Alternative Titles: The Beast; The Grim Reaper; Zombie 7; Man Eater; The Savage Island; Gomia, Terror en el Mar Egeo
Director: Aristide Massacccesi aka Joe D’Amato
Writer: Luigi Montefiori aka George Eastman
Starring: George Eastman, Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Margaret Mazzantini
A group of tourists arrive on a desolate Greek island where they are stalked by an insane, violent, and grotesque killer that slaughtered the town’s former residents.
This video nasty came out at the peak (volume wise) of the Italian splatter boom and ANTHROPOPHAGOUS was co-written as part of a flurry of productivity by Joe D’Amato and George Eastman who would work together both in front and behind the screen of several films including EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980) and ABSURD (1981), a loose sequel to this film.
ANTHROPOPHAGOUS kicks off with the deaths of, if the dubbing is to be believed, a German couple at the beach and this set up includes a shot clearly indebted to JAWS. As always D’Amato sets his stall out early treating us to a particularly brutal killing as a hatchet meets a head. Unfortunately however the film drops down a notch quite soon after thanks to the obligatory introduction of our pretty nondescript main cast and the tag-along character whose role it is to disrupt the group dynamic and become the catalyst for the story, much to the chagrin of medium Carol, one of the few memorable personalities in the group.
Things continue at a pedestrian pace as the group arrive on a Greek island and the inevitable group separation occurs. By this point it becomes clear that on this occasion not only are Eastman and D’Amato failing on the dialogue front but they aren’t faring much better on the suspense stakes either. Although utilising staling POV shots to try and imbue a feeling of danger the result disappointingly only manages to stir boredom in the viewer.
That said credit has to go to George Eastman for his on-screen portrayal of the maniacal, dishevelled Nico. Perfectly cast in this role due to his size and the fantastic make up, coming across as a murderous insane tramp, you can really see the loss of humanity in his character. Something that is further reinforced in a flashback scene as to how the poor wretch lost his mind, and it is moments like this that show flashes of quality that we know are there…somewhere. Genre fans might also be tempted to give this a try thanks to the casting of Tisa Farrow (ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS), the debut of Serena Grandi (DELERIUM; THE GREAT BEAUTY) and Zora Kerova (THE NEW YORK RIPPER; CANNIBAL FEROX).
But before you rush off and buy this film, barring a few moments of excitement to break up the monotony the film only really comes to life in it’s final act. It is in this portion of the film we witness an iconic scene, not just for the film but perhaps the whole video nasty period.
Known for its gore and reputation, the film does deliver these goods on several occasions as throats are torn, foetuses (well, skinned rabbits) are eaten and bowels spilled but unfortunately the pacing is way off making for a very tedious and uneven film for which the very patient viewer is rewarded but barely enough to have made the first fifty minutes of tedium worthwhile.
Therefore ANTHROPOPHAGOUS is disappointingly less than the sum of its parts. The all but deserted locale, the mystery of the island (it is beginning to sound like they had one premise for this and EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD and two directions to take it resulting in these two films) are so poorly explored in a cinematic context that our protagonists spend too much time walking around and without the opportunity to cut in random erotic scenes D’Amato seems at a loss as to what to do or what to show in order to keep the movie flowing or the interest up.
Arguably by making something more focused and more like a straight horror, D’Amato loses that element of excitement as he fails to replace those tawdry erotic elements that would define and dominate so many of his other films. Many fans will get bored on more than one occasion during this film and despite its video nasty reputation only one scene is truly shocking. But some people are seemingly big fans of this film and so if you are still intrigued we recommend you pick up the 88 Films release due to the picture quality and the 42nd STREET MEMORIES documentary extra.
Oh and as a side note the musical score for this film is simply grating.