Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper
It's not fear that tears you apart... it's him!
Year of Release: 1980
Also Known As: The Beast
Running Time: 87 minutes (1:27)
Director: Joe D'Amato
Tisa Farrow ... Julie
Saverio Vallone ... Andy
Serena Grandi ... Maggie
Margaret Mazzantini ... Henriette 'Rita'
Mark Bodin ... Daniel
Bob Larson ... Arnold
Rubina Rey ... Irina Karamanlis
Zora Kerova ... Carol
George Eastman ... Nikos Karamanlis
Joe D'Amato ... Bearded man exiting the cable car (uncredited)
A group of tourists take a boat ride to a deserted island. Once there, they discover that most of the residents have disappeared and soon find themselves being stalked by a malevolent presence. They try to uncover the mystery but nothing could possibly prepare them for what they would eventually find.
Anthropophagus, remindin' us that there's no such thing as a free lunch... unless you're into aborted baby back ribs an willin' to mash a pregnant woman's belly like an anvil on a tube of toothpaste 'til the veal squirts out. As you can see, we're talkin' serious educational opportunity here. But despite that, where this one really excels is in demonstratin' the consequences of lousy judgment, which I'd like to take this moment to share with you. First of all, even if you're reachin' middle-aged cat lady levels of loneliness an're feelin' less loved than a vibrator with a missin' battery cover, ain't no man important enough that he warrants running out into a lightning storm in the middle of the night in a city inhabited primarily by partially eaten corpses. Can't say that I really blame the Reaper for leavin' those layin' around though, I hate leftovers too. Second, if you ever happen upon a blind girl hidin' in a basement that's lookin' like Sissy Spacek durin' the prom sequence in Carrie swinging a kitchen knife an babblin' about "him", don't start wanderin' around the house alone any time one of the floorboards cuts a creaky fart. An third, Italians are so anti-authority that they'd sooner let their entire town be eaten by a creep who looks like his head caught on fire an had to be beaten out with a Brillo pad poncho than call the mainland for help. Now, I do not wanna have to mention this again, this kind of irrational behavior is why there're people still tryin' to build a case against evolution, it's pitiful.
That's all pretty obvious stuff if you think about it, an so is what I'm about to run down next, but I feel like it's just gotta be said; some people simply cannot be reasoned with. Now I'm pretty sure that if you've ever tried debatin' somebody who's used the words "Obama" and "Muslim" in the same sentence, you're prolly already aware of that fact, but in the movie one of these potatoheads ends up runnin' into the Reaper an tries appealin' to his sense of decency so he'll quit tryin' to slap two slices of bread on either side of his pregnant wife an turn 'er into a veal chop sandwich. So even though he doesn't know the Reaper's back story, it's a pretty reasonable assumption that since he's got this many corpses stashed in the back of the ole Frigidaire, he's prolly not real likely to have a sudden epiphany an hit the salad bar any time soon. It's also pretty reasonable to hypothesize that anybody with more corpses layin' around than a frat house basement is prolly a pretty hungry guy, so it's not too likely that you're gonna be the one to change 'im. Women have this same blind spot when it comes to guys named Mike the Spike who're always bein' picked on by the cops. I realize that I keep harpin' on this, but I really get tired of people thinkin' they can change somebody. Whether it's somethin' simple like cannibalism or somethin' far worse that generates a Cujo-esque rage froth like not washin' the cheese grater when you're finished, you're just wasting your breath tryin' to get through to these people.
The movie begins with an Italian couple takin' a stroll on a beach with their dog til they find a nice spot that ain't got any crabs sides the ones they've brought with 'em an pretty quick the guy hits the sand quicker'n camel spit so he can work on his tan. He's got this unfortunate skin disorder that causes 'im to be blindingly white an look American, so you can see why he wants to get as much topless time in as possible. The woman goes for a swim, but before too long the Jaws-cam starts swimmin' up underneath 'er as she's rootin' through an abandoned row boat. Then somethin' inside the boat that D'Amato D'Notshow scares the bejezus out of 'er an pretty quick the Jaws-cam grabs ahold of 'er ankle an starts makin' the ocean look like the Kool Aid man fell overboard without a life jacket. While this is goin' on, the guy's got his circa 1980 headset on an it's not only louder'n Michelle Obama when she catches one of 'er kids with a cookie, but it's so god damn heavy that the guy can't even sit up or roll away before the point of view butcher parts his hair with a meat cleaver. Elsewhere, a buncha Eurotrash kids that look like they've all got degrees in cosmetology an modern art're headed for their boat so they can all get on board an drive around the Mediterranean to see how much air they can get usin' dugongs as skate park ramps til one of 'em bumps into Tisa Farrow (Julie) an invites 'er to come along. Like she's got nothin' better to do than act in low budget Italian horror movies an... oh, right. So then they all hop in the SS Boned an start lookin' for an island that's got an Olive Garden while Carol gives Maggie a tarot card readin' an can't seem to figure out why the entire deck is full of Grim Reapers or why every readin' she does ends up lookin' like Ed Gein's autobiography an decides to just chuck the tarot cards overboard an take up Blackjack dealin'. Once they make landfall, Maggie immediately pretends to sprain her ankle so she won't have to be in the movie anymore an they end up leavin' 'er on the boat for the captain to babysit while they head into town to find out why Italian pizza an spaghetti suck so bad compared to the Americanized versions. Only when they get there the place's emptier'n a Texas juice bar an apparently somebody forgot to pay the phone bill back in 1962 so all they got's this telegraph that looks like the last time it got any use was to report a stagecoach robbery. Plus the goll durn thing don't even work on account of the repairman havin' starved to death due to a lack of any need for his chosen profession, so they're pretty much livin' in an Amish paradise at this point.
