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Mr. Joe D'Amato is a name known and loved by gore-hounds and Euro-trash enthusiasts the world over. By and large lame special effects and a lack of coherency are the hallmarks of his movies. Not so Anthropophagous! Though the action starts a bit late, and the overall execution is not always great, this is a must-see for the right crowd, and one that had escaped my TV, (though not my attention) lo these many decades from its release. As they say, 'every bookshelf has a few missing volumes', but this one will now take its rightful space, in this uncut-for-the-first-time-in-America, 2K edition from Severin Films.
Only Uncle Joe would start a movie with a sudden, clunky zoom-out shot, from a bunch of cacti to a castle, but that's how he chooses to set up the vacation of a bunch of hapless bourgeoisie. The original title card reads The Savage Island, the destination for our heroes and a hitch-hiking hottie on her way to meet some friends. Of course things go quickly and inorganically wrong from the get-go, as the pregnant vacationer twists her ankle the second she gets off the boat.
Omens abound, but cognizant viewers won't really care. Just bring on the gore already! However, to espouse such an attitude misses the point, slightly, as D'Amato (Aristide Massaccesi) cranks out not only a serviceable plot with some solid ideas, but also a raft of pretty good performances! In particular, Zora Kerova (who has done more than her share of horror) shines as intense psychic Carol, bringing well more than its share of verisimilitude to the role. Tisa Farrow and good old George Eastman also show up, among others, meaning that if the movie takes half its run-time working up a head of steam, you probably won't even notice!
Then Eastman (Luigi Montefiori to his countrymen) shuffles on in, the cursed patriarch of another unfortunate family to visit the Savage Island, and the ragu starts flying. There's a thunderstorm! There's a jump-scare, with a cute kitten no less! And the romantic subplot that might have actually sucked you in, spits you out again, right in the face of some lovely throat-chewing, impromptu obstetrics, and confused gut-munching. Seriously, the look on Eastman's face as he tucks in to the offal indicates a performer taking it to the absolute limit. Which is what Anthropophagous does, well earning its status as a 'Video Nasty'. It's sleazy, sloppy, sickening, and Highly Recommended.
This 2k scan from the original 16mm negative arrives in a 1.85:1 ratio, rendering the film better-looking than ever before. Damage has been mostly cleaned up though is still present from time to time. The film by nature is a little soft, with plenty of film-grain in evidence. Details run the expected gamut, with things looking pretty good in close-up and medium shots. Black levels are OK, not great, and reveal some crush upon occasion, but are nothing to complain about, especially when compared to early VHS releases under any number of titles. Colors are naturalistic, and reds stand out proudly, though otherwise things are a tad washed-out. Overall, the movie should please most discerning viewers.
English and Italian 2.0 DTS-HD Audio tracks are on hand. Both tracks sound fine, and are mixed so that dialog is clear and not in competition with the sometimes corny, sometimes effective soundtrack. Spatial dynamics are average, while damage and distortion are pretty well absent.
Severin does a decent job with extras, though nothing spectacular is to be found. Trailers highlighting the film's different release titles are included, as is an 8.5 x 11 inch Poster (with reverse one-sheet) for the movie. Five Interviews are also included, with George Eastman getting 13 minutes to reveal some secrets, (spoiler: he's ashamed of the movie) while lead actor Saverio Vallone rambles in his own interview, for 13 minutes as well. Special effects artist Pietro Tenoglio outlines a few of his contributions, very quietly, for 5 minutes, and editor Bruno Micheli waxes on for 12 minutes too. Lastly, Zora Kerova talks fondly of her costars for 10 minutes. As she refers to Luigi Montefiori as 'Gigi', it occurs to me the man would make a great Jason Voorhees. (That's just an aside from me to you.)
A commentary track or making-of documentary would make this an outstanding release, though in their absence, this slate of extras will have to do.
Sleazy, sloppy, and sickening, the legendary gut-muncher Anthropophagous has likely never looked, better. Its simple tale of a cannibalistic ghoul manages to eke out good performances and an engaging plot (a rarity for D'Amato's horror efforts) before doling out the gore. A few more extras would make this Euro-trash a necessity for your horror shelf, but as it stands, this Severin Films release is still Highly Recommended for sickos of distinction.
- Kurt Dahlke