ANTHROPOPHAGUS

PrintE-mail Written by Martin Unsworth

One of the most notorious video nasties, censored for years and banned for even more, Joe D’Amato’s Anthropophagus (known by various names over the years, and presented here as The Savage Island) is a cause célèbre even among the other controversial titles. Now, thirty-five years after it was made, it’s been given an official UK release, fully uncut and in high definition, to boot!

The plot is incredibly simple: a group of friends (and a hanger-on played by Zombie Flesh Eater’s Farrow) are stranded on a deserted Greek island with a man-eating psychopath on the loose.

Although that sounds routine, the execution is wonderful. Although D’Amato’s reputation as a sleazy, knock ‘em out quick merchant is valid for the most part, he did know how to set up some gripping set pieces. Although the film’s legacy has always been with the graphic gore, there are actually quite a few effective jump-scares here too. Eastman’s stumbling cannibal (for that, essentially, is what the tongue-twisting title means) is suitably menacing, despite looking like someone has poured porridge on his head. The infamous foetus-eating scene is still as sickening today, even when you know how it was done. But bravo to the BBFC for finally allowing the film – and there are more on the way – to be released as it was meant to be experienced.

It’s not perfect, far from it, but once you get through the rather pedestrian sections between the action, it’s rollicking good fun. The HD transfer is fine, showing plenty of detail, and a healthy amount of grain to maintain the cinematic mood of the original presentation. Thinking back to those VHS days, when copies of the film used to exchange hands in umpteenth-generation form, it’s a revelation to finally be able to own a damn near perfect version.

Supplementing the film on 88 Films’ Blu-ray release (available only from their website, DVD is widespread) is a brilliant documentary looking at the glory days (albeit soaked in urine and spunk) of New York’s grindhouse district. 42nd Street Memories: the Rise and Fall of America’s Most Notorious Block is a feature-length interview-led piece from High Rising Productions and features a host of cult directors and stars waxing lyrical on what made the most famous sleazy street in the world so wonderful. While thin on the ground with movie clips (one has to realise how much the licencing costs!), it’s an entertaining and informative documentary, which manages to cover a lot of ground. Elsewhere, there are various trailers for D’Amato’s film (under different titles) and an option of watching the film in Italian with subtitles.
A fantastic addition to horror fans’ collection,

ANTHROPOPHAGUS (1980) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: JOE D’AMATO / SCREENPLAY: ARISTIDE MASSACCESI (D’AMATO), LOUIS MONTEFIORI (EASTMAN) / STARRING: TISA FARROW, GEORGE EASTMAN, SAVERIO VALLONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 
 


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