Do you have the guts to watch Joe D’Amato’s spaghetti splatter-fest “Anthropophagous”?

By on October 11, 2019

We’ve just added ten more cult horror titles — we’re calling this batch “Horror Month: Vampires & Psycho Killers,” but you can expect a few more surprises beyond that simple description — to our collection on Night Flight Plus.

Below we’re highlighting one of those films, Euro sleaze king Joe D’Amato‘s suspenseful spaghetti splatter-fest Anthropophagous (1980), a notorious UK-banned “video nasty” title successfully prosecuted under the obscene publications act in 1984.

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Anthropophagous — sometimes spelled without the first “h” or missing the last “o” and occasionally with additional descriptive nouns in the title like “The Beast” — was originally released (on VHS only) in the U.S. as the heavily-edited R-rated The Grim Reaper.

The version we’re streaming, for some reason, is titled The Savage Island.

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The plot follows what happens when a small group of vacationing tourists — joined by “Julie” (Tisa Farrow, yes she’s dear Prudence and Mia’s sister), a very pregnant “Maggie” (Vanessa Steiger), and “Carol” (Zora Kerova of Cannibal Ferox fame) — arrive by boat on a small Mediterranean island.

They find the harbor emptied of boats and the inland countryside eerily desolate and unpeopled.

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There are a few complications, as you’d expect, like the fact that Julie is actually supposed to be taking care of an English couple’s blind daughter “Rita” (Margaret Donnelly) while fending off the occasional romantic advances of “Danny” (Mark Bodin), which pisses off Tarot card-reading and slightly-unhinged Carol for some reason.

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This group of hapless castaways are a little freaked out to find themselves so isolated, particularly when they see that the only way they can contact the outside world, a telegraph machine (ask your grandparents what is), has been destroyed.

Also, someone has scrawled a foreboding warning on a dusty window: “GO AWAY.”

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A storm rolls in, and they find themselves stuck on the island with “Nikos” (“George Eastman,” real name Luigi Motefiori), a monstrous unstoppable madman with a nasty skin condition who begins stalking them down, one by one.

It turns out he’s also a cannibal, ghoulishly gobblin’ on human flesh, which may be the reason that one of the titles Anthropophagous was released under was The Zombie’s Rage (he’s not a zombie, though).

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Anthropophagous — released theatrically in Italy in August of 1980 — was virtually impossible to watch in any English-speaking country until about 2006, when a dubbed 82-minute version was released on DVD.

Its reputation, however, was passed along by word-of-mouth from true horror fans who’d actually seen the raw, unfiltered film as D’Amato had intended, with those two famously gruesome and memorable scenes intact.

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Read more about Joe D’Amato’s Anthropophagous below.

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Beginning in 1972, Joe D’Amato — real name Aristide Massaccesi, who used many, many pseudonyms during his career, which included some hardcore porn titles — directed and co-directed somewhere between 175 and 200 movies, roughly (very roughly in some cases!) before his death in 1999 at age 62.

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Many of the screenplays for D’Amato’s horror films — this one was penned by Montefiori, from a story he wrote with D’Amato — relied on giving the audience an actual reason for the horrific acts they’re seeing onscreen.

The characters are almost always forced to face something terrible in their past, some unforgivable transgression which has caught up with them in the present day.

In the case of Anthropophagous, D’Amato doesn’t disappoint, letting us eventually know what happened to the Weldman family, who were shipwrecked but ultimately became the island’s main inhabitants for the past century.

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Here, D’Amato makes fair use of the isolated island locations (it was shot on a cluster of Greek and Italian islands).

Much of the film was actually lensed in Italy, though, at the catacombs of Santa Savinilla near Lake Nepi (they’re populated with red-eyed black rats!), and at the Conservatorio di Santa Eufemia in Rome.

Many interior shots were made in the small villa in Sacrofano and at R.P.A. Elios in Rome.

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On the island, D’Amato also cleverly uses the available natural light and, more importantly, the darkness, to great effect.

Most of the film’s scenes are set at night — including a scary fucking scene in which Julie finds herself locked inside a cemetery — with only occasional lighting strikes from that approaching storm providing any light (you won’t soon forget the first time you see the stalking killer’s face).

Let’s pause here to praise D’Amato’s cinematography too (he claimed that Enrico Biribicchi’s name was used in the credits because the union had limited the number of jobs a single person could do on an Italian-made film), and also the work of film editor Ornella Micheli.

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Anthropophagous — by the way, the title apparently means “cannibal” — also borrows Marcello Giombini’s cinematic score from Kingdom of the Spiders, which was an excellent 1977 “when animals attack” flick.

We’re delighted to reveal that Severin Films are now offering up Anthropophagous — which they call “perhaps the most controversial –- and extreme –- spaghetti splatter epic of them all” — uncut and uncensored, from a 2K scan of the original 16mm negative which has been blown up to an occasionally grainy 35mm.

If you’ve got the stomach for it, check out the English-language filmed sequel, Absurd — a.k.a. Rosso Sangue and Zombie 6: Monster Hunter — which we’ve also just added to our collection on NF Plus.

If you’ve got an appetite for gore, we here at Night Flight HQ would like to suggest you gobble up every bite of the gutsy Anthropophagous, one of ten newly-added curated titles we’ve collected in our “Horror Month: Vampires & Psycho Killers,” now streaming on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.