A man who makes nasty horror films and hardcore porn is okay by me. No. I’ve not seen any of Joe D’Amato’s porn (I think it’s all straight stuff), but I will talk about his heinous horror flicks!
BEYOND THE DARKNESS (1979)
Beyond the Darkness is probably D’Amato’s most heinous and perverse flick, simply because the character doing all the horrific things isn’t what you’re supposed to fear—he’s the leading man.
There’s this young rich guy whose fiancée dies. Little does he know his jealous maid killed her with a voodoo doll. Now that the maid has him all to herself, she helps him set up his fiancée comfortably in bed—after he’s dug her up and stuffed her like a cheap piece of taxidermy. The maid also helps him dispose of numerous female bodies after he brings them home and kills them.
Beyond the Darkness is classic Euro depravity. His maid breastfeeds him to ease his sorrow. The scene of him hollowing out his dead fiancée is infamous for how real it looks. He even makes out with her heart. He rips out every fingernail of a hitchhiker before killing her—then his maid hacks her into pieces so he can give her an acid bath. The maid jerks him off while he stares at his fiancee’s corpse. He bites out a jogger’s jugular.
It’s shocking that he’s so inexplicably psycho, because he’s a handsome guy with loads of money and could have any woman he wants. Oh well. This piece of trash is totally watchable for gore whores—and those who love big pubic bushes, because there are plenty of them. Of course, they’re all growing out of dead women….
The movie is also notable for featuring a soundtrack by Goblin, who did the creepy score for Suspiria. I’ve yet to hear any score from Goblin that is that amazing—the rest, including the score for Beyond the Darkness, sound like really bad electronic disco to me (this coming from someone who grew up on and loves electronic disco). But fans seem to think Goblin can do no wrong in their horror movie music, so it’s one more reason to watch Beyond the Darkness. It really is classic Euro horror.
ANTHROPOPHAGUS (1980) (aka: several other spellings)
Aside from making the gorefest Beyond the Darkness, director Joe D’Amato is probably most infamous for the scene in the Anthropophagus in which the monster man rips a fetus out of a woman and eats it. The problem is, a movie with that kind of reputation has a lot to live up to for the first hour and a half that comes before the repulsive moment. So naturally, this Italian horror film has been deemed totally boring by many.
Putting aside a really annoying, whimsical piano soundtrack used at points in the movie, Anthropophagus is actually an unsettling film that has plenty going on, as well as the usual nonsensical European horror movie scenarios that only manage to make it even more twisted and disturbing.
The opening scene of a guy and girl being attacked at the shore sets us up for the gruesome gore we can expect. Then we meet a group of tourists coming to the same island on a boat—and finding the island is deserted…if you exclude the rotting corpses inside some of the buildings!
While the gang is making this grisly discovery, their boat drifts out to sea—with their pregnant friend on it! And their attitude is sort of “Oh, well. We’ll worry about her tomorrow. Let’s get some sleep.” Awesome.
They stay in a creepy house, complete with thunder and lightning. There’s a cheap pussy scare before we get to the real threat. It’s that fetus-eater on the cover with the nasty face! He is big and ominous and appears in dark corners when lightning flashes outside. And he’s one vicious killer. He simply rips your jugular out…with his teeth.
All the Euro-horror melodrama aside (including a love triangle) Anthropophagus is classic horror throughout if you don’t just sit there waiting for the baby buffet scene. The final chase is intense and gory, and the gross image that closes the movie leaves a lasting impression.
HORRIBLE (aka: Absurd) (1981)
Horrible, also known as Absurd, is considered a sequel to Anthropophagus. The only thing it really has in common is that George Eastman, who played the killer in Anthropophagus, is once again the freaky killer. Aside from his face not looking gnarly in Horrible (he’s virtually a pretty boy without that makeup), at heart he is the same ominous, tall, and silent killer with the insane eyes.
However, this time, he has an ability to heal himself, making him much harder to destroy. There’s a plot about a priest who is hunting him down to do away with him, but that doesn’t even matter. Horrible is dark, gritty slasher madness with the added bonus of being an Italian horror flick, which means it is repulsively gory.
The uber gross and explicitly detailed kills include a drill through the head, a bandsaw through the head, axe to the head, a face fried in an oven, and an axe to the neck (I’m still wondering about the whereabouts of some of these actors…).
But it’s not all about the gore. The killer ends up in one particular house stalking his victims in dark rooms, creating some incredibly effective atmosphere. Although, a hokey highlight has a girl distracting him by turning on music—terrifying horror movie organ music! Only Euro horror could get away with this kind of foolishness!
The movie has been called a Halloween rip-off, and this final segment in the house is obviously the reason why. The good news is, if you love Halloween and gory Euro horror, then there’s no excuse not to love Horrible.