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Anthropophagus (DVD)

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Anthropophagus
Starring Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Margaret Mazzantini, Mark Bodin, Zora Kervova, and Bob Larsen

Directed by Joe D’Amato

Released by Media-Blasters


What’s in a name? Let’s see, thus far this film has been known as The Man Eater, Antropofago, Man Beast, Cannibal, The Savage Island, and most commonly as The Grim Reaper. My favorite though has got to be its original title Anthropophagus. Why? Because it’s damn fun to say! Maybe it had so many titles because the people marketing the film either couldn’t pronounce it, or more likely, they figured that even if someone could sound out the word, chances are they’d have no clue what the hell it meant. For those too lazy to go and look for themselves, I’ll help out. Anthropophagus means a person who eats human flesh. Big word for something so simple, eh? Who cares, it’s still fun to say and even more fun to watch. Get out the mop, folks, this one is a bit messy!

Anthropophagus has a storied history, but before we get to all that, let’s tackle the storyline. A bunch of tourists hankering for a tropical vacation set out to a remote island for a little fun in the sun. Upon their arrival they start noticing a few things. The island is pretty quiet. As a matter of fact, it’s too quiet. There’s not a single soul to be found anywhere. Right about here my Brooklyn, New York instincts would have taken over, and I would have begun vigorously looting and then quickly gotten the fuck out of Dodge before anyone noticed. But these cats ain’t me. They’re decent folk! Instead, they set out to find an explanation for these developments. How could an entire town full of people just vanish? I’ll tell you how: Much to the delight of horror fans everywhere, they were eaten. By whom? By what? By the Anthropophagus of course! After a couple of twists and turns, our horrid hungry heathen starts knocking them off one by one in fairly imaginative ways.

Those aforementioned ways are just the start of the problems for Anthropophagus. The film happens to be one of the most notorious films of the Video Nasty era as it’s been banned in a few different countries. Banned? That’s pretty harsh, no? There’s no accounting for the weirdness of this world when it comes to what’s acceptable and what’s not, so I’ll save that rant for another time. Moving on. Along with its several titles there have also been countless different cuts of the film itself. I’ve seen at least three of them in various forms from old VHS tapes to bootleg DVDr’s. Each one claimed to be fully uncut too. Maybe they were. I couldn’t tell. The main problem was that the quality of these copies was about as bad as watching the film through a fish tank. My eyes still hurt from such sittings. Finally Media-Blasters has delivered the goods here as Anthropophagus hits U.S. shores fully restored and completely 100% uncut. No more spending top dollar importing bad copies of this puppy; it’s all here and readily available from almost any store.

So now that we’ve cut through all the hoopla, the question beckons: How is the movie? Bad? Good? Shocking? Shit? Well, the true answer is a little bit of all of the above. Director Joe D’Amato is mainly known for exploitation and sexploitation films with some horror sprinkled in here and there. With Anthropophagus he decided to have all of his actors keep it in their pants, and the result is a taut and gory little film that drips as much atmosphere as it does gore. However, if you go into this film riding the hype, you are apt to be somewhat disappointed. The kills and the gore (except for a couple of really choice scenes) are rather tame. People are stabbed, throats are bitten, we’ve seen it all a gazillion times.

On the DVD side of things we get two discs full of goodies. However, before I get to them, it needs to be mentioned that Media-Blasters has done a great job restoring this film. It’s never looked or sounded better, and then to give it the two-disc treatment? *kisses fingers* Magnifique! Disc One contains the film itself and some trailers, and Disc Two houses the bulk of the supplements. Included are the Joe D’Amato documentary Totally Uncut Two, which focuses on the making of films like this and of course the man himself. Also included are recent interview footage from 2005 of two of the film’s stars, Zora Kerova and the man with the appetite, George Eastman; the alternate U.S. theatrical opening; a photo gallery; and you guessed it, even more trailers! All in all, it’s a great little package!

So can this film live up to fan expectations? If you are well acquainted with the material, this is the DVD for you! For the curious, ignore the hype and forget about the bannings. At its heart Anthropophagus is little more than your typical giallo. Take the film for what it is, and you’re bound to have some fun with it. Besides, where else can you see a baby ripped from its mother’s womb and chomped on? Oh, was that a spoiler? My bad!

Special Features
Joe D’Amato documentary Totally Uncut Two
Public appearance footage of Zora Kerova and George Eastman from 2005
Alternate U.S. theatrical opening
Photo gallery
Trailer gallery

3 ½ out of 5

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Review – A Haunting Mixture of Psychological Turmoil and Brutal Supernatural Horror

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Starring Brittany Anne Woodford, Jenny Curtis, Kanin Guntzelman, Brendan McGowan, Jake White

Directed by James S. Brown

We all like to think of ourselves as being surrounded by friends, but let’s face it, if we were to ever truly hit hard times, there are probably very few, if any, people we could truly rely on. So on some level, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film we can all relate too, as it deals with this very issue.

Stephanie is an emotionally unstable young woman who strangles her boyfriend to death after he insults and breaks up with her. She calls her friends to help her dispose the body out in the Joshua Tree National Part area, and instead of reporting her to the police, they reluctantly comply. As their car breaks down, the four friends find themselves alone at night in the Californian wilderness with the rotting corpse in need of disposal. Given their dire circumstances, they begin to become more and more aggressive towards each other, and this was where the film was really at its best. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how far the limits of their friendship could be stretched, and who would be the first to crack and turn on the others.

