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Tourists take a boat to a remote island, where they find that most of the people have disappeared, and something is stalking them. They find a hidden room in the big mansion on a hill, and an ancient diary, which gives them clues to the source of the terror. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
There's evil on this island. An evil that won't let us get away. An evil that sends out an inhuman, diabolic power. I sense its vibrations now. The vibrations are an intense horror. It will destroy us! The very same way it did all the others!
Shut up, Carol!
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I tend to shy away from Joe D'Amato's more sleaze & sex orientated efforts. But I don't mind giving his horror outings a watch. Up until now, I thought "Buio Omega" (aka "Beyond The Darkness") was about the only film I found to really live up to its notorious reputation, while still being a reasonably good film. And as far as I'm concerned, after just having watched "Atropophagus", it still is the only one. Plain and simple, "Antropophagus" was a mild disappointment of the boring kind. It couldn't fascinate me the way "Buio Omega" did, mainly because it drags in so many places, it becomes tedious very quick. So, a bunch of characters on a holiday - all good folks, as they don't drink alcohol, they don't smoke, do drugs or have sex either - get stranded on a Greek island. Not ship wrecked, just stranded as they loose their boat. They find an abandoned village, decide to spend the night there, and rather later than sooner, some mysterious killer starts abducting and killing them off one by one. It takes even longer for them to figure out exactly what's going on behind their backs.
Now, D'Amato sure knows how to present us grisly images, creepy settings and at times inject his film with a bit of atmosphere. He also knows how to make gore look good on screen. But building up tension, clearly isn't his strongest skill (he does try, but doesn't really succeed). Also, the man has absolutely no clue how to make a decent film (with an interesting plot or how to construct a proper mystery) nor does he know how to get on with the story. The acting is awful, the dialogues are close to moronic and the movie suffers too often from scenes in which nothing is going on, really, and even senseless & illogical things occur. Like for instance, those two guys deciding to leave the village to go down to the beach to try and look for someone who was still left on the boat. Now, instead of walking down the hill, to the sea, one of them is suddenly seen walking up the mountain for no apparent reason, only to find some ruins of a castle. Him finding them by coincidence, is very convenient to the plot, of course, as it proves to be one of the hideouts of George Eastman, our demented Cannibal Man from the title of this film. And when it comes to his character, I'll admit I was thankful they gave him some sort of background story, as to why he became what he is. Though it was a very thin explanation, with little info and no elaborations, at least there was one. That did put my fear for this being merely a film about an unknown cannibalistic lunatic (of whom we learn nothing) on some island to rest.
On the other hand, the subplot about the mysterious woman in black was severely - shamefully, even - underused. Of course, you suspect from the get-go that she has certain ties with Eastman's character, but all she ever does, is stand behind a couple of windows. Well, actually, she does something else too (later on in the film), her act making up for a fine, short-lived scene. But what she does, doesn't add anything to her character, nor the story. To switch to a positive note again, Eastman's make-up was good. It really succeeds in making him look gruesome and menacing.
Then there was that one scene, earlier in the film, when a couple was investigating a basement. Another highlight, that's at the same time also a low-point. Suddenly and very obviously, some set assistant out of frame, just throws a kitten on a piano. A fantastic fake jump scare, of course. Well done, D'Amato! But then, the real shock-scare comes on, and that one really is priceless. Behind our couple, is a barrel. Suddenly, a woman covered in blood from head to toe, jumps out, screaming, waving a knife. Great shock-moment, I agree. But only if you don't think about it. If you do, for a second, then explain this to me: The barrel was filled to the top with blood - I presume, or was it wine? Inside, was a woman (waiting to jump out). Now all that time our couple was searching the basement, that woman was holding her breath in that barrel of blood? Or was she drinking the wine? This is typically D'Amato throwing logic and plausibility out the window, only to favor presenting us his precious shock-moment. It turns a cool moment, into sheer stupidity.
The musical score was at times, uh, both amusing and interesting. The big mansion near the end was a great location. And the film had that typical late 70's/early 80's gritty feel to it. But it takes more than all this to make a good film, doesn't it? The couple of death scenes we do see, are fine and bloody, with decent make-up effects. And the two most notorious gory shock-moments (which only happen near the end), are well worth seeing. But the whole film really isn't worth sitting through just for that. You might just ask a friend who was the film, to show you the nasty bits and be done with it. But make sure it's the complete uncut version.
I understand the cult following this film has (D'Amato, George Eastman and the few gory bits, I imagine), and I am glad I finally saw it myself (it is kind of a must-see, if you are into obscure & vintage Italian exploitation horror). But I can't say I watched a good film here. I would like to flunk it, even, but looking at it from all possible perspectives, I find myself able to conclude that as an exploitive shock horror feature, trying to be sickening & unsettling (and hoping to upset your stomach), well... it does succeed. So there you have it.
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