Plot in one sentence: PORNO HOLOCAUST plot - minus the porn.
A lot has been said about this hard to pronounce Italian genre classic.
ANTHROPOPHAGUS is certainly worth a look at least once for anyone interested in the golden age of European gore.
But how does it withstand repeat viewings?
My answer would be: fairly well, in comparison to most of this gifted director's exploitation drivel.
ANTHROPOPHAGUS has that trademark D'Amato look: great framing, fairly simple set-ups and inspired use of locations. There's actually a couple of tracking shots, but they're hard to notice due to,ahem, subtle lighting. But mostly it's creeping hand-held camera and an occasional crash-zoom accompanied by an appropriately violent sound effect. D'Amato even boldly imitates lightning flashes by overexposing film in places!In short, quality craftsmanship.
Obviously, ANTHROPOPHAGUS is a rough, low-budget affair.
It wouldn't have worked so well had it been a more polished, upmarket product.
For such a cheap film ANTHROPOPHAGUS manages to avoid a lot of common pitfalls:
- it doesn't repeatedly use the same cutaway shot to represent the same location(HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD does that),
-doesn't use footage from earlier scenes as flashbacks to pad out the running time(DEMONIA is gulity on that count).
-there are no redundant parallel plots which attempt to disguise the absence of a proper script, as in ZOMBIE 4:AFTER DEATH, for example.
-Slow biuld-up. The demented flesh-eating monster whose scarred face has graced dozens of video covers in every country doesn't enter until almost an hour into the film. Up intil that point D'Amato takes his time to show off some great locations and create a mysterious atmosphere with his grainy cinematography and bizarre music. ANTHROPOPHAGUS is slow, but enjoyably so. There is sufficient narrative drive and skilled suspense scenes to justify some minor padding consisting of tourist footage.
-Marcello Giombini's score. This is an acquired taste but lovers of the extravagant will fall in love with this discordant, violent and eccentric music.
WHENEVER TISA FARROW GOES BOATING THINGS INEVITABLY GO WRONG...
What doesn't work:
-The cast do a uniformly shit job. They're merely a soporific bunch on their way to pick up a (probably very modest) paycheck. It's hard to remember anyone except the grinning, wide-eyed Eastman whose now iconic part as Nikos Karamanlis/Klaus Weltman is actually quite small. Ah well, this film still works.
ZORA KEROVA WEARING HER BEST HAUNTED EXPRESSION
Oh, yeah - the gore. It's not really essential here. Sure, it was the violent scenes that made the film famous, but it has other things to offer - potent gloomy atmosphere and interesting visuals. The first time I saw ANTHROPOPHAGUS on battered VHS the murders were too dark and fuzzy to make out, but the overall impression of doom still worked. A solid low-budget film.
To conclude: I love this film and own several versions of it. The anamorphic two-disc DVD from MEDIA BLASTERS has the tint on the day-for-night shots at the cemetery restored, so they don't stick out as obviously as they did in previous Austrian edition.