The connoisseurs of all things sleazy at Severin Films have blessed genre film fans with a duo of Blu-ray releases sure to satisfy the most discerning gorehounds this Fall. A double feature of gut-munching, ultra gore masterpieces by Italian legend Joe D'amato, Anthropophagous (AKA Antropophagus, AKA The Grim Reaper) and Absurd, both written by and starring the devilishly handsome George Eastman.
Having previous written about several Joe D'amato atrocities like the Laura Gemser classic Violence in a Women's Prison, I thought I was somewhat prepared for finally tackling these notorious Video Nasties that I've somehow managed to miss for my entire life.
I was wrong.
Anthropophagous, a film that is in the running for the title of 'most disgusting Joe D'Amato feature', is a film that more than deserves its impressively repulsive reputation.
Things go horribly sideways for a group of Italian friends who decide to take a trip to Greece for a bit of rest and relaxation. The troop, including an expectant couple, a tarot card reader, and a random hanger on, end up on a largely abandoned island in the off season. Very shortly after arriving, they find themselves the prey of a nasty, violent killer with a taste for human flesh. Several of the friends head off to explore the abandoned township and one by one fall prey to a savage cannibal killer, who wants nothing more than to consume them all, body and soul.
Anthropophagous is a product of a very unique time in Italian genre cinema. Made in the midst of both the cannibal and zombie booms of the late '70s-early '80s, the film straddles the two genres and incorporates the most disgusting aspects of each into a film that is sure to shock and sicken most viewers. Personally, however, I found it to be very entertaining. The Italians were never ones to skimp on the gore, whether it looked good or not, and with this film, FX artist Pietro Tenoglio was given carte blanche to create some truly disgusting effects and his results are wonderful. Not to give away too much, but the literal gut-munching and a particularly nasty end for a pregnant woman are particular highlights of this gruesome feast.
The film was written by legend of Italian genre cinema, George Eastman (Luigi Montefiore), who also appears as the titular Grim Reaper. Eastman was a multi-hyphenate in a time when Italian genre cinema couldn't churn out product fast enough for the market's demands. He appears on screen only for about thirty minutes of the film's ninety minute run time, but his massive six-foot nine-inch silhouette is intimidating by anyone's standards and he definitely makes an impression.
Anthropophagous is one of those films that I'd heard so much about for so many years that I was worried that the reality couldn't possibly live up to the legend, but thankfully I was proven wrong. This is a disgusting little gem, given new life by the heroes at Severin.
Severin Films' Blu-ray release of Anthropophagous may not be the first, but I'm relatively certain that it's the best in the world. Colors and detail are exceptional in this release, giving even more vivid life to the film's gruesome details. They've included both an English and an Italian language soundtrack, and since Italian films of this vintage were invariably post-synced, you can pick your poison.
The team at Severin have included several meaty interviews for fans to pick through. The highlight is an interview with Eastman, who is appreciative but sincerely baffled by the film's continued life among fans. Also interviewed are stars Saverio Vallone and Zora Kerova, along with FX artist Tenoglio and editor Bruno Micheli. It's a comprehensive package that does a super gross film serious justice. Highly recommended.