Horrible (1981)

DECEMBER 3, 2009


One of my first trips to the New Beverly was for a screening of Anthropophagus (actually I think it was the B-movie to a Fulci film; I really need to look through their records and solve this mystery once and for all), which I quite enjoyed and will hopefully revisit someday for a Non Canon review. Until then, you can consider this a review to its “sequel”, Horrible, which is also known as Anthropophagus 2. And Absurd. And Zombie 6. And Monster Hunter. And don’t forget its Italian title: Rosso Sangue, which is what it’s called on this particular print for the DVD, despite the fact that it’s called Horrible on the box art and disc image (all the more strange when you consider that Absurd is the most common title).

Well, whatever the hell it’s called, it’s a batshit, wonderfully nutty movie, as all the best Italian splatter movies are. It also steals liberally from Halloween, which tickled me as I am used to seeing the Italians ripping off our supernatural and zombie movies, but rarely our slashers (and certainly not the granddaddy of all slashers). At one point, our heroine tells the kid she’s babysitting to run down the street for help, and then later our other heroine (spoiler, first heroine is melted in an oven and then stabbed with scissors) is strangled by the killer, only to be saved by the killer’s nemesis, who runs in with a gun after spending most of the night playing catch up with the town sheriff. He even wears a trenchcoat!

The Anthropophagus tie stems from the fact that the killer is played by the same guy (George Eastman), and his name is similar. They also say he’s from a Greek island (there’s a lot of racism levied at the Greek people early on in the film), which puts this pretty much at the top of the pack when it comes to unrelated sequels actually having some semblance to the “original” film. Then again, it has the same director (Joe D’Amato, who also has a number of pseudonyms; he uses Peter Newton here), so I guess it’s fitting that it would have more similarities than usual.

Being an Italian film, there are a number of moments that made me laugh out loud, such as when a woman chastises her daughter for drawing, saying “the doctor said you need to keep your mind active - you should watch TV or something instead.” And one of the heroines suddenly falls down in the woods for no reason whatsoever, only to be fake scared a few minutes later by a guy who was just trying to give her something that she dropped when she fell, yet he somehow managed to be ahead of her. The final shot, too, is funnier than anything I’ve seen in a legit comedy all year.

This DVD is from a company called Mya (it's a very pretty DVD company), who helpfully presented the most complete version of the film they could assemble. Unfortunately this means that they had to use a low-grade VHS transfer for some of the missing footage, and since none of it is gore related, I wish they could have at least given you the option of watching it cut back into the film or not (like Lionsgate did for the original My Bloody Valentine). Plus, every time they cut to this footage, it looks like you’re watching something on a TV inside of the scene, which makes it even MORE confusing when that sort of scene transition actually occurs (the babysitter is watching a soap opera, which the kid attempts to switch by changing channels via a brick sized remote that has a strap on it for some reason). Oddly, some of these scenes would have been even MORE incoherent without the restored footage, such as a scene early on with some punks harassing a bum (which comes out of nowhere with the restored footage, but comes from even FURTHER out of nowhere without it).

The only real issue with the movie is that it drags a lot. The finale goes on forever, as the killer is blinded and is trying to find the girl by staggering around and swinging his arm out (sort of like Halloween II, but like 5x as long). It also takes a full 22 minutes to get to our first kill, which has to be a record for this sort of thing. And the parents of the heroine are off at a Super Bowl party, and not only do they keep cutting to the party, they even keep cutting to the damn game! I appreciate the attempt to bring together jocks and Italian horror junkies, but this simply isn’t the way to go about it.

Sadly the disc has no extras; the menu hilariously tries to fill itself up by offering both Play AND Resume on it (usually if there is any sort of “Resume” button, it takes the place of “Play” if you return to the menu once you’ve already started the movie). D’Amato is dead, but I’m sure some of the younger actors are still around and would be willing to talk about the movie for a few minutes. Maybe they could even explain why the killer was so hellbent on killing this one particular girl. Maybe in Antropophagus 3/Absurd 2/Zombie 7/Rosso Sangue 2 they can reveal she was his sister.

What say you?

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