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Anthropophagus (1980)


Director: Joe D'Amato
Starring: Tisa Farrow, Saviero Vallero, Margaret Mazzantini, Zora Kerova
Unrated 90 min

ANTHROPOPHAGUS is one of the more notorious films that found its way onto the British Film Commission's "Video Nasty" list. While the movie's blood-and-guts level lives up to its reputation, taken as a whole, it's just not very good.

The plot is simple: a group of tourists find themselves stranded on a deserted island inhabited by a deformed killer (George Eastman). Having slaughtered the island's entire population years earlier, the cannibalistic madman emerges from hiding so he can butcher the new arrivals. But before that, we are introduced to a mysterious woman in black, and a traumatized girl who managed to survive an earlier attack by the hulking cannibal.

There's nothing remotely scary or exciting about ANTHROPOPHAGUS. A bored, listless atmosphere hovers around the entire film. It seems to be a quality Joe D'Amato usually brings to films, with EMANUELLE IN AMERICA and BEYOND THE DARKNESS being possible exceptions. The film staggers along for an hour before the "grim reaper" appears, and his grand entrance is completely undermined by careless direction. Eastman, at six feet seven inches tall, cuts an imposing figure, but D'Amato has him lumbering around, lazily grabbing at his victims without much enthusiasm.

The gore in ANTHROPHAGUS isn't anywhere nearly as shocking as its reputation implies, but it is disgusting. The killer's makeup looks like it's made with greasepaint and silly putty, and the entrails are things picked up at the local slaughterhouse. The most infamous scene involves the monster feasting on a fetus ripped from a dying woman's womb. On paper, this sounds like an incredibly disturbing moment. However, the lifeless direction and shoddy special effects make the whole thing look rather ridiculous.

Horror fans should see this movie at least once, if only for it's historical curiosity. Take away the notoriety, and it's a boring and uninspired gore film.

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