the film can be time-consuming. The easiest part is writing the plot synopsis, as I simply boil down the key points of the story. However, there are some movies where, as I'm writing the overview of the plot, I'm convinced that someone is going to accuse me of making it up, as it sounds so far-fetched. But, as I've learned over the years, there are a lot of wacky, made-up sounding movies out there, and Absurd may be the cream of the crop.
It's the night before Super Bowl Sunday and a large man (George Eastman) is being chased through the darkness by another man (Edmund Purdom). The first man attempts to climb a wrought-iron fence and becomes impaled on the top. With his guts spilling out all over the place, the man enters the Bennett house, and collapses. He's taken the hospital, where the doctors aren't convinced that he will make it (Well, not with that attitude.). So, Dr. Kramer (Ted Rusoff) is surprised when the man's blood quickly coagulates and he begins to heal. Meanwhile, Sergeant Engelman (Charles Borromel) has apprehended the other man, who turns out to be a priest. The priest explains that the first man was the result of some sort of experiment by the church who escaped the lab and is practically unstoppable. While all of this is going on, the first man, who we learn is named Mikos, has escaped from the hospital and made his way back to the Bennett house in order to kill as many people as he can...all while decent people are trying to watch the Super Bowl!
(There, does that sound made up enough for you?)
Rarely will you find a movie as accurately titled as Absurd, as this one is all over the place. It's viewed by many as an unofficial sequel to Director Joe D'Amato's Anthropophagus, as both have the same star and similar stories, but Absurd is better than that other snooze-fest. (The fact that Absurd opens with Eastman being disemboweled is a nice nod to Anthropophagus.) Whereas Anthropophagus was more of a monster movie (sort of), it's easy to imagine that with Absurd, D'Amato (who hit just about every genre and sub-genre in his career) was trying to mimic the slasher films which were coming out of America. And he somehow made one of the weirdest slasher movies ever.
For starters, most killers in these films wear some sort of mask. Mikos simply runs around in a button-down shirt (which is unbuttoned...a little something for the ladies), jeans, and Pumas. I'm glad to see that he bought into the spirit of casual day. The subplot concerning Mikos being created in a lab by the church and how he's now indestructible is simply dropped into our laps in one scene and nary is an explanation for this offered. (It's interesting to note that the 1982 Chuck Norris film Silent Rage would have a very similar plot.) The Bennett family includes Willy (Kasimir Berger), an annoying, curly-haired boy, and Katia (Katya Berger), a girl who is confined to her bed in a tortuous-looking device due to her spine. Marvel at the scene in which a frightened Willy bangs on Katia's door for several minutes, demanding to be let inside. Dude, you know that she can't get out of that bed! Stop knocking! And the whole Super Bowl angle is truly weird. This is obviously an attempt to make us think that the film is taking place in America. But, how many Super Bowl parties have you been to where the women are wearing dresses and high-heels and the men are wearing suits? Not enough, that's how many.
For all of its bizarreness, Absurd is still a watchable movie, something which can't be said for many of its brethren. You stick with the first half, just to see where this movie could possibly be going, and then hang in there for the second half when the action finally begins. There's nothing remotely scary or creepy here, but D'Amato does manage to eek out some suspense as Mikos stalks his victims. Of course, being a D'Amato movie, there's some violence against women here. The gore isn't necessarily unsettling, but the treatment of women is. If you approach Absurd with the question, "What would it look like if an Italian director known for exploitation movies attempted to make Halloween II?", then you'll be in the right frame of mind to enjoy this oddity.
Absurd made me wonder if the cops would give me a car on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Severin Films. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 33 Mbps. This release offers a new 2K scan from the original negative. The image is sharp and clear, showing a very small amount of grain and scant defects from the source materials. The care which went into this transfer really shows in the darker scenes, as they are very well-balance and the action is always visible. The colors look good and feel realistic. The picture is somewhat soft at times, but the depth is notable -- this avoids the flat look which can plague films of this era. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio mono track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.8 Mbps. The track doesn't offer any dynamic audio effects, but it does deliver clear dialogue and sound effects. The music never overpowers the actors and there is no hissing or popping here.
The Absurd Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extras. We begin with "The Return of the Grim Reaper" (31 minutes) is a modern-day interview with actor Luigi Montefiori AKA George Eastman. He starts by talking about his history with Director Aristide Massaccesi AKA Joe D'Amato AKA Peter Newton. From there, he specifically addresses Absurd and talks about his experiences on the movie. "D'Amato on Video" (20 minutes) is an archive interview with Massaccesi who gives an overview of his career, and touches on many of his famous movies. "A Biker (Uncredited)" (18 minutes) offers an interview with Italian actor/director Michelle Soavi, who has a very small part in Absurd. He talks about his relationship with Massaccesi and how he came to be in the movie. The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long