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Anthropophagus (1980)

Severin Films
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/25/2018

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/1/2018

When most people speak, they reveal that they have no idea what they are talking about. A great example is how individuals will confuse "famous" with "infamous". Not in the use of these words per se, but in their meaning. People will assume that something is well-known because it is "famous", when they really mean to say that the only reason that anyone's heard of the thing in question is that it's "infamous". Even among horror movie fans, Joe D'Amato isn't a household name and many have not seen the film Anthropophagus (save for those who saw it in the 1980s under its home video title "The Grim Reaper"). But, those who have seen the movie will remember it for one specific scene, cemented the film as being "infamous". Is that a good thing?

Julie (Tisa Farrow) is attempting to get to a specific island near Greece, when she meets fellow travelers Andy (Saverio Vallone), Maggie (Vanessa Steiger), Rita (Margaret Donnelly), Daniel (Mark Bodin), and Arnold (Bob Larson). As this group is already going sailing, Julie convinces them to take her to the island. Once there, they find the place to be deserted. They walk around the small, hilly village and only find two people. While they are trying to put together the pieces of what occurred on the island, they soon realize that they are being stalked by a blood-thirsty beast.

If there's one thing that can be said for European filmmakers, it's that they are certainly fortunate to have easily accessible locations which provide instant production value. The tight, winding corridors of the island village create a unique setting and give the movie a look that we don't often see in horror films. We can also apply this idea to the skyway viewed in the first act. There is also a well-suited ancient cemetery used in a key scene. Director Joe D'Amato doesn't always demonstrate the best visual style, but he does have enough sense to let these natural locales speak for themselves.

As the locations are able to speak for themselves, perhaps they should have been allowed to write the screenplay as well, D'Amato and Eastman don't bring much to the story here. The film has a central idea, but that's about it. We are introduced to the characters, we see them on a boat, and then we spend the bulk of the film watching them wander from location to location. Here's a further breakdown of what is happening: the island is deserted, they figure out that someone has murdered everyone, we learn the killer's vague motivation, and then the movie ends. European films are notorious for being slow and Anthropophagus proudly carries on that tradition, by offering scene-after-scene where not much happens.

So, why is this movie well-known and what landed it on the "Video Nasty" list? There is some mild gore in the opening and in the third act, but most of it is more tame than things which we routinely see on The Walking Dead today. As noted above, there is one scene in the movie which is truly shocking. Not necessarily for its execution, but for the truly twisted concept it sets forth. Remove this scene from the movie (which actually happened in most territories) and you have a rather sedate and pedestrian movie. If anything, the most shocking thing about Anthropophagus, which means cannibal, is how the film doesn't live up to its title. We see the killer bite some people, but little eating is done.

Anthropophagus is one of those movies which is celebrated by some horror fans, but it just leave me scratching my head. What about the scene in which the blind girl has somehow been hiding in a barrel which is full of water. (She lost her sight, but gained the ability to breathe underwater?) Or what about the moment in which an off-screen stagehand clearly throws a bat at one of the actors? And not since The Hideous Sun Demon has a bad sunburn been one of the apparent driving forces behind a killer's rage. I'm sure that plenty will seek out Anthropophagus for that one scene and wonder what the 89 minutes are supposed to be about.

Anthropophagus introduces us to the very liberal policies at Greek pharmacies on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Severin Films. The film has been windowboxed at 1.66:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The new 2K scan was taken from the original 16mm negative (where the on-screen title is "The Savage Island"). The image is sharp and clear, showing only a small amount of grain and no overt defects from the source materials. Like many 16mm films, we get nice colors here, featuring life-like tones. Some scenes border on being dark, but the action is always visible. There is a hint of softness here, but the image shows nice depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a mono track, we don't get any stand-out effects here. But, the track does provide solid, well-balanced audio in which we can hear the actors and the sound effects, which neither being drowned out by the music.

The Anthropophagus Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extra features. "Don't Fear the Man-Eater" (13 minutes) offers a modern-day interview with actor Luigi Montefiori AKA George Eastman who talks about his relationship with Director Aristide Massaccesi AKA George Eastman. He states, "The first version of Anthropophagus was awful." What must that have been like? He then gives an honest view of the film. "The Man Who Killed the Anthropophagus" (14 minutes) is modern-day interview with actor Saverio Vallone, who shares his memories of the movie. "Cannibal Frenzy" (6 minutes) allows FX Artist Pietro Tenoglio to discuss his work on the film. Editor Bruno Micheli talks about cutting the movie along with his sibling in "Brother and Sister in Editing" (13 minutes). "Inside Zora's Mouth" (10 minutes) is a really weird title for an interview with actress Zora Kerova. The extras are rounded out by three TRAILERS.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long