Monday, October 2, 2023

beast wars.

It's the annual 31 Days of Horror thang and this year the theme seems to be hairy beasts.

Let's see how long that continues.

Anthropophagous: The Beast (AKA The Grim Reaper, The Savage Island 1980)
Dir: Joe D'Amato
Starring: Tisa Farrow, Serena Grandi, Margaret Donnelly, Mark Bodin and Sir George Eastman.

Our tale of 'terror' opens on a grey and overcast Greek beach where a pair of unattractive German tourists are relaxing on vacation.

Whilst the girl (in a horrible 70's style bikini that leaves either way too little or far too much to the imagination - I can't decide) swims out into the choppy and obviously freezing - as in it's overcast, what other reason would there be? - waters, her boyfriend lies sprawled out on a towel (probably not his) listening to his unfeasibly large 'Walkman' and posing in his tiny Speedo's.


Within seconds tho', someone (or something) pulls her down beneath the surface amid an enormous cloud of blood.

Unaware of his girlfriends murder the young man carries on frugging away to whatever it is German tourists listen to only to be rudely interrupted by a hatchet in the face.


"Aya! my BCG!"

With a shower of scratches and amateurish dissolves the movie flashes forward a month or so (trust me, it feels longer) where we come across (we wish) the delightful American broad abroad Julie (a bored looking Farrow) eavesdropping on a group of badly dressed, big haired holidaymakers talking about a boat tour of the Aegean they're organizing.

This motley crew consists of hunky medical student Alan/Andy (depending on the dub), his sister (or maybe his ex girlfriend, again depending on the dub but to be honest  I don't really care) Carol - a new age tarot reading nutter, Italian stud muffin for hire (is there any other type?) Danny' Mister 'no character traits' Arnold alongside his pregnant wife Maggie plus the boat owner and open necked shirt man Stephis.

Julie being brash and American rudely interupts the chat to ask if they could take her over to one of the nearby islands.

Which surprisingly isn't a casino-based euphemism.

You see she’s supposed to be visiting some friends there, but she’s running a wee bit late and managing to miss the last boat (what? no water taxi's? or phones?) is stuck.

The group think "The sister of Mia Farrow and star of Zombie Flesh Eaters on our boat? Coolio!" and invite her along.

Farrow: floppy fringed and bored senseless. I/you still would tho'.

As they sail away, kooky Carol foresees disaster for Julie in her tarot cards.

You see, the mystic ones future reading came out as an unintelligible load of old bollocks, which means (to us in the tarot know) that Julie has no future!

The others, however, just think she's barmy and chuck the cards overboard.

But if we take a look at her career we can see that it's actually spot on.

Arriving at the island Maggie 'trips' and twists her ankle so decides to stay on board with sweaty Stephis while the others explore but with this being a Joe D'Amato movie nothing is that sedate and it's not long before a mysterious figure kills the open necked shirted one, kidnaps a screaming (and probably really dangerously hormonal) Maggie and sets the boat adrift.

Meantime, as the others explore the deserted island, Carol thinks she sees a figure at a window, but when they go to look no one can be found.

With all the horror tropes suggesting badness ahead - broken windows, a sign saying 'go away' and a score that sounds like a drunk ex-squaddie bumming a cat - the preening posse soon stumble upon a horribly mutilated body proving Carol's carping on about creepiness was absolutely correct.

Not too surprisingly, everyone decides it's time to go.

Laugh now.

With darkness quickly descending and a storm brewing on the horizon they take refuge in Julie's friends' deserted house (remember the folk she was going to visit? - cos the director hasn't until now) where the friends decide on a course of action....snuggle up together quietly till morning or split up and explore with only a match to light their way.

Julie and Andy decide to take the exploring option.

It all actually goes quite well under the circumstances up until (in one of the films only genuine jump moments) a sweaty blind girl jumps on Andy screaming "I can smell him… I'm the only one who knows when he's coming. And I'm never wrong. He smells of blood…"

Which doesn't say much for the killers choice of aftershave.

Julie recognizes the girl as her friends daughter Ariette, so the threesome decide to head back to the house together.

Aw sweet.

She's least she can only hear the bloody film.

Unfortunately Ariette's ramblings send Carole over the edge (probably because there's only room for one mad woman in the house) and she runs away sobbing like a big girls blouse.

As Julie follows in hot pursuit, Ariette senses the presence of (or just smells) the killer in the house.

Our not so merry band soon realize that the infamous Andy Anthropopagous (AKA The Beast) is loose and he's feeling a wee bit mental.

