Director: Joe D’Amato
Stars: Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grand, George Eastman
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
George Eastman (born Luigi Montefiori) is known for his acting in sleazy, low-budget, Italian exploitation movies like House of Pleasure for Women (nice), Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (uhm…nice?), Warriors of the Wasteland, Hands of Steel, and who could forget the (awesome?) Porno Holocaust? But did you know he wrote films? Like, a lot. In fact he did one of my all-time slasher/giallo mashups, 1987’s StageFright. Oh, plus the aforementioned Porno Holocaust, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, and the film I want to talk about today, Anthropophagus, also known as The Grim Reaper. Here, like in many of his movies, George does double-duty as he also stars as the cannibal killer, and once again he teams up with long-time collaborator, director Joe D’Amato. With a surprising appearance by Mia’s lesser-lauded sister, Tisa, and an infamous scene that many horror fans know about even if they’ve never seen the movie it is from, does this 1980 Euro-slasher still hold up today? Well, grab your bib, some napkins, and a barf-bag, and let’s find out.
A group of tourists on a sailing trip become stranded on an uninhabited island. Now there is a town on that island, but the place is weirdly deserted. The tourists soon find out why: a guy has gone completely crazy and killed nearly everyone on the island. Yes, even Jason Voorhees would be impressed by that feat. Now the killer is still crazy, and very hungry, so soon enough it’s the newcomers who wind up on the menu.
The pacing and direction by Joe D’Amato is a bit on the slow side, and the acting does leave a lot to be desired. Even the cherry-picked stunt casting of Tisa Farrow does nothing to elevate that. That said, George Eastman is both kooky and menacing and gives a fine performance as the cannibalistic killer, and the kills, when they do come, are juicy and red with the death of a pregnant woman being particularly infamous and the end of the killer being gloriously over-the-top and grotesque. There is a reason that the Brits called this one a video nasty. Gorehounds will be pleased.
On to the extras that Severin Films put on this new Blu-ray release. There is an interview with the man himself, writer and star George Eastman that runs 13 minutes, an interview with actor Saverio Vallone that is 14 minutes, an interview with special effects artist Pietro Tenglio that clocks in at six minutes, an interview with editor Bruno Micheli that is 13 minutes long, and last but not least there is an interview with actress Zora Kerova that’s 10 minutes long. That’s a lot of interviews. Then there are three trailers. All in all a nice collection of goodies from Severin.
Anthropophagus does not reinvent the wheel, so if Italian exploitation gore flicks do nothing for you, this will not change your mind about them or anything like that. But if you’re into that kind of thing, then this is one of the better ones in that small sub-genre. George Eastman is suitably creepy in this and I always have a soft spot for that big lug, so I like it and it is easily the best version of this flick out there, so I can recommend it for a select few with exquisite, and bloody, tastes.