• Absurd (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: September 25th, 2018.
    Director: Joe D’Amato
    Cast: George Eastman, Edmund Purdom
    Year: 1981
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    Absurd – Movie Review:

    Known under a myriad of titles – Monster Hunter, Antropophagous 2, and The Grim Reaper 2 (and at one point released by Mya Communications as Horrible) – Severin Films brings Joe D’Amato and George Eastman’s 1981 follow up to Anthropophagous under the Absurd title, probably the film’s best-known moniker.

    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 of Pieces fame!) 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.’ This means that his body will stand up to a whole lot more abuse than the normal man can withstand. The inhabitants of the house where he was impaled – an annoying kid named Willy Bennett (Kasimir Berger) who stomps when he doesn’t get his way, and his bedridden sister Katia (Katya Berger) as well as their babysitter Peggy (Cindy Leadbetter) – are understandably freaked out. But the cops come and take him away and soon enough he’s at the local hospital. Out of sight, out of mind.

    But of course, Nikos escapes, drilling a nurse through her head on his way out the door. That priest shows up on the scene, piquing the interest of Sgt. Ben Engleman (Charles Borromel). Later on, Ian Bennet (Ian Danby) and his wife (Hanja Kochansky) prepare to head out for the night, remarkably unconcerned about what happened and content to leave their kids with the sitter again until close Katia’s friendly nurse Emily (Annie Belle) can takeover. 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 Antropophagous, this film is pretty gory and full of a thick, almost palpable atmosphere. But also like Antropophagous, 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 (though 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. He doesn’t really have any dialogue, he just sort of grunts and groans here and there, but he does it well. 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, however. Some of the child actors here are at times a bit groan inducing in that they’re not in the least bit convincing – we’re looking at you, Kasimir Berger! However, Edmund Purdom in the role of the priest is fun and it’s always nice to see the lovely Annie Belle of Laure and House At The Edge Of The Park pop up. She looks quite appealing here in her nurses uniform. Before he gained fame as a director, a young Michele Soavi popped here in an uncredited role as a biker.

    At its core, Horrible might not be much more than a standard stalk and slash film. You could even draw some parallels between the relationship that exists between Karamanlis and the priest in this film to the relationship that exists between Michael Meyers and Dr. Loomis in Halloween. 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 Antropophagous (and for the record I really, really did) then you’ll find similarly enjoyable material here. Don’t go into this one expecting some sort of unsung Italian horror classic, but if you don’t mind the pacing and appreciate George Eastman and strong gore, you should get a kick out of it.

    Absurd – Blu-ray Review:

    The previous DVD release from Mya was a non-anamorphic transfer sourced mostly from an okay looking print with video inserts put in here and there to make for what was basically an uncut composite. Watchable, but not ideal even ten years ago. Thankfully, Severin Films’ Blu-ray is taken from a 2k scan of the original negative and it looks much, much better than that old DVD. Detail is vastly improved and colors look quite natural and far superior. The image is nice and clean but not devoid of a natural amount of film grain. There’s very little print damage here at all, actually. Skin tones look fine and black levels are solid. No complaints here. We don’t have the 88 Films Blu-ray release on hand to compare it to but this disc basically turns the older Mya release into a coaster.

    DTS-HD Mono tracks are provided in English and Italian with closed captions available for the English track and English subtitles (not dubtitles) available for the Italian track. Both tracks are pretty clean and feature properly balanced levels. No problems here – hiss and distortion are never problematic and the score definitely benefits from the lossless treatment, as do some of the effects.

    Extras start off with an interview with Luigi Montefiori (a.k.a. George Eastman) entitled Return Of The Grim Reaper. Over thirty-one minutes, he speaks about how he first came to collaborate with D’Amato before then talking about how the success of Anthropophagous led to the idea to make a second film, even though his character dies at the end of the first one. He then talks about writing the picture, some of the gore effects and his thoughts on a few of his co-stars (he quite enjoyed working with Purdom) before then going on to talk about how D’Amato would let anyone who wanted to work for free help out behind the scenes on his movies. He also talks about how D’Amato could have been an A-list cinematographer but never really got to because he was content making all of these B-films. As usual, Eastman is pretty upfront and blunt about all of this – it’s interesting stuff.

    D’Amato On Video is a twenty-minute archival tape-sourced interview with the late director who talks about his career making B-movies and adult pictures. He also talks about some of the people that he collaborated with, hitting on a few of his better-known titles, talking about how and why he worked on Franco’s Justine, the ‘truth’ about his involvement in Porno Holocaust and more. It’s very, very fast paced with D’Amato sitting behind a desk, smiling and rambling off facts like crazy.

    A third featurette, A Biker (Uncredited), gets Soavi in front of the camera for eighteen-minutes to talk about how he wound up playing the part in the movie that he got, his thoughts on what it was like working with D’Amato early on in his career and more.

    Aside from that we get a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection – and the disc comes packaged with some seriously cool reversible cover sleeve art. The first 2,500 copies of this release also come with a CD copy of the film’s excellent soundtrack, which is a really nice touch and a good incentive to get on this one early.

    Absurd – The Final Word:

    Absurd is pretty solid stuff. Eastman is in very fine form here and the supporting cast do fine work. Like its predecessor, the more memorable moments in the film involve the ridiculous gore scenes, but these scenes are done well. Throw in a great score and a healthy dose of wonkiness and this turns out to be pretty entertaining. Severin’s done a very nice job bringing this to Blu-ray – it looks really nice, sounds just as good and features some great extras.

    Click on the images below for full sized Absurd Blu-ray screen caps!