Release Date(s)1981 (September 25, 2018)
Studio(s)Cinema 80/Filmirage/Metaxa Corporation/Megastar Films (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C+
After Anthropophagous gave gorehounds another reason to get out of their coffins in the morning, George Eastman and Joe D’Amato teamed up once again for another gut-spilling horror romp called Absurd, which depending on when and where you saw it in the world, could have been called everything from Horrible to Anthropophagus 2 to Rosso sangue to Zombie 6 to Monster Hunter. Like its predecessor, it too wound up on the U.K.’s infamous Video Nasties list and has only ever been readily available on VHS. And with the blood-soaked axe on its front cover, it helped make for memorable walk down the aisle at your local video store.
The initial setup for Absurd makes about as much sense as brushing and flossing your teeth before sitting down to a meal. In the film, a man (George Eastman) has been experimented on by Christian scientists who have given him the ability to heal quickly. Their experiments, however, drive him insane and he escapes, quickly making his way to a small community and zeroing in on a house where the parents aren’t home but two young children and their babysitter are. It’s soon a fight for survival as this seemingly unstoppable monster gets into the house and attempts to murder them all, but not before a no-nonsense cop and a mysterious priest can stop him.
Absurd, in some ways, is a more interesting film than Anthropophagous, despite neither really having anything to do with each other. The film has been relentlessly compared to Halloween over the years due to its seemingly indestructible antagonist stalking a babysitter and her charges, with one of them constantly looking in the shadows for the “bogeyman.” Putting the children in danger also raises the stakes a little, whereas a lot of horror films take the kids out of the equation before the carnage ever starts. It’s also fascinating how the filmmakers attempted to make the setting seem like its somewhere in the U.S., but never really succeeded at doing so.
As for the gory moments, there aren’t an abundant number of them, and only a couple of them are effective. The real problem with the film is how long it is. Each scene individually, particularly in the latter half, feels interminable. Eastman himself is his typical movie monster self, saying nothing and mostly groaning, grunting, and growling – in no particular order. Regardless, Absurd is still likely only for the most hardcore of horror crowds who like to seek out more obscure material.
Severin Films brings Absurd to Blu-ray for the first time in two versions, the uncut English version with a running time of 94 minutes, and the Italian version with a running time of 88 minutes, both appearing to come from the same source. As far as content, the Italian version is missing some of the scenes of the parents at their football-watching party, but the amount of bloodshed is virtually the same. The image quality is a major step up from older, VHS-ripped bootlegs (not to mention the impossible-to-find Region 0 DVD release). Grain is solid throughout with excellent depth and detail, especially in the shadows where everything is appropriately dark but not overtly crushed. Color is excellent with nice, juicy reds and period browns and greens. Everything appears clean and stable as well with no major anomalies cropping up. For the audio, an English 2.0 DTS-HD track and subtitles in English SDH are available for the English version and an Italian 2.0 DTS-HD track with optional English subtitles are available for the Italian version. Neither track sounds any better than the other, but both feature clear (though dubbed) dialogue and good separation for sound effects and the hard-driving synth score.
Extras for this release include The Return of the Grim Reaper, a 31-minute interview with actor/writer/co-producer Luigi Montefiori (George Eastman); Joe D’Amato on Video, a 20-minute archival interview with director Aristide Massaccesi; A Biker (Uncredited), an 18-minute interview with Michele Soavi; the film’s trailer (with the Absurd title attached) in HD; and a CD soundtrack, which is included in the first 2,500 copies. An earlier U.K. Blu-ray release from 88 Films also featured an audio commentary by the folks from The Hysteria Continues (Justin Kerswell, Joseph Henson, Nathan Johnson, and Erik Threlfall) and The Absurd Files, an interview with Luigi Montefiori, neither of which are included here.
With Anthropophagous and Absurd, Severin Films have plumbed the depths of obscure Italian horror and dug up a couple of minor gems, given them a fine spit and polish, and released them with some nice extras in tow. These kinds of horror titles aren’t for the uninitiated or the squeamish, that’s for sure, but for fans on the hunt for rare items, both releases are worth their time.
– Tim Salmons