Anthropophagus

1 out of 5

Directed by: Joe D’Amato

Horror movies can be slow, which of course also allows for a good payoff; they can be bad – bad bad, not good bad – or boring, neither of which are great looks, but at least you know how you feel. And then there’s bland: bland movies are made competently, and maybe make some reasonable moves, but nothing that actually elicits a response. Which I guess I shouldn’t be saying about video nasty Anthropophagus, considering its “man eater” title has some pretty notorious representations, but even as I’m watching our man-eater chow down, it’s with a blank stare; Anthropophagus is one of the blandest horror movies I’ve seen.

This is, again, despite competence: Director / writer Joe D’Amato (Aristide Massaccesi) could’ve shlocked and sexed this up, meeting the requisites of a low budget shocker, but instead, the movie (er, mostly) avoids excess, and goes for an actual story of sorts, with appropriate escalations throughout, even if the cut I watched, while, I believe, complete, seemed to be lacking pretty big plot points that are summarized in the wiki (not that they can’t be assumed, which would at least credit Amato for trusting his audience to get the gist from context).

Anthropophagus boils down to a few tropes – a group of vacationers in Italy visit a secluded island, then get stranded there with a pick-em-off one-by-one villain, but Joe puts a fair amount of story color in there to get everyone semi-reasonably from A to B, although the Italian-to-English dubbing often feels like an afterthought, and the acting of first-take cheapness. Still – not offensively, just… blandly.

Which is where this competence and relative story patience gets us – a few steps toward being a movie that’s actually trying, but then remembering the budget and letting your actors fritter about tjr screen to pad the runtime. Some kooky zooms spice up otherwise perfunctory framing and a muted color palette, making even those key scenes rather mushy cherries atop a flavorless sundae.