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Well, I FINALLY got to see this infamous shocker after hearing about it for years. 'Antropophagus' a.k.a. 'The Grim Reaper' is one of the most despised and loathed of all the so-called "video nasties", and director Joe D'Amato seems to be regarded as little more than a figure of fun for many. The people who hate this movie usually call it "boring", "dull", "too slow", and so on for the most part, and then complain about the bad taste of the two infamous gore scenes towards the end. One involving a pregnant woman, the other the killer. I won't go into any detail regarding either scene so as to not lessen their shock value. Now, the strange thing is I inadvertently watched the DVD of 'The Grim Reaper' which cut both of these scenes out, and while I was sorely disappointed not seeing them, I didn't find the rest of the movie dull at all. In fact I thought the movie managed to create quite an effective feeling of dread and suspense throughout. While I don't think the movie is as strong as Fulci's 'Zombie' (which also starred Tisa Farrow), I enjoyed it a lot more than say, 'Zombie Holocaust', which is generally rated higher by many hard core horror fans. So make of that what you will. My advice though is try and see the original uncut 'Antropophagus' for maximum effect.
Immediately banned in many countries after its release, Joe D'Amato's
Italian Gore Classic "Antropophagus" of 1980 is a truly disturbing and
immensely scary video nasty, and fans of ultra-violent and nasty Horror
should not be disappointed. Potential viewers have to be warned,
however: You need a strong stomach for this! The uncut version of
"Antropophagus" features some of the most graphic and disturbing and
goriest acts of violence you will ever see in a movie, and if there was
a ranking of the most out there gore scenes ever brought to screen,
this sick little flick would easily make it in the top 10! I don't want
to give the most shocking scenes away, but I assure that anyone about
to watch this flick can prepare for extremely horrid gore scenes.
A couple of tourists travel to a Greek island which they find deserted at their arrival. It quickly becomes clear that something evil is haunting the place. Something with an appetite for human flesh...
Whether you like it or not, "Antropophagus" is a movie that you will not forget quickly! In case you don't like gore this is not your type of film, but in case you do, avoid any censored version and watch this demented Cult-sicko uncut. There is simply no point in watching cut versions of Exploitation-King Joe D'Amato's movies, and "Antropophagus" in particular is a movie that is intended to shock, so the uncut version is essential. Apart from its shocking violence, "Antropophagus" maintains a very scary atmosphere, and its cast includes many familiar faces for Italian Horror fans, such as Tisa Farrow and George Eastman (whom Spaghetti Western fans might also know).
In case you are easily offended, avoid this movie! But if you're a fan of Italian Gore films and Exploitation, you should certainly not miss this one! I advise my fellow Horror-fans to get a beer, lean back and start to enjoy the sick imagination of Joe D'Amato... When the movie reaches its climax, you will only be using the edge of your chair!
This is a pretty cool movie, although I do reckon that you need to be a little sick in the head in order to truly enjoy Joe D'Amato's wicked imagination. "Antropophagus" (LOVE the title!!) is a notorious video-nasty because it contains shock-sequences that ...well...aren't exactly for the squeamish! The pivot figure is a savage and bloodthirsty man that prowls a Greek island (Greek islands are dangerous tourist places apparently...anyone remember 'Island of Death'?) and devours pretty much everything and everyone that crosses his path. The film focuses on the encounter between this maniac and a group of young tourists that coincidentally strand on the island. Apart from the downright nauseating gore (he eats a fetus, for Christ's sake!), this is a rather suspenseful and atmospheric Italian horror film that surely ranks among D'Amato's best work, alongside "Beyond the Darkness" and "Death Smiles at Murder". In case you're a fellow Italian horror fanatic, you'll love the cast that includes George Eastman, Tisa Farrow and Serena Grandi. True, there are some really tedious moments to sit through but the gore is rewarding and the music is terrific. There equally is some gratuitous sleaze to enjoy, as well as some nice photography. Due to its violent and raw nature, "Antropophagus" is one of the most cut films ever. Avoid any version that says "Grim Reaper" on the cover because that's the version that leaves out all the sweet nastiness you're so desperately looking for :)
Being a rather jaded horror/exploitation fan, rarely do I find anything
that actually shocks me or scares me to the core (although there are
some D'Amato films I refuse to ever watch!). I was rather disappointed
with his "masterpiece" Buio Omega, so I didn't have high hopes for this
one, either. But when I found a copy of Anthropophagus, I couldn't pass
up the opportunity. I popped it in not expecting to be all too wowed by
it, and boy, was I surprised. This is the first movie in a long time
that I can honestly say scared the life out of me. Most D'Amato sleaze
isn't worth a second thought, but I found myself engulfed by
Anthropophagus. Not very often do you find exploitation films that are
actually scary, as they're usually just shocking and grotesque. This
makes D'Amato's film very unique to me. What I think he did better than
most schlock was that he used actual tricks of the scary movie trade,
rather than just thinking of the most vomit worthy ideas imaginable
(which are still present here). He uses horror techniques such as great
cinematography, character development, and perhaps the best part, one
hell of a fear inspiring monster.
