It’s over! No more “Zombi” movies to cover! For those of you just joining us, I decided for no good reason I could name to watch not only the 5 “official” movies in the “Zombi” pantheon, but every other movie which had ever been released as part of the series, anywhere in the world. There ended up being 15 of those, with 6 of the 15 not having any zombies in at all, which is a curious decision at best; but now this is done, we can get back to one of our hundred other unfinished review projects.
We’ve already encountered director Andreas Schnaas, who directed “Violent Shit” and has gone on to a lengthy career in bottom-of-the-barrel splatter / gore movies. While I had a laugh watching his first movie, I’d no particular desire to watch any more, and it was only the coincidence of him doing a “Zombi 7” that brought us together again. The extreme gore side of things has never been my cup of tea, and if you’re interested enough to dig out any of the “Violent Shit” sequels, there are plenty of horror-focused websites to guide you.
Schnaas, from this limited exposure to his output, seems like the sort of director who’s just not progressed at all. Take a guy like Len Kabasinski, who’s always learning and trying to hone his craft; he’s a million times better than Schnaas, whose sole interest still seems to be just getting as much blood and guts on the screen as possible. This was made ten years after his first, and aside from marginally better gore effects it might as well have been ten minutes after. If the purpose is, even in part, to offend…well, doing it with a micro-budget horror that 99.99% of the movie viewing public wouldn’t even know existed is such a fool’s errand.
In summary, this movie is a cover version of the original, so if you’d like filling in on the plot, please feel free to read our “Antropophagus” review. Pretty much all the major beats are covered – couple gets killed on beach in the cold open, group of friends visits weirdly deserted village, find lots of bodies, cannibal starts eating them, mad sister tries to get them to leave, they don’t. A foetus gets eaten, although rather than trying to make a good effect, they just got a doll (admittedly, a realistic one) and covered it in gore. You know, all those bits you remember and love. But Schnaas gives you extra, including a local simpleton happily eating the vomit of one of our main characters, to which the vomiter’s friend replies “what did you have for breakfast?” with a grin on his face.
While it’s got more of a budget than “Violent Shit”, it’s not a lot more. Substituting for the boat ride they take in “Antropophagus” is a camper-van, and rather than an island they just go to an Italian village. They’re also missing a character (the Tisa Farrow free-spirit lady who drives some of the central conflict) so lots of the scenes don’t really make much sense – thinking about it, them being in a landlocked village makes the whole “guy goes crazy while being stranded on a boat” plot very confusing. I’m trying to avoid saying stuff like “they don’t mention X” because the version I saw had maybe the worst subtitles I’ve ever seen, leaving out lines all the time, and translating others quite badly too. The dialogue may have been a rich stew of philosophical debate and character discovery, but we poor English-speakers would never know.
As this cover version by some local bar band rumbles on, we discover that our villain, Nikos Karamanlis (Schnaas himself, dressed and made up quite like the guy in the original) is for some reason super-strong and indestructible. He tears off someone’s head towards the end, and then there’s the final scene. In the original, it’s a moment of some pathos, where the monster is seen as so pathetic and demented that he eats his own intestines, after his stomach is opened by an axe. In this version Nikos is shot several times, but tears his own stomach open and eats his intestines for no reason, before dropping to the ground dead…then getting up again a minute later as if he was fine.
The actual ending is a rare level of double-bullshit stupidity, as Nikos’ dead wife tells him to stop killing people, giving the last survivor the chance to chop his head off with a shovel; then we cut to the framing structure, a bunch of cops finally turning up to the village (where, lest we forget, everyone was brutally murdered, so they really ought to have been there before now), and it turns out that the killer is still alive, the “implication” being that psychopathy is contagious, or leaps to a new host on death, or something equally daft.
I guess Schnaas had the idea to remake “Antropophagus”, it being in a loose copyright situation, after the death of its director, Joe D’Amato. But even though the original is a fairly low-budget video nasty, its budget was “Titanic” level compared to this. D’Amato was a hack porno director, but he still had vastly more ambition than Andreas Schnaas. I’ve been doing a little reading about “splatter” cinema, and how it substitutes that re-establishment of the old order at the end (good triumphing over evil, etc.) for chaos. Okay, but there’s a universe of difference between those two extremes, and movies where you’re guaranteed no resolution, and the deaths of everyone you like, become a bit tiring after a while. While I certainly don’t demand a happy ending from all my entertainment, a satisfying one is always appreciated, and this is a very long way from being a satisfying movie.
One final thing – with reading a few splatter sites, I feel like I missed something. Perhaps they were all paid to write “a love letter to D’Amato’s original” in their reviews? Because it’s definitely not. If it were a love letter, he’d have probably used the good things about it, not just taken the main plot beats and thrown several buckets of intestines over it; he wouldn’t have got rid of all the tension; and definitely wouldn’t have removed the character who drives the damn plot. We should expect more from our cinema, is all, and saying “well, it’s a splatter movie, it doesn’t need to make sense, or be any good” lets directors like Schnaas, who’s clearly uninterested in doing anything but show the human body torn to pieces in as many different ways as possible, off the hook.
Rating: thumbs down