Absurd (1981)

Monster Hunter VHS CoverThere’s no question that Halloween is a cherished American movie, occupying a place in our hearts alongside such classics as Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz and Bad Boys II. It’s a pretty much perfect melding of suspense, violence, atmosphere, music and floating Steadicam shots. And how many of us haven’t caught ourselves at one time or other uttering such famous Dr. Loomis quotes as “Death has come to your little town, sheriff.” and “This isn’t a man.”

But what if someone could take all that was rad about Halloween and add the only thing missing to it? That guy would be a freaking genius, right? That guy would be freaking Joe D’Amato!

In between a couple of sex movies (Bitter Sex and Lust for Sex to be exact) back in 1981, D’Amato put down the dildos and picked up the medical drill, industrial saw and pick axe and said “we’ve got a few weeks before the next porno movie so let’s make the Halloween movie that should have been!

But who’s going to write it and star in it that shares Joe’s same cinematic vision? How about the writer and star of several other D’Amato classics such as Porno Holocaust and Sexy Nights of the Living Dead? Yep, Michael Myers just pissed himself looking at gigantic 6 foot 9 inch George Eastman manhandling the babysitter into an oven!

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Eastman is of course the physically distinctive Italian legend whose career also included plenty of non Joe D’Amato sleaze. Turns as Django in Django Kills Softly and Big Ape in 2019: After the Fall of New York only confirm that we are in good hands. It also helps that Eastman is such bad ass that all he has to do is let his beard grow to become the boogeyman. He doesn’t need any help from some William Shatner mask!

The story roughly tracks Halloween in the broadest sense. A murderous manic on the loose on a small town, the cops and a guy with inside knowledge (this time it is a priest instead of a psychiatrist) are after him, and the killer ends up terrorizing a babysitter and her charges at their house. Hey, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel for something as perfect as the stalked babysitter film, right?

The details though are of course different and by that, I mean better. While we all love the holiday that is Halloween, what’s the one day of the year that’s even better? Super Bowl Sunday of course!

What would be more terrifying than having the big game interrupted by some dude trying to kill your ass again and again. You’d be like, “damn it rampaging killer! You just made me miss that hilarious commercial with the talking animal because you’re trying to carve a satanic rune in my guts with that fireman’s axe! I better not miss Arrowsmith and Elton John perform at halftime, you crazy prick!”

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And kudos to the National Football League for allowing D’Amato to constantly show footage from Super Bowl XIV! I got so involved in reliving the Steelers beating the Rams that what was probably meant to be cheap filler between gross out set pieces became just as suspenseful as wondering how Eastman’s crazed killer Mikos Stenopolis would decide to dispatch his next victim.

Sure, it seemed a bit off that everyone was eating pasta and dressed in gowns and suits and ties for their Super Bowl watch party, but the NFL probably made D’Amato do that so that the Super Bowl brand was protected when it appeared in a movie that ended with the heroine holding up a head she chopped off and telling her little brother he doesn’t need to be afraid anymore.

With the film’s alternating focus on the Super Bowl and Mikos lumbering around destroying people, there thankfully isn’t much time to devote to the dimwits investigating all this.

The priest who laughably runs after Mikos in the beginning of the film vaguely explains that he serves the Lord through biochemistry and that Mikos got contaminated and escaped the lab. Mikos has these cells that can regenerate so he can only be killed by injuring his brain. Furthermore, of course the cell regeneration is imperfect enough that is has driven him insane and causes him to kill everything! Damn, how did this priest not get a US military contract for that?

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For his part, Mikos doesn’t evidence any personality besides growling psychopath though he still retains enough higher level brain functioning to remember who accidentally ran him over earlier in the movie so that when he somehow ends up at that guy’s house, he decides to go in and kill everyone. I would say that it’s all pretty absurd, but the movie obviously beat me to it!

By the time D’Amato one ups Halloween yet again by having both of Mikos’s eyes gouged out turning the final battle into one between dueling handicaps as the now blinded Mikos stumbles around the house after the gal who can barely walk, you’ll only snicker a little when she finds the decorative battle axe on the floor her dad must have had for just such an occasion.

Absurd (variously known as Horrible, Monster Hunter, and Antropophagus 2 depending on when and where you saw it) has all the style (none) you would expect of a movie that was just one of seven D’Amato made in 1981, the catastrophic dubbing normally associated with these 1980s Italian imports, the nonstop throbbing synth musical score that no doubt resulted in the type of cell damage to my brain that would have been fatal to Mikos, and the long lingering looks at the over-the-top carnage (lengthiest oven death scene in the history of cinema!) you’re paying your money to see. Spoiler: Steelers beat the Rams in Super Bowl XIV, 31-19.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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