Archive for March, 2013

Anthropophagus!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 20, 2013 by Brain Hammer

It’s not fear that tears you apart…it’s HIM!

ANTHROPOPHAGUS (1980)

A chance meeting inside a cable car in Greece brings together a young tourist named Julie (Tisa “Zombi II” Farrow) and a small group of travelers (including the lovely Zora Kerova of “Cannibal Ferox” infamy) about to take a boat trip along the Archipelago. Julie hitches a ride so she can be dropped off along the way on a remote island where a babysitting job awaits her. When the group finally arrive at the island they are shocked to find it completely deserted. Julie is especially worried when she finds the large house where her employers were supposed to be waiting for her to be empty, with the sole exception of the family’s young blind daughter – who was cowering inside a wine barrel in the cellar!

The traumatized girl babbles a mad tale of a foul smelling savage beast that devoured everyone on the island, including her parents. The gang is skeptical and wind up paying for it with their lives. The “beast” in question is actually a man – a man who was long ago driven insane by a shipwreck and the tragic death and forced consumption of his wife and child. The now completely deranged cannibal killer mutilates and devours anyone who dares set foot on the island he now calls home.

The hideous looking madman (played very convincingly by co-writer Luigi Montefiori aka George Eastman of “Porno Holocaust” legend) immediately kidnaps the groups’ token whiny pregnant chick and stashes her away for late night snacking. Then the angry antropophagus sets his sights on Julie and her friends and slowly stalks after them in the night. It’s not the fear that will tear them apart…IT’S HIM!

ANTHROPOPHAGUS is an especially nasty effort from the legendary director Joe D’Amato. (aka Aristide Massacessi – RIP) It plays out much like an 80′s slasher flick, punctuated with graphic moments of explicit violence that are more in the vein of some of D’Amato’s previous efforts like“Beyond The Darkness” & “Emmanuelle And The Last Cannibals.” It wouldn’t be a stretch to call this a slasher flick with a zombie killer. Although the antropophagus isn’t an undead ghoul, he is very much alive and consumed with bloodlust. The most infamous moment in this flick has to be the scene where George chows down on a freshly removed fetus! A skinned rabbit was used for this effect and it is convincingly pukeworthy.

The gory gut munching climax is also extremely memorable, and is usually splashed all over the cover artwork just to spoil everyone’s fun. Although the film occasionally suffers from a coffin’s pace, it never skimps on the splatter when the man-eater gets down to business. A few of the special effects are a bit less than convincing (the freshly severed head in a bucket is laughably fake looking) but that only adds to the fun. George is one scary looking dude, and the scenes towards the end of the film where he stalks after Tisa Farrow are pretty scary stuff. The minimal plot (most of the film consists of people walking around in the dark looking for other people) and maximum carnage can make this one an acquired taste, but gorehounds should certainly consider this a must see.

This infamous horror film was indeed  “nasty” enough to have been banned on video in the UK for over 18 years. Several different versions have been released on vhs and dvd over the years, with multiple alternate titles including “Antropophagus: The Beast” (the UK video title), “Savage Island,” “Man Eater,” and “The Grim Reaper” (the original US video title). These releases were all butchered and castrated to suit the timid tastes of censors. Fortunately for horror fans, the fine folks at Shriek Show were good enough to release a completely UNCUT version of ANTHROPOPHAGUS which was made from the original Italian negative. Shriek Show’s nifty two disc release includes a wealth of bonus features including a 67 minute documentary entitled “Joe D’Amato: Totally Uncut 2,” an interview with stars George Eastman and Zora Kerova, a photo gallery, and more trailers than you can shake a severed limb at. Highly recommended.

Joe D’Amato & George Eastman teamed up again the following year to create a loose, follow up film (and unofficial sequel) entitled ABSURD. This time around George Eastman stars as Mikos, a monstrous Greek serial killer gifted with mutant blood that coagulates instantly and makes him almost indestructible. A priest played by Edmund Purdom (Pieces) chases the monster down and disembowels him. Mikos is sent to the local hospital, where he quickly comes back to life, snuffs a nurse with a surgical drill and then resumes his violent killing spree. The next victim is none other than future horror writer and director Michele Soavi (!), who plays an ill fated biker. Mikos is only briefly sidelined after being accidentally hit by a Doctor’s passing automobile, and then sets his deadly sights on the Doctor’s family. The family’s two young children had been left alone for the evening, and come face to face with an all too real boogeyman, more horrible than anything they could have ever imagined!

Despite the many obvious similarities, including of course the casting of George Eastman as the intestinally challenged monster-killer, ABSURD actually has nothing at all to do with ANTHROPOPHAGUS, and was not meant to be a proper sequel to that film. It stands out to me as more of an imitation of the American slasher flicks of the era, especially John Carpenter’s clas-sick “Halloween.” George doesn’t sport any creepy looking zombie makeup this time around, but he still looks pretty damned creepy while walking around in white tennis shoes. Much like the film that proceeded it, the horrible highlights of “Absurd” are the violent death scenes, which include George’s graphic impalement (sadly there’s no intestine eating this time around), buzz saws to the skull, and an extended gore sequence featuring a nurse getting a close up look at the inside of a gas oven.

