A small collection of friends decide to sail to a small island to meet up with some other friends, for a nice relaxing vacation. Things take a turn for the worse when the arrive on the island to find all of its inhabitants missing and their boat drifts off. Slowly, the horrible truth is revealed about the fate of the villagers and they need to find a way to get off the island, before it's too late.
Ah, "Anthropophagus", probably one of the more well known Joe D'Amato movies, after "Caligula". "Anthropophagus" has gained a cult following over the years, as well as a lot of hype and notoriety for its content, especially upon its initial release. It managed to make its way onto the Video Nasties list, being banned in several countries, and causing outrage from a single scene, believed to be real.
I heard all about "Antrhopophagus" when I was first getting into obscure movies, mostly due to one scene in particular involving a pregnant woman. So when this finally got an uncut DVD release from Shriek Show, I couldn't wait to check it out. After my first viewing; to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Not only did I think everyone who told me how great and how nasty the movie was must have been on drugs, but I felt I over paid for the movie when I got it for $7. Sure these days I understand most of those feelings I had upon my first viewing were my own fault for going into a movie having listened to the hype, and in general having a set expectation for it. Both of which, will normally spell doom for any movie for any one. After repeated viewings I don't hate the movie nearly as much, but it is still a movie where the hype and the infamy are far greater than the movie itself.
Most of the movie revolves around the group of friends being trapped on an island, where an entire village's population has disappeared. There is a death scene in the beginning involving a young couple on the beach that grabs your attention. I mean, what else is going to happen when you see a guy with a meat cleaver stuck in his head? You had just better enjoy it while you can, since you won't see anything like that for a good while. The rest of the time, we are stuck with a small collection of friends, and one stranger, in which we could honestly give a flying fuck about. Yet they are all we've got, so we have no choice but to watch them wander around a ghost-town of sorts. That is really all there is. They walk about, go from building to building, find the occasional remains of a villager, followed by hysteria of course. In the vein of a slasher flick, people are picked off one by one, though we don't know who it is. Is it a monster? A madman? Do we really care? I don't know about you, but I didn't. I was just waiting for something more interesting to happen.
Eventually it is revealed as to who the killer is, we are given some exposition on the killer and why he is going around eating people. Which has to do with him becoming ship wrecked with his wife and son, where he ends up eating the both of them to survive. Which, naturally, causes him to go insane and eat an entire village. Not entirely sure why, but I'm not about to question logic when something interesting has started happening. Since the madman's solution is to kill and eat anybody he comes across, we are given the scene that made the movie infamous. A scene in which he attacks a pregnant woman, rips out the fetus, and takes a bite. Now I give credit to D'Amato for doing a fairly ballsy scene like that, but it really isn't all that shocking for any seasoned horror fan. Especially considering that the "fetus" really looks like nothing more than a big chunk of meat. (It was a skinned rabbit covered in fake blood, so I guess it really was just a chunk of meat.)
Now while I am no fan of "Anthropophagus", as I hate it less with each viewing and I am starting to appreciate it more for what it is. Yes, I do find most of the movie to be rather dull since most of the running time is consumed with people wandering around an empty village. Though looking at the big picture, D'Amato did manage to create a pretty decent atmosphere of people being trapped on island with no escape, while this sense of dread lingers in the air as you know there is a killer hiding in the shadows. Accompanied by a fairly decent score, it does manage to create a atmosphere that I think is what gets to most of the fans. Plus, no matter how much I may not like the movie, I cannot deny the fact that the movie made an impact because it was actually a fairly shocking movie to come out at the time, which is why it has gained the following it has. As long as you watch the movie without buying into the fandom and hype around "Anthropophagus" then you'll probably enjoy it. At least more so than I did.