We’re almost at the end of our “Zombi” series! And if Andreas Schnaas’ “Anthropopaghous 2000” proves impossible to track down (I’m not going to spend too much on it, obviously), this will be the end! Although the “official” series only consists of 5 instalments, it feels like I’ve watched 50 of the bloody things, even though this is no.14. We’ve reviewed a few classics which hopefully you’ve since enjoyed yourselves (“Zombie Flesh Eaters”, “Virgin Among The Living Dead”) and a few which ought to wiped from existence (“Panic”, “Zombie Flesh Eaters 2”).
We’ve also discovered that, if you’re a cheeky enough distributor, not having zombies in your movie is no problem. If you count this one (spoiler!) an amazing 5 of the 14 don’t have a single zombie in them! If you’re being extra-generous, dead people walk and talk in a few, but this, “Absurd” and “Panic” all feature just one villain, who’s definitely alive. This was part of the great zombie makeup shortage of the late 70s, of course.
“Antropophagus” is not particularly well known as “Zombi 7”; but it’s extremely well known as one of the 72 “video nasties”, and was also one of the 39 to be successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. Unlike its not-really-a-sequel, “Absurd”, there’s absolutely no doubt why this one was banned, and that is our cannibal villain eating a foetus. I figured I ought to mention that at the top of things, in case it was a deal-breaker for you (the prop was, apparently, a skinned rabbit), but it’s a really well-done effect and induced a wince or two from even this jaded reviewer.
Let’s talk movie! The cold open features a young couple strolling through the streets of a picture-postcard Greek village before going for a sunbathe. He lies on the beach with huge headphones on (who takes headphones to the beach?) and she goes for a swim, finding something extremely unpleasant in a small drifting boat before getting chopped up by persons unknown, closely followed by the boyfriend. Solid open, as they go, and it’s another in the surprisingly durable “ship drifts into harbour carrying something nasty” sub-genre.
Basically, the movie is about a group of pretty chill buds going for an island-hopping holiday. They’ve hired a boat, they’ve got some places to go, and as they’re travelling on the cable car down to the bay, the beautiful Julie (Tisa Farrow) asks them if she can get a lift to the island her friends are on. Because she’s hot, and one of the guys fancies her, they say yes. I wonder which island that will be?
A quick word about Ms Farrow – she seems to have hopped out of 2016, with everything about her – clothes, personality – seeming to come from a more enlightened age. She takes no nonsense from the guy she’s into, because he’s in a weird situation with another woman; she travels on her own; and she does her own rescuing. Honestly, it’s just refreshing to see a woman remain fully clothed throughout a movie, given what we’ve watched recently. If I can be bothered to mess about in Paint for a few minutes, below you should find a picture of her compared to a picture of Kristen Stewart in this year’s “American Ultra”.
Okay, it’s the not the closest resemblance, but it’s good to see a woman not be wallpaper. Sadly, the island Julie wants to go has had something bad happen to it, in a style reminiscent of “Dagon” (although the inspiration went the other way, I presume). No-one’s on the streets, and the only person they see runs away, but not before writing “Go Away” in dirt on a window. Their boat is unmoored and left to drift into the Mediterranean, people start disappearing, until eventually they’re led to the mansion owned by the wealthiest people on the island, who unfortunately all died in a boating accident a few months ago.
I’ve skated over a few details, because those long recaps leave me bored long before the end, even if it’s a cool movie. And this is pretty decent, surprisingly! The characters are all believable, the settings are great (kudos to the person who did all their location scouting for them) and the gore is plentiful. Given its status as a video nasty and the way it always used to show up on semi-legal “10 DVDs for a tenner” box sets, I expected a pretty miserable experience, but kudos to everyone involved. The scene in the ossuary (which featured at least some real bones, which the crew accidentally took away with them) is a great and creepy bit of business.
What’s more surprising is how this and “Absurd” are from the same writer and director, have similar-ish plots and were filmed a year apart. I think I bought the peril of this group more than the family from the later movie, I liked the actors more and they found better sets. But it’s not perfect, obviously, so it’s time for your favourite feature, “the paragraph where I mock the dumb stuff in the movie!”
There’s a set of tarot cards used at the beginning. Now, have you ever seen a set of tarot cards in a movie ever, where the Death card doesn’t come up? It’s like the ultimate Chekov’s gun. I thought this was going to be the first, but as if in an acknowledgement of this rule, after “dealing a hand” and chatting about it, the highly strung and jealous Carol flicks through the pack until she finds the Death card, which still gets the big dramatic music sting! Excellent work. Carol locks Julie in a cemetery and leaves her there, with a psychopathic cannibal on the loose…then, ten minutes later, after she escaped, Julie’s way too forgiving. Lastly, the big mansion has a room where the killer has hidden all his bodies, which has a good number in there, all of whom have been there for some time. Two things – he’s a rubbish cannibal, only biting his victims enough to kill them; and those corpses must’ve absolutely STUNK in the height of a Greek summer, yet not a single person makes reference to it, or is particularly grossed out by the presence of dozens of dead bodies.
Small potatoes, I suppose. It’s a little on the slow side, and the sort of heavy editing that it had to go through to get British certification must have made it a rather curious film; but it’s here now, uncut since 2015, and is a very solid film. Director Joe D’Amato would make a movie in the same locations, with roughly the same plot, next year, with the only difference being its X-rated nature, called “Porno Holocaust”, which shows how Europeans definitely had a different attitude to matters sexual. By the way, there’s a tribute to D’Amato on the DVD which is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen – he’s talking about how the images at the centre of his latest film are from his heart, and his dreams, and talks about it like it’s this big production…when it’s just one of the dozens of porn movies he made in the last few years of his life. Then, there’s a bunch of montages of his smiling face, almost always with a cigarette in his mouth, with the title pages of his movies popping up in the foreground. It’s hilarious, and so stupid that I’d have easily believed it to be a joke if it weren’t on the DVD.
Rating: thumbs up