The horror starts in the opening scene, when two teenagers on a beach are killed in a very gory fashion. We learn more of these two later. It cuts to the main characters, a group of family and friends: Andy, Maggie, Daniel, Arnold, Carol, and a kind stranger, Julie, who they decide to let come along. They're all heading for a small island in the Mediterranean for some vacation time, except for Julie, who's there to meet up with those two killed on the beach. They arrive to a mysteriously deserted town, save one woman who disappears from sight often. As night falls, the group soon fears that something horrible is happening, and they begin to panic when a pregnant Maggie goes missing. They decide to search the house they're staying in when they find Rita, a blind girl who is a friend of Julie's. She says something has killed everyone on the island except her, because she is the only one who can sense when the killer is coming and is able to hide. Later, when Carol finds Julie and Daniel kissing, she runs off and locks Julie in a cemetery, while all but Rita and Daniel go to find her. Unfortunately for those two, Rita senses the killer later that night, and Danny is butchered. The terrified survivors then set out to unravel the mystery, rescue the still missing Maggie, and find the strange disappearing woman. One by one, the victims fall to the Grim Reaper, leaving Julie and Rita alone with the slowly approaching monster. Can they escape?
Anthropophagus manages to be a very effective scary movie without any flash or special effects by going back to the basics. Simple techniques like creaking steps or strange sounds in the basement helps build tension, and the release is some of the scariest jump moments I've ever experienced. The scene where the group is searching the basement is one of the most eerie in the movie, and then, completely unexpectedly, Rita jumps out of casket with a knife in her hand. I literally jumped from my chair. After these scares, it manages to keep the atmosphere, because whatever is stalking them, whatever this monster is trying to kill them is still an unknown to the audience. When he's finally revealed in the bedroom, my stomach dropped out. His appearance is so strange, so grotesque, that it makes him one of the most fear inspiring creatures ever in movies. What makes him scary is that you can see that he's still just a man. He's not some strange sea creature or alien. He's an insane, disfigured, and emotionally tormented human being running rampant (he's actually a very sad character). Instead of having him kill everyone in an insane, bloody onslaught, he chooses his victims carefully, stalks them, and dispatches them in unexpected and disgusting turns of events. Included are some of the most appalling scenes ever thought of, most notably the bite out of the fetus. Displays such as this not only make Anthropophagus a legitimate scare fest, but keeps it as hardcore horror. D'Amato really works his magic with this one.
Of course, nothing's perfect. A big problem with Anthropophagous is long, drawn out scenes of characters slowing walking around the island, either doing nothing or searching for survivors. These scenes are extended within an inch of their lives, and are meant only to pad running time. That's what I found wrong with Buio Omega: too much filler, not enough action. When you get to the last half hour, then the movie flies into gear and knocks you out with a punch, but other than that, there are some notable events here and there, but it's mostly rather dull. Still, just that last half hour makes it one of my favorite thrillers of all-time, and personally, one of the scariest movies ever. Of course, this is unusual, because not only is D'Amato not known for thrillers, but this movie is usually considered simply dull, gross, and an over-the-top video nasty. Too often are movies cast aside simply because of grotesque content, with no other aspects considered. This is never included in lists of actually good movies, so most people are probably going to disagree with my review. I'll say it boldly and proudly; Anthropophagus is one hell of a horror movie, and is one of the scariest movies ever made.
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.
I first watched this movie under the title of The Grim Reaper. Most of
us fans of the movie probably have as well. Surprisingly, I had never
heard about this movie until a few years ago. I remember watching it
and think that there was something about this movie that was above most
of its competition. Of course, I hadn't seen the uncut version of the
film yet so I was just going off of the atmosphere. When I was told
what I was missing in the uncut version I had to find it. Obviously, I
did. And it wasn't through Shriek Shows new DVD.