Then they all wander around like old people in a mall lookin' for anything that might keep 'em from havin' to go home an they end up spottin' this woman watchin' 'em from the buildin' across the street. Thing is, she don't wanna talk to 'em cause all the Americans she's met always talk too loud, never tip, an can't interact with an Italian without makin' hackneyed Godfather jokes an so they end up gettin' ditched like a 1972 Gremlin when the steerin' column goes out. Meanwhile, the boat captain's emptyin' Maggie's bed pan when somethin' just below the water's surface grabs ahold of it an starts tuggin' on it til he ends up goin' down with the shit an when Maggie goes to haul it back on board she realizes it's got a lot more severed head inside than she remembers an starts freakin' out like Joe Pesci on a bad acid trip. About that time, the Italian loafers back on the island notice their boat takin' off for a three hour tour without 'em an assume the captain must be a Rooskie or somethin' cause in Soviet Russia, ship abandon you. So since they've got their choice of all the residential suites, they head over to the place where Julia babysits this English bambina an while everybody's sleepin' she an Danny go to check out a noise an find the kid down in the basement havin' a knife fight with Claude Rains. Seems the girl's blind, though that don't stop 'er from slicin' Danny up like a red velvet birthday cake before the rest of the gang can pile downstairs an take the knife away while she's tryin' to skin Danny like Jame Gumb. Then Julia takes 'er upstairs an tells 'er if she's gonna act like Lizzie Borden she's gonna end up goin' to bed without 'er wine ration only she don't really care cause she can't stop babblin' about "him" an tells Julia she's sure he's around cause he smells like blood an Ragu Old World style. While that's goin' on, Andy an Arnie head back into town to find some Bactine so Danny's stab wound won't get infected an sprout a mustachio. Then, once Danny's fitted with his gauze toga, he decides that now's the time to tell Julia he wants to show 'er his pepperoni stick. Julia tries tellin' 'im that she refuses to date any Italian guy with a stab wound ever since she made the mistake of askin' Fredo about his work an had to join the witness protection program, but about that time Danny declares a lip war an starts tryin' to win 'er over just as Carol walks in.
Which is real awkward for Julia, cause Carol's had a crush on Danny since 'er first year at Milan Community College for the Supernaturally Inclined, only Danny don't want nothin' to do with 'er cause she don't look like a meatball stuck on a toothpick like those free samples they give away in the deli at the Piggly Wiggly an so Carol takes off like Ed Snowden anytime somebody doesn't address 'im as "comrade." Then Julia realizes she's stuck alone with Danny again an figures that even if she gets struck by lightnin' chasin' after Carol it'd still be an upswing in the overall quality of 'er trip an goes lookin' for 'er. Unfortunately, Carol ends up headin' towards Herman Munster's house an slammin' the gate behind 'er an Julia just kinda sits there in the rain makin' noises like a starvin' Cocker Spaniel til Andy an Arnie run into 'er an drag 'er back towards the house so she can clean the mascara out of 'er shoes. Meanwhile, Rita's Reaper sense starts tinglin' an pretty quick he lurches out from behind the door an turns Danny's jugular into minestrone til he hears the rest of the crew comin' up the stairs an has to take off before he can even shovel some left-overs into a doggie bag. The next mornin' the remainder of the gang head on over to The House on Haunted Hill to look for Carol, only once they go inside the only dame in town (she's Big Stanky's sister) jumps over the staircase railin' an hangs 'erself like an elk carcass in a meat locker. Then they head upstairs an find Carol an notice their boat's startin' to get homesick for land an so Andy an Arnie go after the boat while Julia starts goin' through everybody's underwear drawers til she finds the diary of a madman an pretty quick she gets this look on 'er face like she just crawled under a pay toilet stall an saw Billie Jean King lookin' down at 'er.
