Review by Dave
Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper
** ½ Out of 5
Tagline- It’s Not Fear That Tears You Apart. It’s Him!
Release Date- August 9th, 1980
Running Time- 91-Minutes
Screenplay- Joe D’Amato & George Eastman
Director- Joe D’Amato
Starring- Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Zora Kerova and George Eastman
Released in 1980 The Geim Reaper was heavily censored and was part of the video nasties for its graphic acts of violence. Over the years the movie has built up a large cult following and many cite this as one of Joe D’Amato’s best movies and in general outside of Beyond the Darkness I was never really fond of his work and the Grim Reaper might be one of his better movies in terms of filmmaking, but at the end of the day the film is quite boring and made more frustrating is it had all the elements to really be a true classic of the genre, but instead it ends being a movie that fails in general and the shocking scenes are surprisingly not as shocking as one might have heard.
Joe D’Amato was best know for his gore flicks such as Beyond the Darkness or his sleazy XXX flicks such as the Emmanuelle series and Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, but with the Grim Reaper while there is plenty of gore on display, D’Amato opts to go for more atmosphere and it was an interesting idea, but as I stated it doesn’t really work as much as I had hoped. As I mentioned this film is sometimes noted for its extreme gore, but anyone that has seen enough of these films what you see here isn’t as shocking as many reviews state. If anything this flick does show D’Amato had a little more talent than might realize, but again the film at least for me doesn’t fully work.
The screenplay by Joe D’Amato & George Eastman has a group of tourists stranded on a deserted island where all the people have been murdered by a crazed cannibal killer (played by Eastman). And that is basically the plot in a nutshell. There is a backstory on the killer, but the plot is light, which is typical at times with the horror genre, but that’s not where the movie fails. The problem is the script by D’Amato & Eastman is rather dull with poor characters. I highly doubt anyone will remember the names of any of the characters. Nothing the characters say or do is very interesting and sure slasher movies aren’t exactly founded on great characters, but these are some of the weaker ones and none really have their own identities either basically all the characters are interchangeable.
As director Joe D’Amato actually crafts a fairly well-made movie; rather than focus on sleaze and gore, which was D’Amato’s trademark, he attempts at creating an eerie atmosphere with a film built on suspense. The problem though is the characters are so weak it’s impossible for them to carry the movie and therefore what D’Amato attempts fails and instead of atmosphere and suspense, Grim Reaper is just kind of slow and boring. With that said there are some nice touches and there are moments when what D’Amato was doing works well, but in general the pacing is just too sluggish. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me the films I find the most suspenseful are the ones I can get some kind of attachment to the characters, but the fact they are so faceless it hinders suspense and tension.
The film has often been cited for its gore F/X and while to the more casual viewer the film would be quite graphic, but for anyone that knows these films it’s actually not as gory as many have made it out to be, but with that said the Grim Reaper does have some nice gore scenes. But just don’t expect as much as you may have heard.
The casting for the movie is excellent with a number of actors that appeared in countless Italian horror flicks in the 70s and 80s. We have Tisa Farrow, Serena Grandi (under the name Vanessa Steiger), Zora Kerova and of course as mentioned earlier George Eastman. Despite the solid cast they’re pretty much wasted here since the film is quite slow.
Overall Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper has slightly grown on me and while I like what D’Amato was attempting to do with the movie, but it is a little too sluggish in pacing and the poor script hurts the movie. While I never hated the movie I do enjoy it a little more now, but its still mostly sub-par. This was followed by a sequel of sorts the following year again directed by D’Amato and George Eastman returns as well playing the villain, but he isn’t the same person and I’m not quite sure why its billed as sequel since it really doesn’t have anything to do with the Grim Reaper outside of a semi-similar plot.