Antropophagus (1980)

For all its notoriety, other than when the cheese-grater faced killer strangled the pregnant woman, pulled out her fetus and took a big old bite out of it, I found Antropophagus to be fairly restrained as far as gross out slasher movies go.

After a prologue involving a pair of hapless German tourists demonstrates that something terrible is happening on this remote island, we meet a second group of tourists who just by happenstance also end up traveling to that island. Julie (Tisa Farrow finishing up her career in strong fashion) convinces some people she just met in Greece to stop by the island on their trip throughout the archipelago.

Julie is going there to babysit a blind teenager she knows. The island has a small village, but very few year round residents. It also doesn’t have any telephones and you can only get there by boat. What the island lacks in modern amenities it more than makes up for in sinister atmosphere and murdering!

Accompanying Julie is Maggie (the pregnant one) and her husband Arnold, Carol, Daniel, and Andy. Carol brings her tarot cards because the film is in dire need of some heavy-handed foreshadowing. Maggie wants a reading, but when Carol flips the cards, she can’t read anything in them and suggests that they should try later. Later after Maggie leaves, Carol tells Julie that when she can’t read anything in the cards, it means the person has no future! Carol later can be seen throwing the tarot cards into the ocean when she isn’t being all boo-boo faced that her man Daniel is hitting on Julie.

While Italian film legend George Eastman (Absurd, 2019: After the Fall of New York) plays the lunatic stabbing and biting people all over the island, the real monster in the movie is of course drama queen Carol. After bringing everyone down with her sour puss attitude on what should have been a relaxing boat ride to Slasher Island, she ups her grouchy game once ashore by running off into the night when she sees Daniel trying to kiss Julie. Julie goes after her in an attempt to make peace, but gets locked up by Carol in a cemetery for her efforts! (Hiding Maggie in some catacombs full of dead bodies may have been the killer’s desperate attempt to one up Carol.)

Everyone goes ashore to check things out except Maggie who is left behind when she sprains her ankle stepping off the boat. Poor Maggie had no idea that when she went to soak her ankle in a bucket of sea water only to find a severed head in it that that would be the least stressful part of her trip!

The village is seemingly abandoned but for a fleeting glimpse of a woman they see. The telegraph shows the last message went out a month ago. The only other sign of life is when the blind girl Juile is there to watch jumps out of the shadows in a crazed fury and stabs Daniel in the back! (How jealous was Carol about that?)

It’s all good though because she’s blind and is unhinged because of all the killing that went on around her. And she has Daredevil-like superpower! She can smell whenever the killer is near due to all the blood! (Honestly, once you get a look at the killer and his sweaty, grody face, you’d need to be in a coma not to smell this dude at least a block away. Once you start murdering and eating people, the daily application of antiperspirant is one of the first elements of the civilized world you abandon. Any sociologist will tell you that.)

Eventually everyone makes it to the Wortmann villa. The woman who lives there is the sister of the murderer, a man who was presumed dead with his wife and child in a boating accident, but through flashbacks we learn that may not necessarily be true and that there is a terrible secret about what happened to the family that supposedly explains the rampaging geek gutting everyone he bumps into. People then split up as much as possible resulting in the expected stalking and killing.

Fairly standard slasher in construction (Eastman’s maniac doesn’t make an onscreen appearance until about 40 minutes into the film) with an average number of kills and other than the infamous fetus biting scene, the only incident that is truly memorable is at the end of the film when the killer pulls his own guts out after one of the surviving tourists takes a pickaxe to him and he tries to eat them before falling down dead. Somehow it’s gross and funny!

The film benefits from at least looking a bit different from its American brethren with the exotic locations which include crumbling ruins, the catacombs, the open sea and an old village. The music is an odd combination of scary organ music and outer space sounding synthesizer that can’t but help be unsettling.

There’s no one you really care about and I knew so little about Julie that as the movie was coming to a close, I found myself indifferent to her fate, more invested in what would become of George Eastman’s character. Eastman doesn’t have to do much in the film, beyond the effort that probably went into putting his icky face and hair make up on, but his wild-eyed hulking presence is more than sufficient to make you cringe when he appears to wreak havoc.

Perhaps hoping the magic they made together here highlighted by the third trimester takeout scene could be repeated, Eastman and director Joe D’Amato would team up several more times for films including Absurd where Eastman plays another deranged maniac as well as sleazier fare whose gonzo titles no doubt outdo the films themselves such as Cannibal Love, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead and Porno Holocaust.

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