Anyway, their body disposal endeavor soon proves to be a mistake, as Stephanie’s ex rises from the grave as vengeful zombie demon thing with claws as long as knives. I’ll admit, I first I thought Friends Don’t Let Friends was going to be a movie purely about the limits of trust, so I was pretty surprised when the supernatural elements came into play. And when they did, the trust and friendship elements of the plot were somewhat downplayed in favor of a more traditional horror approach, and while it was still entertaining, I still would have preferred for the film not to have strayed from its initial path. At least the ending came as a shocker. I won’t go into spoilers, but let’s just say the even the most attentive viewers probably won’t see it coming.

As you can probably guess from a psychologically-driven film of this kind, the performances were top notch, with Brittany Anne Woodford being on particularly top form as the manipulative and unstable Stephanie, a character who revels in the revels in the power she felt when ending another human life.

With its mixture of psychological turmoil and brutal supernatural horror, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film I would certainly recommend, but keep in mind that it may make you think twice when confiding in people who you think of as being your friends.

8 out of 10.

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Coulrophobia Review – One of the Most Entertaining Killer Clown Films in Quite Some Time

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Starring Pete Bennett, Warren Speed, Daniella D’Ville, Roxy Bordeaux

Directed by Warren Speed


The word ‘Coulrophobia’ refers to the fear of clowns, and if you happen to suffer from it, you might want to avoid director Warren Speed’s film of the same name. However, if you can stand the sight of clowns with gaping wounds in their manly parts, then you’re in for one heck of a fun time.

An all-female hockey team get lost deep in the Scottish woods on their way to a match (don’t ask), and are captured and forced to participate in a series of horrific games by the Grock family of clowns. All of the members of said family are absolutely fucking insane, but the one that really stood out was Twitch (Pete Bennett), who wears jester cloths and it said to have a short attention span. He longs to be a violin player and wishes he could blend in with normal society like the other members of his family. And you almost feel sorry for him, even though he’s a mad killer with bells on his head.

Director Warren Speed also appeared as Milo, a grunting mute who had his tongue cut out when he was a boy. As mentioned above, we see a close-up shot of a open wound in his penis being stitched up, which is not an image that will be leaving your mind anytime soon. Speed is clearly fearless when it comes to his art.

Inter-spliced with all the torture and mayhem, we also see documentary-style telling the sad history of the family involved, and this was where the film unfortunately faltered, because these scenes seemed out of place and just didn’t flow with the rest of the plot.

Ultimately, however, Coulrophobia almost seems like a film Rob Zombie might have made before he lost his way and started churning out trash like 31. Comparisons to House of 1000 Corpses are inevitable, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. This is one of the most entertaining killer clown films in quite some time.

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User Rating 2.95 (19 votes)
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The Gatehouse Review – What Is Found in the Woods Should Be Left in the Woods

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Starring Scarlett Rayner, Simeon Willis, Linal Haft

Directed by Martin Gooch


Now while no one will sneeze at the prospect of bringing up a bit of a rebellious child alone, it’s those damned kids that like to tempt fate by pissing off creatures in the woods…oh kids, they do the funniest things, don’t they?

In Martin Gooch’s moderately spooky presentation, The Gatehouse, a struggling writer named Jack (Willis) finds himself behind the 8-ball following the tragic drowning death of his beloved wife, and if that isn’t enough to torque your drawers, his young daughter, Eternity (Rayner) is becoming quite the salty soul herself. Unfortunately the little one has been finding herself bullied at school, and her recourse of sorts is to simply toss attitude around as if it was pleasantly acceptable. Her pastime has become lonely wanderings in the deep woods, digging for hopeful treasures…and we all know what problems reside in the woods, don’t we, horror fans? Well, Eternity’s father is attempting to re-start his writing career with a frightening backstory – taking the reigns on a novel that was abruptly ended when the author committed suicide, and supposedly the tome is quite the dark piece of literature.

Eternity’s never-ending quest for fortune and glory in the forest leads her to a most interesting (and ultimately) dangerous discovery (don’t sweat it – I won’t spill it for you). Bottom line here is this: the little girl has taken possession of something that should have been left in the friggin’ woods, and now someone (or something) wants it back PRONTO. What follows is a lackluster series of “spooky” events, and far be it from me to say, I’ve seen creepier stuff watching the evening news. Gooch then tries to bombard the audience with a plethora of instances and swerving plot direction – it’s fun at the beginning but can grow a bit tiresome over a duration.

Performance-wise, both Rayner and Willis play the perfect combination of mentally-shot dad and determined-to-be-independent daughter – their scenes are ripe with subtle contempt, and the right amount of indecision. Overall, the film is best suited for those fans of fantasy/fable-like horror, and while it might not scare the pants off of you, it definitely will give us all another reason to stay the hell out of the woods once and for all.

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3.0

Summary

Children in a forest-setting don’t always add up to cutesy-pie encounters with furry creatures – this one’s got a few scares to keep fans of coppice-horror appeased.

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User Rating 3.56 (18 votes)
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