A group of people, including Tisa Farrow of Zombi 2 fame, set sail to a secluded island. Upon setting shore, they notice that no one is in site and begin to find dead mummified bodies throughout the town. They don't realize that an extremely impending figure has murdered everyone on the island and they are next.
Sounds simple and it is. George Eastman who plays The Monster even says in an interview that this movie was only made to make money. There was nothing artistic about it. But, nevertheless, the movie is great. Obviously, this movie is not for everyone as some find it boring and over-hyped. I happen to love this film. The sense of impending doom covers this movie from top to bottom. And the 2 particular controversial scenes are great. Sure, the special effects are terrible but it is the thought of what is happening that makes you realize how sick this really is.
I am not a huge fan of D'amato's works but this movie is excellent. For any real collector of horror, this is a must have. By the way, I did end up picking up The Shiek Show release of the movie. It is well worth having. But, if you can find the original American version of the movie I would get it also, under the title of The Grim Reaper. The music selection in certain scenes are different. 10/10
Looking back these days at the movies on the list of Video Nasties
drawn up in the early 80s by the UK's Director of Public Prosecutions,
one is often left wondering what all the fuss was about. In the case of
"Antrophagus: The Beast" AKA "Antrophagus: The Grim Reaper", with its
infamous ripping-out-a-fetus-and-chomping-on-it scene, it is easy to
see. However, fetus grimness aside, 'Antrophagus' is a disappointing
horror which neither lives upto the hype of its infamous set-piece or
the promising first act of the movie.
The film begins with the slaughter of a young couple on a pleasant beach on a remote Greek Island by something which emerges from the sea. Sometime later a young group of holidaying tourists (friends of the slain couple) arrive and find the island deserted Mary Celeste style. They begin to investigate, catching glimpses of a mysterious woman before they finally stumble upon a hysterical blind girl who tells them of a monster whose presence she can smell from the odor of blood it carries. From there the members of the group are gradually picked off by something which is eventually revealed to us to be a disfigured and insane George Eastman.
Unfortunately, while the first third establishes a convincingly uncomfortable atmosphere courtesy of the island and the house, and the build up to the monster's reveal is quite well done after this the film deflates quite quickly. For all its hype there is actually very little in the way of action/gore and after the plot has revealed itself we still have to suffer a lot of shots of people walking around like they have done for the whole of the film upto that point. However, it should be noted that the film does attempt some modicum of character development and has some only-just-sub-par acting in order to carry the viewer through the boredom even though it falls short of the mark. And then, the fetus eating scene (in fact a skinned rabbit)! Sure, this is a gruesome and repugnant idea, but to be honest the scene isn't shot that well, doesn't really make sense, fails to repulse, and so ultimately disappoints.
It's a shame really as every now and then you catch glimpses of what could be a great movie, but the editing, the acting, and (to be honest) the monster, let it down and (while it's much, much better than the follow up 'Absurd') still bores where it should scare, and elicits yawns where there should be screams.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An group of tourists offer to give an American, Julie(Tisa Farrow), a
ride to an island village where pals of hers(..a French couple we see
killed at the opening of the film)were supposed to be waiting for her.
Deciding to remain on the island for a spell, the group find the
village without people, providing quite an ominous suspicion that
something's amiss. When the sailboat they were riding is sent away
mysteriously into the sea adrift, the group ponder why, holing up in
the home of Julie's friends, awaiting for the night to fall, hoping
that the boat would return to shore. The remaining members of the group
do find a person in the village, but she remains elusive warning for
them to leave the village. They then find the French couple's blind
daughter who is deeply traumatized. But, what none of the visitors plan
on is encountering a dangerous, psychopathic cannibal(George Eastman,
in hideous make-up, with unhinged eyes..his build works to enhance how
scary he looks as he approaches victims)without an ounce of humanity.
He seems devoid of anything remotely civilized and there's a reason
revealed later involving his son and wife in a raft isolated in the
middle of the ocean.
