ANTHROPOPHAGUS (The Grim Reaper) (1980) – The Dungeon Review!
I originally sought this film out several years ago due to its Infamous scenes of gore and carnage. I recalled liking this one, so I thought it was a reasonable choice for a second viewing. Wow! What a disappointment! There are really only two gory scenes in the entire film and they are right at the end. So in terms of infamous gore, anyone expecting that will be hugely letdown. Mind you, the two scenes I speak of are quite memorable and would certainly be Unsavory to those who do not care for the grisly stuff. Also, you may not want to watch this one if you are “with child”. Just saying.
A group of tourists take a detour to help out fellow traveler Julie reach a particular island to meet friends. But when they arrive, the island appears to be deserted. They soon learn that they are not alone and a completely insane cannibalistic maniac has killed all the islands former residents and is still hungry for more.
The film opens with the uninspired killing of a random couple. D’Amato then focuses the attention to a group of tourists who do a lot of talking. Lot’s and lots of talking. This is a lengthy segment where nothing happens, but fortunately the action picks up once they reach the island. Things don’t exactly go from 0 to 90 though. The group does a lot of wandering. Wandering and talking. What livened things up in this section is the beautiful scenery and the amazing architecture. The town is fantastic and walkways and dilapidated buildings are an impressive sight. The inside of an actual ossuary is used and it is magnificent! I definitely appreciated the gothic touches in ‘Anthropophagus’. The group then makes their way through the deserted streets to Julie’s pals home, only to find it abandoned. This is where things finally begin to get interesting. We are now in grim reaper territory! The film manages a bit of tension with a decent little jump scare when the group comes into contact with a survivor. Normally I would mention one of my favourite gore moments, but sadly there are too few mentionable ones here and I don’t want to spoil them for you. There is a significant body count, but beyond the aforementioned famous two kills, others are off screen or nothing special. If you are familiar with the Joe D’Amato library then you already know that the vast majority of his titles are porn. Don’t expect any sex or nudity to spice things up in this one, because there is zilch.
The grim reaper actually has a back-story, and we learn his name is Nikos Karamanlis. He is a big hulking man and should have been intimidating. But his make-up job looked liked it was oatmeal he glued to his face and he had some weird breathing issues. He can also hold His breath underwater for an unusually long period of time. That must have been extra difficult with those breathing issues. He looked a little better when he was in shadows but in the light I had a hard time taking him seriously. Even though I found him a bit hokey looking I still thought he was a pretty entertaining, stark-raving mad cannibal. George Eastman who plays Nikos/Grim Reaper is an enthusiastic wacko. Tisa Farrow is decent in her role as Julie, playing it cool in the face of fear. And Zora Kerova isn’t too bad as the jealous and superstitious Carol and plays it sulky and a bit crazy. The cast as a whole wasn’t too bad really, but are a bit unforgettable.
Although I found ‘Anthropophagus’ entertaining at times, there is a lot working against it. The island and its amazing Structures really make for a great horror setting. The film manages to build some tension in spite of itself in the third and final act. But in the end, there was way too much downtime and a lot of useless chatter. Although there are a few pretty sweet scenes of gore that looked impressive other effects were incredibly lame. And Nikos make-up really needed help! This is definitely not the hardcore horror it is hyped up to be. If you do ever rent this one, definitely pick up the Media Blasters/Shriek show two disc version. I loved getting a subtitle option; I always prefer to hear the dialog in its original language. It has an entire disc of extras including an interesting 60-ish minute documentary on Joe D’Amato. I’m giving ‘Anthropophagus’ a pass but you’re renting this one at your own risk.
Dungeon Rating: 2.5/5
Directed By: Joe D’Amato
Starring: Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Margaret Mazzantini, Mark Bodin, Bob Larsen, Rubina Rey, Simone Baker, Mark Logan, George Eastman, Zora Kerova