Meanwhile, outside, Andy an Arnie split up an Arnie goes into this cave beside the house an starts gettin' the idea that maybe he aughta get his hiney outta there when he realizes the place has more skeletons than Dick Cheney's closet til he finds Maggie layin' on a concrete slab. But about that time the Reaper gets back from the grocery store with the seasoning salt he went out for an starts eyeballin' 'em like a coupla Hungry Man TV dinners. Then Arnie tries convincin' the Reaper that he don't wanna eat 'em cause they're spicy Italians that'll give 'im third degree heart burn an the Reaper starts flashin' back to the time when he an his wife got lost at sea. Seems their son went to the big Toys 'R Us in the sky after their three hour tour went south an after a while the Reaper started droolin' like Cujo over the veal an his wife had to explain to 'im that if the kid's meat gets anywhere near his mouth that his meat wouldn't be gettin' anywhere near hers ever again. But the Reaper's pretty much gone full Starvin' Marvin by now an so he goes for it anyway an ends up stabbin' his wife by mistake an that's pretty much the moment where his mind started takin' the road less traveled. Somethin' else you might be interested to know, goin' cannibal evidently causes serious hair loss, cause this guy went from havin' James Brolin's hair cut to Hulk Hogan's in a matter of months. Then the Reaper gets his head screwed on straight again an shish-kababs Arnie like a goat flank an proceeds to strangle Maggie an perform an emergency V-section an... well, lets just say, I'm pretty sure the Reaper's not Jewish. Or at the very least, not practicin'. Back at the house, Carol an Julia start rootin' around in this secret room hidden behind a mirror where all these Klansmen musta settled into some La-z-boy recliners for a nap after Thanksgivin' dinner, only then the Reaper had *them* for dinner an Saran wrapped 'em in bed sheets to keep 'em from spoilin'. Then the Reaper goes all stealth Dahmer an sneaks up on everybody while they're lookin' at the dead Klansmen an starts tryin' to remember how many pounds per minute Julia Child recommends for obnoxious tresspassin' teenagers as they take off like Jamaicans on speed. Will cut here so as to not spoil the ending.
Alrighty, well, I'm gonna have to say that this one's a little over-rated. At least by horror fans; though the IMDB doesn't do it justice, as usual. It's just a bit too slow for me, and way too talkative. They've got an excellent villain who's portrayed well by the great Italian B movie actor, George Eastman, but he just doesn't get the kind of screen time necessary to keep the movie lively. It focuses way too much on the indistinct 20-somethings and just takes way too long to really get going. The first hour of the movie probably only warrants about a 40% rating, while the last half hour is significantly better, probably warranting at least a 75% rating, but by then they'd lost me. I think people who really enjoy it probably tend to remember the particularly memorable scenes, of which there are definitely a few (including a couple really original sequences that're some of the best I've ever seen), and forget about how long it takes before those great scenes actually occur. And the really weird thing about it is that despite taking forever to get to anything exciting, there isn't really any plot or character development happening during that time. It's bizarre that so much time could go by and have nothing at all to show for it, but that's the fact, Jack. Some people might call it a pot boiler, but that's only accurate if you consider the guy that flicked the switch on used the wrong burner dial an didn't notice until an hour later an by that point just decided to use the microwave instead. As far as pacing goes in a slasher style horror movie, I think Friday the 13th was probably the first movie to really get it right. Halloween was the better movie, but the pacing was slightly sluggish there. It's unfortunate that D'Amato didn't work from that example, otherwise I think this one would have been a lot better. They could probably have shaved 15 minutes off of this one and lost absolutely nothing while improving the pacing significantly, but that's just my opinion. Conversely, this was the first movie ever reviewed by my close, personal friend, Joe Bob Briggs, and he thought better of it than I did, so the point I'd most like to emphasize on this one is that; even though I find it slow, it's worth watching just to see these particularly memorable scenes I've mentioned, including the end sequence that I'm not going to spoil. Just because they're so impressive and well executed from a special effects point of view.
Okay then, lets mash the fetus outta this thing an remind everybody why George Eastman is the original king of baby consumption an that Fat Bastard is nothin' more than a pretender to the throne. The plot has less meat on it than the corpses in George's fridge, but as far as low budget horror goes, it's not really problematic. Guy gets lost at sea on a raft after his Carnival Cruise ship goes down like a truck stop hooker an ends up goin' cannibal after a week in the Italian sun. Good enough for me, though it's nothing special. The acting is pretty dull, nobody besides George really stands out an he's only in the movie for about seven minutes, so we're talkin' pretty unremarkable here. It's not bad, it's just really mediocre and doesn't add anything to the movie, and when there's virtually no character development you can't empathize with anyone except for maybe the blind girl.