Aristide Massaccesi(Joe D'Amato)and George Eastman craft quite a sickening tale which has given "Antropophagus-The Grim Reaper" an assured following. "Antropophagus" is the very definition of a slow-burner as it idles along showing the tourists walking throughout the village(..modeled after the Greek Islands and looking eerily similar to Narciso Ibáñez Serrador's "Island of the Damned")attempting to find any citizens. I love horror films which show visiting outsiders finding a complete village abandoned like a ghost town as if they just vanished off the face of the Earth, and seeing our cast moving throughout and finding no one certainly worked for me. I think this beautifully sets up just how monstrous the film's predator really is..such a menace that he empties a city of it's people. I think Massaccesi's decision to not show the killer until 50 minutes in will test the patience of many, but I felt that the director was building the dread of his arrival. I mean, we know that someone is on this island somewhere and I felt that Massaccesi wishes to keep him hidden for as long as possible. His impact to the film, when he does arrive, is immediately felt when Eastman's fiend bites a plug of skin from the neck of a victim. He'll also bite a chunk of flesh from a throat later in the film when he pulls a victim's face through the hole of a mansion's ceiling. The most infamous death concerns the removal of a fetus from a pregnant victim's womb(..Massaccesi said it was a rabbit)taking a bite out of it. You also see the aftermath of a cleaver stabbed into a victim's face. Massaccesi even pays homage to Spielberg with an underwater attack at the very beginning reminiscent of Jaws. There's even the eating of intestines that will leave many jaws dropping to the floor in dismay. Massaccesi has shown(..as Buio Omega will prove)that he isn't afraid of making films with disturbing subject matter and scenes with (in)human behavior that shock. I think the film's finest moments occur when Massaccesi shoots the use of candle-light at night through the darkened rooms of the French couple's home with Julie and Bodin's Daniel encountering a frightened innocent hiding from Eastman's monster, and specifically the Roman catacombs where Eastman's lair of eaten bodies is located(..this is very akin to the work of Lucio Fulci with the presence of remains, corpses, skulls, bones & red-eyed rats running about). The film also has a nifty sequence where Julie finds a hidden room where Eastman's sister kept many of his first victims through the breaking of a mirror, in the mansion of a family who worked for the village. Also, cool is a suicide where a woman decides to hang herself, and Julie, at one point, is trapped in a gated graveyard by a jealous Carol(Zora Kerova; who was upset because Daniel preferred Julie over her). A young Serena Grandi has an early role as the pregnant victim, Maggie, who is found by her husband in the catacombs. I think "Antropophagus" is very similar to Fulci's works at the time(..from "Zombie Flesh Eaters" into his more sadistic 80's gore flicks)and just as willing to push buttons, repelling weak-hearted audiences. To those of us who have seen a bunch of these movies, though, the impact isn't as severe, but I find his unflinching ability to shock rather amusing. But, I think it can be sensed, here, that when inspired, Massaccesi can create a sense of atmosphere. With the amazing setting, Marcello Giombini's often haunting music score, and Enrico Biribicchi's lush cinematography, Massaccesi had all the tools to make quite an impression. Unlike many, I didn't have any problem with the pace because my eyes were taking in the location and how it was brought to the screen. And, Eastman is quite an impressive beast.
How anyone can say this is better than its sequal "Absurd" goes beyond me. I saw this film (uncut) straight after Absurd and kept wondering when it was actually going to start - there is one initial scene where a guy on a beach gets a meat cleaver through his head (extremely unrealistic effects) and then the next "excuse of gore" is a head in a bucket which is so pathetically unreal I nearly split my sides with laughter !!!! The so called famous fetus eating scene is about the only thing that could atract anyone to watch this film and even that is poorly done. The whole concept behind the idea is definatly sick if you sit there and think about it but the effects really are poor and as for everyone talking about suspense and quality music - oh dear, I don't think you watched the same film as me. There is far too much cheesy greek "plate smashing" music, too many scenes done in the dark - to the extent where you can't actually see half of the film - and just no need to watch it - not even out of curiosity !!!! Trust me, do not waste 90 mins of your life watching this one - it is dire !!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Much is written about The Grim Reaper. Immediately banned in a lot of countries, been heavily cut, hard to find an uncut version. Well, indeed, it's hard to find an uncut one, mostly they clock in at 88 minutes, my version was the double disc from Schriek Show. Clocking in at 91 minutes, even that it is written on the cover that it's 88 minutes, a mistake. So what can you expect from this much acclaimed flick. A good start, then a slow and a bit boring in between and it's only the last 15 minutes that makes it worth watching. It isn't gory at all, and the blood flows not very often. as said before, only the beginning on the beach is worth watching and of course the two scene's that have been removed from most versions who are in tact on the double disc, it's the removal of the fetus and the eating of his own intestines. It was never frightening and some effects are really poorly done as the head in the bucket and the death of the blind girl, when they zoom in on her you still can see her breath. Anyway, as the forums are saying, a must have if you are collecting video nasties or much spoken flicks. You've been warned.
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