Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Anthropophagous(1980)d/Joe D'Amato

Aristede Massaccesi,Joe D'Amato,Fédérico Slonisco,Romano Gastaldi,he certainly had more aliases than one of the Manson girls.Whatever you choose to call the guy,he was obviously a director with an interesting body of work.Up until his death in 1999,D'Amato(what we'll call him here for now)helmed gialli,westerns,horror,porn,horror-porn,action,period pieces,really everything under the sun.In my opinion,he was at his best shooting pornography,but his small portfolio of horror films has generated an avid base of loyal fans worldwide,with this particular entry among most fan favorites.The Italian busta poster adorned my dining room wall for the past seven years,much to the chagrin of my ex-wife and later,to the delight of my ex-girlfriend!I gotta admit,there is something endearing about this movie,even if I still may not be able to put my finger on it after all these years.
You'd think those giant headphones might have deflected the chop...
A young couple is enjoying an afternoon at the beach with their mutt,the girl going for a swim while the guy lays back in the sand and rocks out to some disco broadcast over headphones slightly smaller than Terex Titan tires.Ironically he's too busy grooving to see her get pulled under,or hear her screams,OR see whatever is lumbering out of the frothy surf,dripping his girlfriend's blood.He gets a meat cleaver slightly smaller than a sheet of wood paneling planted in his skull.Meanwhile,a group of friends vacationing in Greece embarks on a boat tour of the islands for some much needed rest and relaxation.A nice enough oddball named Julie(Zora Kerova)hitches a ride with the two couples,as she plans to meet up with a pair of friends on one of the Aegeans herself.During the trip,she breaks out some tarot cards and gives readings for her new friends,but when the cards foretell doom for everyone aboard,she throws them overboard into the Mediterranean.When they dock for the night on one of the islands,they find the town mysteriously deserted,with no clues as to why,save for a woman who disappears into the shadows.Back on the boat,pregnant Maggie(Serena Grandi)who's twisted her ankle and stayed behind,is abducted by an unsavoury,unseen character who likes breathing heavily.
Sprain your ankle? Soak it three times a day in a bucket full of seawater.The phony-looking latex head is an optional bonus.
As the group investigates the abandoned buildings,they stumble across a bizzare journal that tells an awful tale of a hunger-crazed man who decided to start eating his family when food and contact from the mainland was cut off.They stumble into a hysterical blind girl,who's been hiding in a wine cask with a butcher knife for protection,who warns them that the grim reaper(Luigi Montefiori),the same oatmeal-faced cannibal from the journal, has murdered the entire population of the town and eaten them.Though blind,she has managed to stay alive all this time thanks to her keen sense of smell,knowing whenever this fiend approaches.Soon fate rings a ghoulish dinner bell,and one by one,the group is stalked,chopped,hacked,and munched by this madman until the mindblowing climax,which you'll have to see for yourself,if you have the stomach for it!
What's for dinner tonight,Luigi? Liver and mushed wombs?
Media Blasters did an admirable job in rereleasing this one in a two disc set,restoring two notorious previously cut sequences that I'll refrain from describing(hint:I've alluded to them in the screenshots,and even for a director noted for outrageousness,they're pretty friggin' outrageous!),and a whole slew of extras that any self-respecting horror buff will devour like so many baked lobstertails smothered in melted butter,kind of like your humble N dined on tonight at his father's place.Unfortunately allergic to shellfish,despite a lifelong affinity for such feasts,the violent reaction I tried to avoid by dummying up with Benadryl beforehand caught up with me,ending my Christmas Eve festivities prematurely,and nearly turning my toes up!Hope yours was more pleasant than mine,regardless.D'Amato followed this shocker up with Absurd in 1987,not technically a sequel,though Eastman/Montefiori insists that it is just that.Whatever the case may be,this entry is not bogged down by its shortcomings(the film score,one or two of the gore pieces)and is a true cult classic that must be seen to be believed.Don't let the average Wopsploitation score fool you.Get your hands on it!
Ever famished,the grim reaper(Luigi Montefiori)namnams his own gutty-wuts.


Nigel M said...

Yp wop,

Coincidence, but I watched this one for the nth time with my fellow blogger on pyrates at play via one of those online streams.

Anyhow- anthro thoughts!

D'Amato was a hack of the finest traditions of the hack. But he was a hack who could make facinating film, unlike some of the hacks who tie in with game franchises these days you could describe him as a bit of an auteur.

Anthro may be funded by porn (which it was) and it may have been written by Eastman in a weekend but it has such moments of brilliance that are hard to put a finger on. Example- forget the german couple on the beach with the dog for a second. There is one shot of an empty rowing boat near a headland. That alone is not just a beatiful shot but has an eerieness (the sea is not close to camera but the sound of water is heard close as though we can hear it lapping against the hull of the boat- it makes me wonder what we are hearing. Are we hearing what the couple hear? I doubt it. I think we are hearing what eastmans character hears.

Yet another moment of brilliance- the sequence in the woods during the thunderstorm, clearly shot in daylight though using lighting, exposure or filter to give the impression of night- the sequence is maybe not as effective as the texas chain wood chase scene but comes close.

How about the attic scene- pure magic- works on the level of the jump shocks that are now too much overused in modern horror instead of suspense. Anthro did have the suspense and delivered on that jump shock.

then tension-

the sequence in the well.

I think to be honest that d'amato could deliver on horror, though I am not an expert on his work beyond a few of the emanuelle films and the delightfully scuzzy Buio Omega.

I think anthro is a work of art and while it owes as much to eastmans writing as d'amatos direction it is a film that should be loved by horror fans. In that movie D'amato proved he could rival fulci in the horror stakes if he had chose to.

The documentary that comes with the 2 disc version is also great fun.

beedubelhue said...

Absolutely correct about Anthro's brilliant moments,certain scenes like the ones you spoke about,are loaded with atmosphere and tension.D'Amato had the skills to rise above the pack when he wanted to,but most of his talent gets lost in the shadow of the vast number of xxx films he directed,which as far as porn goes(and I'll occasionally indulge when the mood strikes me),are beautifully composed for the most part,and contain some of the most striking examples of the female form to ever have explicit sex in front of a camera in my opinion!The genre could definitely use a D'Amato or Fulci these days.

Balberith said...

This movie definitely had highs and laughable lows but it is a classic and well loved by myself(though Buio Omega is still favorite, even outside of D'Amato). Also a sad case of the cover art kind of ruining the final moments when you watch insanity take over as he begins to eat his own entrails.

Have you seen the Anthro 2? I managed to get a VHS of it as 'Zombie 6: Monster Hunter' and unfortunately it was a miss.

I am behind though because I have never seen any of his 'bow chicka bow wow' movies... Might need a recommendation from ya

Balberith said...

Eh, just noticed you mentioned it in the blog but as release 1987 so I glanced it over. I thought it was an earlier release???

beedubelhue said...

Yeah Vic,I've got the region 2 dvd,and besides some decent splatter(and a marvelous scene where goddess Annie Belle gets her head cooked in an oven!)there isn't much to speak of.As for D'Amato's porn,let me know.I've got a sizable ahem...collection of it.Hahaha

Balberith said...

Yeah the second had a few highlights but it wasn't as memorable as I would have wanted it to be. Yeah, I can't say I am suprised that you have a nice selection of wet flicks haha

beedubelhue said...

I've got the best of everything over here,haha.

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