Will anyone survive to tell the tale?

And will anyone watching stay awake long enough to care?

Can't decide what's more terrifying...
the neck wound or the hair.

Anthropophagous: the Beast is famous for three main reasons; it's genre God Joe D'Amato's first foray into 'straight horror' (after his 'gore porn' hits like Erotic Nights of The Living Dead), it has one of the best titles ever and was banned as a 'video nasty' during the 80's in the UK.

But more on that later.

D'Amato regular (and the movie's co-writer), the great George Eastman stars, alongside his colossal mantits as 'the beast' of the title, a shambling monosyllabic Max Wall gone to seed with a taste for human flesh, all trampy mullet, tight trousers, yellowy scalp and unbuttoned shirts.

It's so well realized that you can literally smell the piss and nob cheese thru' the screen.

Eastman: sorted for gin and piss.

Like all of D'Amato's movies there are some moments of quality, the suspenseful chase through the woods, where Julie's face is illuminated by brief flashes of lightning showcases the directors (usually unnoticed) skill as a cinematographer to the sequence exploring the beast's shabby almost pathetic lair via the disturbing flashback explaining the beast's origins – shipwrecked with his family, he accidentally kills his wife whilst trying to calm her down after suggesting the eat the body of their dead son to survive - but these little touches of greatness do nothing to help save the rest of the film from being a shoddily made, boredom fest of a movie.

And the movie's most notorious scene - and it's reason for appearing on the DPP banned list?

Well that comes late in the film where, after killing Arnold, the beast proceeds to tear the fetus from a still screaming Maggie's belly and then eat it.

This caused uproar amongst MP's and journalist's alike in 1984, when (incredible as it may seem) many were convinced they were witnessing an actual snuff movie.

I will admit it took me over 20 years to finally view this scene, not I hasten to add because I was concerned by the graphic image of infanticide I would undoubtedly see, but because the rest of the film leading up to that bit is so arse numbingly boring I'd given up way before it actually happened.

Most of it is either shot in the dark or on what looks like out of date off-cuts of cheap market stall film stock, the cast's acting style is almost totally non existent (you know it's a lost cause when even Tisa Farrow is in a film for the money) and when the most terrifying thing in a film is an actresses almost obscenely hairy armpits (take a bow Ariette! I know you're blind but you could of at least had a feel under's like a forest) you know you're in big trouble.

"Did you get me a Drifter?"

Anyway, I digress.

Back to eating babies and the infamy surrounding this scene (which is still missing from the UK cut of this film), when you finally summon up the courage to view it you can plainly see that Eastman is chowing down on a (dead) baby rabbit wrapped in bacon rashers.

How can anyone get a baby and a rabbit confused?

And confused enough to take it to court on obscenity charges?

I mean:

Fluffy bunny wabbit (sans bacon).

Small child
(also sans bacon).

If you make it that far tho' you're rewarded with a classic final scene where Eastman is stabbed in the stomach with a pickaxe and, not letting a cannibal trick go by, proceeds to scoop up his intestines and shove them back into the wound.

When this fails he decides it's easier to just eat them.

See? told you it was a quality movie.

Tisa Farrow is shocked to discover
no-one eats a baby in her DVD copy.

Luckily Anthropophagous: the Beast is available in the UK for those brave souls that fancy it.

You're cheapest option is to search your local pound shop (no, really) as it's available on a double disc (but renamed The Grim Reaper) with Mario Bava's Daria Nicolodi starrer Shock (called Beyond The Door II on the packaging).

Unfortunately this version (and surprisingly the last US release) is missing the fetus eating scene and, it must be said most of the plot.

Thankfully tho' our German cousins* (God bless 'em!) released a fully uncut version and it's in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio too.

As a downside it looks like it's been transfered from an old nth generation video copy meaning large amounts of the movie appear to be filmed in utter blackness.....

Well you win some you lose some.

*Bizarrely enough 'the Germans' appear to have something of an unhealthy obsession with this movie which came to a head in 1999 when Violent Shit director Andreas Schnaas remade the film as Anthropophagous 2000.

Utter pants from start to finish (tho' the bikini worn by the girl at the start is an improvement) it's lead actress* Cornelia de Pablos retired to take up painting soon after its completion.

Unfortunately if her work online is anything to go by she shouldn't have bothered.

*Unlike Tisa Farrow who went on to pose for Playboy, nude on a Merry-Go-Round horse wrapped in streamers.

See you tomorrow.

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