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Anthropophagus (1980)

aka THE GRIM REAPER, aka THE ZOMBIE’S RAGE, aka THE SAVAGE ISLAND


Nastiness Rating:

Directed by: Joe D’Amato
Written by: Joe D’Amato/George Eastman

aka THE GRIM REAPER aka THE ZOMBIE’S RAGE aka THE SAVAGE ISLAND (1980)

A group of friends (one of whom is pregnant) go on a boat trip off the coast of Italy. They find a deserted village on an island that no one ever goes to. Horrible, nasty, filthy, bloody, disgusting chaos ensues.

I gotta tell ya, for the most part the Nasties have really been completely ineffective in their quest to scare me. Sure, they’ve been pretty disgusting. Some have even been kind of disturbing…but more in the “I can’t believe they made this” sort of way.

The moment I saw the cover box art for this one, I was creeped out. And, yeah, the art for the edited version is pretty fuckin’ creepy. But it’s the special edition art that’s the most frightening.

So, when I popped this into my dvd player, I was ready for a shock ride that would keep me up all night.

Well…that’s not really what I got. The first hour of the movie is these stupid characters roaming around the island figuring out that there might be something evil there, but not really believing it. (Their first clue is when the Death card comes up in a deck of Tarot cards. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Tarot knows that Death does not mean “death.” It’s actually not one of the bad cards. I’m a little tired of this cliche being used all the time. It’s just wrong.)

The only shock is the nearly clever “real scare after the fake scare” trick. A loud noise scares a couple of the people and they find out that it’s a kitten on a piano. They laugh and laugh and then FUCKING SCREAM when a young, blood-soaked girl pops up out of nowhere brandishing a big fucking knife and screaming her fucking head off!

Other than that, the first hour is pretty boring.

Then, FINALLY, the guy on the coverbox shows up in all of his bald, slimy glory. AND HE’S HIDING BEHIND A FUCKING BEDROOM DOOR!!!! AUAUAUAUAUAGHGGGHGHGHGH!!!!!

Yeah. THAT was pretty frightening. After he dispatches one of the guys (pretty easily, too…he must have venom in his teeth), he disappears and all is boring again.

Really, the movie only comes alive (so to speak) when the slimy guy shows up. He is pure evil and incredibly disturbing. Even after giving him a semi-sympathetic backstory he’s creepy. Unfortunately, like Phantasm’s Thin Man, this reaper of the not so optimistic variety is a much cooler creation than the movie he’s attached to. Director With A Thousand Names Joe D’Amato (real name Aristide Massaccesi) figured out what scares us, but then he dropped the ball on the rest of the movie. Not even Tisa Farrow could save this one.

And watch out for that opening music. Wow, it’s godawful.

But I do have a question for you: Does anybody know where I can get a copy of his Porno Holocaust?

LOW POINT: The fetus eating scene. Yeah. Not so much pleasant.