Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Anthropophagus, aka The Savage Island, aka The Grim Reaper, aka The Zombie’s Rage

Anthropophagus, one of nine films released in 1980 from director Joe D’Amato, but the only one that wasn’t porn, first came to the shores of the United States in butchered form, carrying a number of different titles. But, this is the Information Age. Censorship of film is, at best, vulgar, at worst, malicious. The film that was denied viewers for decades is now available in its full glory. Or, at least, its fullness.

The title, Anthropophagus, comes from anthropophagy, which is a fancy term for cannibalism engaged in by humans. The ‘gus’ attached to the end of the film’s title transforms the verb into a noun, implying that there is a person in this flick with an unhealthy appetite. And there is! The title creature in the movie is played by frequent D’Amato collaborator George Eastman as Klaus, a man deformed and driven insane by a horrendous choice he had to make while shipwrecked. Now, some time later, he can’t stop his voracious hunger for human flesh.

D’Amato and Eastman also wrote the screenplay, credited under their real names of Aristide Massaccesi and Luigi Montefiori. For half the film, viewers never see Klaus. Rather, we follow vacationing 30-somethings taking a tour of Greece. Setup scenes were shot on location in Athens, but everything afterwards was shot in good old Italy.

The group, most prominently Julie, played by famous sibling Tisa Farrow, hop off of the beaten path and take a sailboat to a nearby island, where there is one of those old Mediterranean towns that’s all stone footpaths, steps, and closely packed houses. Julie has friends Anthropophagus movie posterthere to meet, but the group discovers that the island is all-but deserted. The only remaining inhabitant tries to warn them away, but it’s too late. Klaus has set the travellers’ boat adrift, trapping everyone on the island. Then he starts killing them. Thank goodness. There were some appetizers before the main meal began, but it wasn’t enough.

George Eastman is a big fellow, clocking in just a few inches short of seven feet tall. That physical presence is not wasted in this film. He does some very bad things to the characters. But, D’Amato chose to keep the blood and gore understated, until two unforgettable sequences in the final act. I’m going to spoil these scenes because, in truth, this flick is something of a mangy dog, and most readers will probably never see it. So, I consider these spoilers a selling point. In scene one, Klaus rips a baby from a mother’s womb and takes a big bite. And in scene two, he chows down on his own intestines, while staring in unbridled rage at the final cast members.

I wouldn’t say these scenes have special effects that are done all that well. But, c’mon, you still want to see them, right?

That’s all this flick really has to offer. It’s a typical D’Amato cheapie, only without any explicit sex. It’s the kind of movie that was the second feature at struggling drive-ins, or shown late at night on local TV stations. There’s not much plot to speak of, not much in the way of acting talent, and not much to grab the attention of either film snobs or the general moviegoing public. That makes it a flick for the degens. All hail Joe D’Amato and George Eastman. Anthropophagus enters the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index at #267, displacing Retrograde.

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