Friday, 20 January 2017


One of the notorious 'video nasties' from the early eighties, Absurd (AKA Grim Reaper 2, Horrible, Monster Hunter, etc.) is sometimes considered a sequel of a kind to the equally lurid Anthropophagus, although the two have little in common other than George Eastman (Luigi Montefiori) playing the central role as an inhuman killer, the cause of a number of grisly bloodbaths along the way.  Here the character is on the run from a priest and deemed to be as near to immortal as possible in the sense that his damaged cells regenerate rapidly.  After being hospitalised during the chase his body repairs and he escapes.  A car accident brings him back to the house where (in the opening sequence) he previously attempted to seek sanctuary.  There he reaps bloody havoc on the inhabitants of the house as the Police waste time giving the priest a third degree treatment.

Pretty straightforward plot with hints of a Halloween influence, Aristide Massaccesi/Joe D'Amato's gutmuncher is a little clumsy in places, but aims for the viewer's throat when it comes to the murder setpieces, and lingers over the details in much the same way that Lucio Fulci tended to during his peak.  Annie Belle puts in a particularly convincing turn during the sadistic oven scene, which is pretty hard to watch and compulsive at the same time.  Absurd veers away from the mystical atmosphere of Anthropophagus but replaces it with doses of unique Italian madness to keep the entertainment factor above sea level (for example, there's another bizarre and very amusing kid, whose pitiful tantrum at not having his say on the TV channel really has to be witnessed!).
88 Films funded this Blu-ray restoration through Indiegogo, and the result is very pleasing: the widescreen HD image features a healthy bitrate providing plenty of detail (and grain, though not excessively so) without distracting damage.  This is certainly the best it has ever looked and sounded, and refreshing to see that the film can finally pass through the UK censors without any slicing of the wrong kind going on (it has not really been available in the UK for years).  The BBFC really have nastier things to worry about these days!  There are two versions of the film contained on the disc: the 94 minute English language version, and a shorter Italian language version with optional subtitles.  I watched the former in full, and sampled the latter - they looked about the same in terms of picture quality.

Also on the disc is an entertaining commentary led by the very amiable-sounding Justin Kerswell with his Hysteria Continues friends.  I enjoyed listening to this as there is a balanced mix of information and general observation of a mostly humorous nature.  There are additionally a couple of recently filmed interviews with George Eastman and Michele Soavi (who has a small role in Absurd as a motorbiker who meets an unpleasant fate).

Exclusive to the Indiegogo supporters (although they may have a handful left to sell direct through the 88 store) is a nice quality glossy slipcase.  The main cover of the amaray itself is reversible while there's also a booklet in my edition although I'm uncertain whether that's in the standard release or not as it is touted as 'limited' on the back cover.  The booklet presents an essay on the subject of video nasties; I'm not sure what more can be said about this stuff but if you are relatively new to collecting then it may be considered a concise overview of the phenomenon.  The writing looks at the furore that exploded during the early eighties, as well as its revival in the nineties following the Bulger killing, before going on to encapsulate a very short analysis of each of the thirty nine successfully prosecuted tapes.

A reasonably entertaining film packed into an excellent edition, this is overall an essential release for the horror collector by 88 (part of their Italian range).

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