Written by: George Eastman
Directed by: Joe D'Amato
Starring: George Eastman, Annie Belle, and Edmund Purdom
Reviewed by: Brett G.
"There is nothing human left of him...he is a creature of evil. The spark of God was smothered the moment the devil took possession of him."
In 1980, Italian director Joe D'Amato teamed up with actor and writer George Eastman to produce one of the most notorious Eurotrash films of all time in Anhropophagus . Shortly after that gore-soaked shocker debuted, the duo re-teamed for a film that has arguably become even more notorious: Rosso Sangue, also known as Absurd, Horrible, Monster Hunter, The Grim Reaper 2, and even Anthropophagus 2. The latter two titles no doubt are responsible for the film's reputation as a sequel to the 1980 film; however, the film is more of a companion piece than anything, as the only common thread between the two is D'Amato and Eastman themselves. One of the original 74 "Video Nasties" in the UK, Rosso Sangue promises plenty of shocks and gore; however, can it live up to the reputation of its predecessor?
A normal looking man (Eastman) apparently attempts to break into a house; however, he finds the front gate to be quite an obstacle, as he ends up impaling himself on it, literally spilling his guts everywhere! After being rushed to the hospital, the stranger is miraculously cured due to a mysterious regenerative ability that causes his blood to coagulate quickly. A priest finally shows up and explains that the man, Mikos, has been subject to some biological experiments that have caused him to be immortal at the cost of his sanity. Mikos breaks out of the hospital, and proceeds to terrorize the neighboring town, particularly the kids at the house he attempted to break into earlier.
In relation to its predecessor, I'd say Rosso Sangue is slightly less impressive. While I think Anthropophagus is more infamous (mostly due to one scene) than it is great, that film at least had a decent setting, some good atmosphere, and Eastman's deranged appearance working for it. Rosso Sangue is nearly a complete inversion; instead of an isolated ghost island, we're dropped into the middle of suburban America where everyone is gathered for a Super Bowl party. Plus, Eastman looks like a guy who just left the local hardware store rather than a deranged mutant. Thus, there's an entirely different tone for this one, which isn't bad in and of itself (Carpenter showed just how effective suburbia can be with Halloween, a film that many feel D'Amato ripped off in Rosso Sangue), but it just feels so standard compared to its predecessor.
The one element retained from Anthropophagus is arguably its worst quality: its poor, slow pacing. Whenever Eastman isn't on screen, there's just not much interesting going on. If we're not watching clips from Super Bowl XIV that completely break the tension, we're watching the aforementioned Dr. Loomis-esque priest and the cops pursuing the killer. The latter plot line is eventually rendered nearly useless, as those characters pretty much drop out of the picture until the very end anyway. Obviously, the plot's pretty paper thin, but D'Amato doesn't do much to bring any sort of suspense or atmosphere until the very end. Unfortunately, even the climax feels bogged down and drags on a bit too long, but I did at least find myself rooting for the young daughter in the family.
Rosso Sangue doesn't quite measure up in the sheer infamy department either. Anyone expecting anything on the level of its predecessor's fetus-eating crescendo will likely be disappointed. That said, there is a decent amount of gore to be found here, and the final shot makes the film worth sitting through. Also, though the pacing is still a problem, it's arguably a bit better here as far as the gore goes. With Anthropophagus , there are some long dry spells particularly at the beginning; here, it's the middle portion that drags a bit, but it seems like the gore is parceled out more effectively.
Even though Eastman's part is much weaker here, he still does a good job as coming off as slightly deranged. Though Anthropophagus takes a while to get going, there was at least a sense of mystery as to why this crazy guy was killing and eating people; with Rosso Sangue, we know everything from the get-go, and all the "Boogeyman" talk that pervades the film seems pointless since we know that he's just some genetically modified product of science. Lest I dwell on needlessly comparing it to Anthropophagus, I will say that Rosso Sangue is decent on its own as a standard slasher film. Plus, the score is decent enough and there are some good, interesting shots to bring a modicum of atmosphere and suspense to the proceedings. It's by no means a Eurotrash classic, but even its predecessor can't boast that.
Though it was available in the 80s on VHS from Wizard Video (where it was titled Monster Hunter), the film hasn't been seen on DVD until recently. Courtesy of relative newcomers Mya Communications, the film has been released as Horrible, and many would have you believe that the disc itself lives up to its name. However, that might be a bit harsh. The transfer has been cobbled from two different sources so as to capture the most complete cut available. Because of this, the film varies in quality during certain scenes (similar to the composite cut of Silent Night, Deadly Night or the Army of Darkness Director's Cut). This also may be the reason the transfer is non-anamorphic, which is truly a shame to see in the year 2009, particularly because 90% of the transfer is in excellent shape, and even the lower quality video isn't terrible. The audio fares much better--it's got some ambient pops and hiss, but it's actually much louder and easier to hear than the track on Shriek Show's Anthropophagus disc. Overall, it's a disappointing package, especially given the price that Mya is charging for it. However, the film itself doesn't warrant a purchase for anyone outside of the hardcore Eurotrash crowd. Everyone else simply needs to Rent it!
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