Fans of “Anthropophagus” who are hungry for more splatter should eat this one up. It’s also highly recommended for fans of gory 80’s slasher flicks. This film was released under multiple alternate titles over the years, including “Absurd,” “Rosso Sangue,” “Anthropophagus 2”, “Grim Reaper 2,” and “Zombie 6: Monster Hunter.” You can currently find it uncut on DVD under the title HORRIBLE from Mya Communication. The total lack of bonus features is a bummer, but the gory goodness contained within the film itself more than justifies a purchase. Buy or die!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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Cannibal Girls!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 18, 2013 by Brain Hammer

These girls do exactly what you think they do!

CANNIBAL GIRLS (1973)

A pre-SCTV Eugene Levy & Andrea Martin star as Clifford & Gloria, a groovy young couple who plan a romantic winter getaway in a small town in the middle of nowhere called Farmhamville. Their trip quickly takes a detour into disaster when Clifford’s beat up old car breaks down. The young lovers try to make the best of the situation and check into the local motel. The elderly manager of the motel welcomes them with open arms, and then proceeds to tell them about a horrifying local legend.

According to the legend, a terrible trio of incredibly sexy and homicidal young girls once lived in a nearby farmhouse. The sirens once lured a trio of incredibly horny and stupid young men to a violent demise, and then feasted upon their flesh. Then the girls mysteriously disappeared and were never seen or heard from again. Clifford & Gloria are understandably freaked out by the story, but are stuck in town until their car can be repaired. Clifford then attempts to seduce Gloria with the power of his folk rock balladry in a scene that made me wish I had a pair of scissors handy to shove into my ears and perhaps some bleach to splash into my eyes.

Later that evening, Clifford & Gloria are escorted by the motel owner to a cozy little bed & breakfast isolated deep within the surrounding woods. The proprietor of the b&b is a bizarre and bearded hippie type who calls himself Reverend Alex (Ronald Ulrich). The rev wastes no time before leering at Gloria, and then inviting himself to join them for dinner. The entertainment for the evening is also provided by the Reverend, who regales his guests with tales of his family’s proud history of of executions and venereal disease. The meal is then served by the Reverend’s three lovely female companions, and because this is a horror film, no one makes the obvious connection to the local legend. Clifford & Gloria ultimately decide to spend the night with the gang, which is a rather foolish decision for characters in a film titled “Cannibal Girls” to make. These girls do exactly what you think they do!

Eugene Levy is an ugly, ugly man. That thought kept running through my mind over and over again while I was watching this flick. I’ve always found him to be a bit creepy looking, but to see him back in the early 70′s sporting a huge afro, mutton chops, and mustache is something else altogether. He looks like the mutant offspring of Gene Shalit & Tony Iommi. Now that I got that verbal abuse out of my system, I can comment on his performance in the film – it’s actually really good. Eugene’s talent for improvisation is obvious, even at such an early stage in his career. Andrea Martin & Ronald Ulrich also do a great job fleshing out the threadbare script with a lot of witty, off the cuff dialog.

But what about the cannibal girls, you ask?!? Simply stated, they are fucking amazing. The lovely ladies are played by Randall Carpenter, Bonnie Nielson, and Mira Pawluk, and all three are incredibly gorgeous. The highlight of the movie for me was seeing the girls parading around in their sexy, matching outfits. These girls also know how to deliver the bloody goods. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this film has more than it’s fair share of splatter. I also enjoyed the fact that the comedy never completely overshadows the horror. This is a very self-aware & campy horror film, bordering on parody, but it also never feels like it is entirely trying to take the piss out of the genre. It comes across as more of an amusingly satirical tribute to the trashy low budget drive-in flicks of it’s era. It would be nice if the horror filmmakers of today could learn how to do that sort of thing properly. Sadly, they just don’t make them like this anymore!

The good folks at Shout! Factory have quickly become a horror & exploitation fan’s best friend with their top notch dvd and blu-ray releases. CANNIBAL GIRLS is no exception. This special edition dvd release marks the long overdue debut of the film on home video in the States. Even a bare bones dvd release would have been cause for celebration, and this special edition release – which is loaded with bonus features gets the party started in a BIG way. The “scrumptious” bonus material includes brand new interviews with director Ivan Reitman, producer Daniel Goldberg, and none other than Eugene Levy himself! There’s also radio spots, the original theatrical trailer (which rules), and an alternate audio track that features the infamous William Castle styled “WARNING BELL,” which supposedly warns tender-tummied viewers of any upcoming carnage. Best of all, the warning bell doesn’t really work. It usually starts a bit after the blood, or stops short before the gore is gone. They don’t call them exploitation flicks for nothing! Consider this one Brain Hammer approved and highly recommended.

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!