42nd Street Cinema

Anthropophagous (1980)

As you may already know I am very fond of Italian genre cinema, although that affection may not be fully displayed on this blog as much as it should be. To me there is no better comfort blanket than some quality Euro-horror trash and feeling a little low as of late I decided to indulge my 'sick' tooth with Joe D'Amato's Antropophagus. Starring Euro-trash usuals: Tisa Farrow, Serena Grandi and George Eastman - who also co-wrote this under the pseudonym 'Louis Montefiori' with D'Amato (Aristide Massaccesi).

Yet another film that snuck into rental shops and homes during the pre-VRA (Video Recordings Act) era of Britain and subsequently getting banned and deemed a Video Nasty, mainly down to the infamous fetus eating scene, in which it was believed to be a true snuff film. You can see Eastman's grizzly visage on the newspaper clipping below, it also makes for an amusing read. I've also included a few other clippings that you may or equally may not be interested in. Being -5 at the time, it's an era of cinematic history I sadly missed out on. Even to this day my Dad likes to rub my nose in the dirt by reminding me that he and my mother saw Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978) theatrically.

Anyway, back to 'pophagus (a nickname I cooked up for this charming little nasty), like many of its ilk it sports a multitude of different titles/alternative spellings, a selection of them being; Anthropophagous, Anthropophagous: The Beast and Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper.

I have begun to notice something of a trend or reoccurring devices, if you will, used in at least 4 of D'Amato movies...I know what you're thinking and surprisingly it's not the gratuitous sex scenes. Instead, it's the themes of; isolation on or off islands and/or tourism. Examples of this include; Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (1980), Porno Holocaust (1981), Antropophagus (1980) and Buio Omega (1979). The aforementioned Antropophagus and Buio Omega along with Absurd (1981) are widely considered D'Amato's only straight up horror films.

Antropophagus involves a group of tourists who travel to a remote Greek island. Upon arrival at the said island they soon discover that the locals have disappeared and that they are being followed or more rather stalked and gruesomely 'offed' by a menacing presence with a grim back story. The menacing presence brought into question is none other than Italy's George Eastman/Luigi Montefiori in one of his most memorable roles as one Nikos Karamanlis turned lunatic 'pophagus. Once an ordinary man, a husband, a father now changed forever after being forced to eat his dead child and accidentally killing his wife (and probably eating her too afterwards) while lost at sea. Further on in the film one of the characters is lead through a series of catacombs, a scene renowned by fanatics of 'trash' cinema for the use of real skeletal remains which were apparently packed away with the prop skulls after filming was complete.

Eastman is definitively chilling and delivers what is probably his best performance as the island dwelling cannibalistic killer, a performance which is enhanced by the creepy and oppressive atmosphere. D'Amato proves to us as an audience that he was capable of knocking out more than just cheap porn flicks and with Antropophagus he successfully creates an atmospheric shocker. Undoubtedly it's a film with odd pacing and a strange mixing of good, bad and lifeless acting that will divide certain audiences. I personally find this film hard to classify, I'm torn between slasher and horror. So, what would you call it a slasher? or a horror? or something else entirely?


R. Sterling Gray said...

Eastman was one of those rare actors that no matter what he was in, even if the movie was awful, he was amazing!

CiNEZiLLA said...

Great fucking piece Jim!
Love those paper clippings... It does bring back a time not to far gone...

Good man!


Anonymous said...

yeah... it was nice. and the 'eating' scenes - delicious!

stargraves said...

I was in Liverpool and rochester trading vids at that very time - and had this film. Never thought that much of it - but will give it a re watch!

Amusingly - the video nasty bill was never ratified by parliament, so any convictions under the law would be illegal and instantly quashed. Sad that so many genre classics were destroyed - I only managed to preserve a handful of tapes on betamax - cannibal holocaust, cannibal ferox, and a few others.

Thanks to the internet though - the rarified days where genre films were so scarce is over, but it does take away some of the excitement of the films now that they are on sale in HMV!

tentas said...

fuck yeahhhhhhhh
tisa's farrow last movie

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