In between his constant output of mostly hardcore sexploitation films, director Joe D'Amato (Aristide Massaccesi) would occasionally churn out a straight horror flick, achieving some success with the Greek Island trash fest ANTHROPOPHAGUS (aka THE GRIM REAPER) in 1980. Bringing back that film’s intimidating “monster” actor -- bearded, too-tall George Eastman (Luigi Montefiori) -- this sequel of sorts really has nothing to do with ANTHROPOPHAGUS, other than the fact that Eastman plays another mutated wacko going on a bloody rampage, and the fact that he has a similar Greek name. Originally known as "Rosso sangue", HORRIBLE goes under a number of other titles including ABSURD (surely a reference to a majority of the film’s characters), ANTROPOPHAGUS 2 and MONSTER HUNTER, the name in which most Stateside video hounds discovered it when it went straight to VHS (In Britain, it was one of many films on the infamous "Video Nasties" list).
On a sunny afternoon, a giant of a man named Mikos (Eastman) is seen running away from a peculiar fellow (Edmund Purdom), who we later find out is a Greek priest (initially, he hides his holy profession by clutching his overcoat over his collar). During the chase, Mikos attempts to jump over a spiked gate, but is impaled on the thing, causing him to grasp his dangling innards as he invades the large house of a well-off family. Seemingly on his deathbed, Mikos is brought to the hospital, operated on and then left for the morgue attendant, but he’s not going down that easily and he soon awakens to violently slaughter a nurse, fleeing to carry out the expected serial carnage.
The priest informs a chain-smoking police sergeant (Charles Borromel) that Mikos is an escaped mental patient with a blood clot condition enabling him to rejuvenate himself; in another words, he’s a murderous superhuman and can only be destroyed by a blow to the cranium. The cops easily buy that wild story (with help from the doctor's x-rays) and begin a search, but not before Mikos can invade the same home he did earlier when he was injured, this time rubbing out a babysitter, another nurse and anyone else that stands in his way before getting his mits on the family (the father had just nearly ran him over on his way back from a business trip, so there’s a revenge motif here). With mom and dad out of the house, their young boy (Kasimir Berger, as the most annoying curly-haired kid in Italian horror since in BEYOND THE DOOR's David Colin Jr.) and his injured sister (Katya Berger, who spends most of her screen time tied up to a bed with an awkward brace around her neck) must fend off this all too real “boogeyman” on their own.
Fans of director D'Amato (and let’s face it, there are quite a few) will debate which is the better film, ANTHROPOPHAGUS or HORRIBLE, so that’s still up in the air. Though HORRIBLE looks rushed and its pacing tends to be wearying, the film is highlighted by its gore sequences, and they are numerous and the kind that don’t allow the camera to cut away while the slicing and dicing is in full swing. A nurse has her head fully penetrated by a surgeon’s drill (an obvious nod to Lucio Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD), another nurse suffers a drawn out execution with her head shoved in a gas oven, an orderly has his shiny bald head pierced by a buzzsaw and a blonde cupcake gets a hatchet in the head. Although the gore is definitely inspired by the-then recent trend of graphic extremes in Fulci’s exploits, the film obviously attempts to imitate American style slashers, taking a number of ingredients and plot points from John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (even the relationship between the priest and Mikos echoes Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers). The American connotations don’t end there, as it looks as though the film is set in the States, with upper class adults obsessing over a football game between the Stealers and the Rams while eating bowls of sauceless spaghetti in front of the TV!
Though not wearing the revolting crusty face make-up and wild 1970s Ian Anderson hair he sported in ANTHROPOPHAGUS, George Eastman is always a treat to see and is convincingly menacing, even in his blue jeans, blood-stained tucked-in shirt and white tennis shoes. His prolonged demise is not easy to forget. Continuing a long line of Euro exploitation roles, British actor Purdom (who passed away earlier this year) doesn’t have much to do, but he’s still a respectable presence, albeit one on an obvious downward path career-wise. D'Amato regular Annie Belle (HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK) is featured as a concerned house-calling nurse, and future director Michele Soavi (THE CHURCH, DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE) can be spotted as a victimized biker. The children in the film, Kasimir and Katya Berger, have a famous daddy in Austrian actor William Berger (FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON, SABATA). Keeping it a true family affair, their real-life mom, Hanja Kochansky, also plays that role on screen.
Mya Communication is presenting HORRIBLE on DVD in the U.S. in a non-anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen transfer. Before the film, there is an onscreen disclaimer, explaining that the transfer was taken from two sources to present the most complete version possible. So, about five minutes or so are culled from an inferior (and badly framed) VHS source, and these lesser quality segments are mainly extensions of scenes and no real meat and potatoes (meaning blood and guts). Thankfully, the rest of the show looks quite good, with strong color schemes and a well detailed image with only some minor speckling in the source print. The mono English audio is fine, but has some noticeable hiss and scratchiness on occasion. The stronger Italian track (which goes to English when the random lesser quality bits are displayed) has no English subtitles to support it. Both tracks of course were post-synced in a studio, and most of the actors appear to be speaking English. There are no supplements on the disc, but still a nice job by Mya. (George R. Reis)
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