• Horrible



    Released by: Mya Communications
    Released on: July 28, 2009.
    Director: Joe D’Amato
    Cast: George Eastman, Annie Belle, Charles Borromel, Katya Berger, Edmund Purdom
    Year: 1981
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    The Movie:

    Known under a myriad of titles – Absurd, Monster Hunter, Antropophagus 2, and The Grim Reaper 2 – the uber mysterious Mya Communications have opted to release Joe D’Amato and George Eastman’s 1981 follow up to Anthropophagous as Horrible. Why? No one really seems to know, but here it is, for better or worse.

    In the film, Eastman plays a man named Nikos Karamanlis who, when we first meet him, has escaped from a laboratory where a priest (Edmund Purdom) was in charge of looking after him. Nikos gets impaled on a fence, something that would kill a normal man, but we learn he’s got a blood condition that gives him a sort of ‘mutant healing factor’ meaning that his body will stand up to a whole lot more abuse than the normal man can withstand. So with Nikos on the loose, the priest in charge shows up to try and take him back, but of course it can’t be that easy, Nikos needs to kill and it’s going to prove to be very difficult to stop him…

    Like Antropophagus, this film is pretty gory and full of a thick, almost palpable atmosphere. But also like Antropophagus, it’s fairly slow in pace and it takes quite a while to get going, meaning that if the meandering tone and structure of the earlier picture put you off, you’re probably going to run into the same issue with the follow up picture (it’s not a direct sequel despite some of the alternate titles implying so). That said, D’Amato and Eastman are at least reliable in that they deliver the same caliber of nasty gore this time around that made the first film as popular as it is. Eastman is excellent in the lead, lumbering about the small town where the story is set with plenty of Karloff-esque monsterisms and milking the part for all its worth. His large stature and rather psychotic looking facial features give his almost entirely silent performance plenty of weight and his very screen presence goes a long way towards saving this picture.


    The rest of the cast are fine, even if they don’t really stand out. The bit part players who make up the family that wind up being terrorized by Nikos are pretty forgettable and some of the child actors here are at times a bit groan inducing in that they’re not in the least bit convincing, but Edmund Purdom in the role of the priest is fun and it’s always nice to see the lovely Annie Belle pop up, here looking quite appealing in her nurses uniform.


    At its core, Horrible might not be much more than a standard stalk and slash film. There’s not much here that sets it apart from other pictures of its ilk save for the atmosphere, and the Eastman factor. Whether or not that’s enough for you will depend on your appreciation of such things. It’s pretty safe to say that if you dug Antropophagus (and for the record I really did) then you’ll find similarly enjoyable material here but don’t go into this one expecting some sort of unsung Italian horror classic.


    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Mya has pieced together this film from two different sources, one of which is a print which was obviously in great shape, the other an analog tape source of some sort. Thankfully, the print makes up 97% of the running time, with only a few sporadic inserts sourced from the tape. Sadly, the whole affair is presented in 1.66.1 non-anamorphic widescreen, but at least the film appears to be wholly intact and the tape sourced material is really only brief scene extensions – the good stuff all comes from the superior source. Image quality, lack of anamorphic enhancement not withstanding, is otherwise alright. Colors are good, detail isn’t bad, and while there are some specks here and there, print damage is held firmly in check. Mya really should have put more effort in here, however, it seems like a pretty lazy job…

    You’ve got your choice of watching the film in its Italian language track, without any subtitles of any kind, or in an English dubbed track. So yeah, unless you speak Italian, you’re watching this puppy in English, like it or not – a continually frustrating move on the part of Mya. As far as the English track goes, it’s fine. You won’t have any problems understanding the dialogue and the levels are well balanced. It won’t blow you away but it gets the job done with little room for complaint. There’s some background hiss here and there but it’s never overpowering. Could it have been better? Yes, definitely, but it is at least sufficient, faint praise as that may be. Omitting subtitles for the Italian track on a release intended for an English speaking market renders that track more or less redundant, however…


    Aside from a very simple menu, this release is completely barebones, it doesn’t even contain a trailer or a still gallery.

    The Final Word:

    This one won’t win over the D’Amato doubtful but the converts who already appreciate the languid pacing, thick atmosphere and irreverent gore of his earlier Antropophagus will definitely appreciate this follow up film, firmly rooted in similar territory even if it isn’t a direct sequel per se. Mya’s DVD, on the other hand, is a fairly slipshod affair, devoid of any extras and containing quirky audio and video quality. It’s the best offering the film has, domestically at least, so die-hard’s will want it regardless, but here’s hoping someone with more respect for the source material can give it a stronger presentation down the road.