The list of credits is pretty long, though the bulk of it is for dubbing. Here's who matters and why: Tisa Farrow (Zombi 2), Serena Grandi (Delirium, The Adventures of Hercules II), Mark Bodin (Alien 2: On Earth), Bob Larson (Raiders of the Sun, Bloodeaters), George Eastman (Metamorphosis 1990, Delirium, The Barbarians, Endgame: Bronx lotta finale, 2019: After the Fall of New York, Warriors of the Wasteland, Ironmaster, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Absurd, Porno Holocaust, Sexy Nights of the Living Dead, Baby Yaga Devil Witch), Zora Kerova (Hansel e Gretel, Luna di sangue, Il fantasma di Sodoma, Touch of Death, Warriors of the Wasteland, The New York Ripper, Cannibal Ferox), Joe D'Amato (Sick-o-pathics, Porno Holocaust, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals), Carolyn De Fonseca (Did dubbing work on: The Fishmen and their Queen, Killer Crocodile 2, Alien from the Deep, Il giustiziere del Bronx, Demons 6: De Profundis, Phenomena, The Scorpion with Two Tails, Pieces, The New York Ripper, Piranha II, Absurd, The House by the Cemetery, Murder Syndrome, Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror, Hell of the Living Dead, Macabre, Beyond the Darkness, Torso, Don't Torture a Duckling, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, Blade of the Ripper, The Last Man on Earth) Susan Spafford (Did dubbing work on: The Tomb, Cannibal World, The Mummy Them Park, Touch of Death, Devil Fish, I guerriera dell'anno 2072, The Raiders of Atlantis, Yor the Hunger from the Future, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Warriors of the Wasteland, Pieces, Absurd, Cannibal Ferox, The Last Shark, Murder Syndrome, Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror, Hell of the Living Dead, House on the Edge of the Park, City of the Living Dead, Contamination, Zombie Holocaust, Eaten Alive!, The Great Alligator, Zombi 2, Torso, Don't Torture a Duckling, Blade of the Ripper), Pat Starke (Did dubbing work on: The Mummy Theme Park, Killer Crocodile, After Death, Dial: Help, Vampire in Venice, Cannibal Holocaust II, The Barbarians, White Slave, Devil Fish, The Ark of the Sun God, The Pod People, The Raiders of Atlantis, Escape from the Bronx, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Ironmaster, The Scorpion with Two Tails, Pieces, The New York Ripper, 2020 Freedom Fighters, Absurd, Cannibal Ferox, Murder Syndrome, Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror, Nightmare City, Hell of the Living Dead, House on the Edge of the Park, City of the Living Dead, Zombie Holocaust).
The special effects as a whole are pretty good. There're couple that don't measure up, like the boat captain's severed head in the bucket, or the hackneyed bat on a string in the catacombs, but for the most part, they range from good to great. The throats that're ripped open both look pretty good, as do the stab wounds, but those are really just the warm up acts for this movie. Where the special effects really shine are the almost completely formed fetus that George Eastman mashes outta Serena Grandi, and the effects featured in the climax. Those're not only fantastic gross out scenes, but really well executed to boot. The baby in the amniotic sac was actually a skinned rabbit, and the sac keeps it obscured just enough that the overall shape is about right, but you can't really see it well enough to grasp exactly what it is. It was, of course, those two scenes that landed it on the Video Nasty list that Britain had goin' back in the 80s, and apparently the fetus special effect was realistic enough that the BBC falsely reported it as a legitimate snuff scene at the time of its release. What is it with people constantly accusing Italian horror directors of doin' this kinda thing? Same thing happened with Cannibal Holocaust. In a way it's rather flattering I suppose. But anyway, really good special effects. The forehead psoriasis on George Eastman's character is pretty disgusting too, nicely done. The shooting locations are alright, though we've got quite a bit of indoor stuff that doesn't particularly appeal to me. The catacomb where George keeps all his vittles is easily the best, and was apparently attached to some old church. Amusingly, when D'Amato and company were cleaning up after finishing the sequence in there they scooped up some real bones by mistake and Joe ended up keeping them on account of how awkward it is to try and return somebody's bones after the fact. But the shooting locations are alright, the deserted village on the Greek island has some interesting architecture that isn't the kind of thing an American audience is used to seeing, so that's a plus. The soundtrack, very honestly, is pretty bad, and is at its worst when it's the focal point of the scene. Basically, the farther into the background it gets, the better. Occasionally it reminded me of Dawn of the Dead, which was performed by the Italian band Goblin, but not nearly often enough to save it. Also, Dawn of the Dead had a lot of comedic sequences, where this movie doesn't, so that's probably not a good thing. It's also got some classic horror style organ music that isn't too bad, but then you've got the scenes that sound like they were composed by the aliens from Close Encounters while they were havin' seizures. So I'm sorry, but the soundtrack's just bad on this one. Overall, it's over-rated, but still decent, and still recommended for at least a single viewing. But do be sure to pick up the Shriek Show DVD, otherwise you'll miss all the reasons for watching it.