Absurd [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - 88 Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (13th June 2024).
The Film

The Bennett household – businessman father (The Lonely Lady's Ian Danby), housewife mother Carol (Hanja Kochansky), au pair Peggy (Rats: Night of Terror's Cindy Leadbetter), recovering paraplegic daughter Katia (Nana's Katya Berger), and her pain-in-the-ass kid brother Willy (Tuareg: The Desert Warrior's Kasimir Berger) – is upset when an apparent thief (The Unholy Four's George Eastman) stumbles onto their property with his intestines leaking out of his stomach after being impaled on their front gate by a pursuer (Don't Open Till Christmas's Edmund Purdom). The man is rushed to the hospital with a grim prognosis until his blood starts to coagulate and his wounds start to heel themselves before the eyes of Dr. Kramer (Catacombs' Ted Rusoff) and colleague Emily (Laure's Annie Belle).

Investigating Sergeant Engleman (Contraband's Charles Borromel) makes the connection between the thief Mikos Stenopolis and his pursuer who turns out to be a priest, but is unwilling to buy his story that the other man's healing power are the result of a biochemical experiment gone awry and that the imperfect regeneration of his cells has turned him into an insane killer until the patient escapes after driving a surgical drill through the skull of a nurse. The pair, along with Engleman's junior partner (Manhattan Baby's Martin Sorrentino), latch onto Mikos' trail of carnage which takes a turn back to the Bennett house after he is run down by Mr. Bennett who was so eager to get home so that he and his wife could go the neighbors to eat pasta and watch the big football game. The parents leave their children with Peggy and physical therapist Emily, unaware that Mikos is lurking in the shadow with a grudge.

While the plotting of Absurd is so "absurdly" by-the-numbers, it does set itself apart from the other slasher cash-ins by some extreme gore – by drill, bandsaw, pickaxe, scissors, compass, oven, and battle-axe – along with the idiosyncrasies that arise from the film's attempts at an American setting from the very Italian villa of the Bennetts of long corridors festooned with billowing draperies and suits of armor to the constant remark about "the big game" between the Rams and Steelers and the flip-flopping accent of Peggy who goes from "the boogeyman will be getting' ya" to her "yes mums." The 35mm photography of cinematographer/director Aristide Massaccessi AKA Joe D'Amato is much slicker here than in Anthropophagus – although the film was conceived as a semi-sequel and titled "Antropophagus II" in some territories, it was actually released as "Rosso Sangue" in Italy – and gets much mileage out of the atmospheric synth and organ scoring of later D'Amato Filmirage regular Carlo Maria Cordio (Troll 2) in the period before all of his Korg keyboard scores would run together.

Apart from Purdom and Borromel, performances are largely functional with only writer/star Eastman making a real impression with his exaggerated expressions making up for his lack of dialogue. The climax is more successfully suspenseful than that of the earlier film with Katia trying to elude a blinded Mikos under cover of an LP organ music at high volume – Halloween II was in production at the same time and also coincidentally included a sequence with Michael being blinded in both eyes and Laurie trying to evade him in silence – culminating in a deranged freeze frame final shot. D'Amato's later Filmirage productions would trade meld slasher elements with the supernatural in more entertaining, less slavishly-imitative manner. Michele Soavi – who would go on to work as assistant director to D'Amato, Lamberto Bava (A Blade in the Dark), and Dario Argento (Phenomena), and would go on to direct the Eastman-scripted, D'Amato-produced Stagefright – has a brief role as a biker who pays the ultimate price for trying to assist Mikos after he has been run down, while another victim played by Goffredo Unger, in one of two scenes paying homage to Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead, was once on the other side of sadistic slayings as the stunt double for the killer of Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace. A soap opera playing on television is actually a clip from D'Amato's Sesso Nero.


Released straight to video uncut from Wizard Video and to television in abridged form from Empire Television in the United States as "Monster Hunter", Absurd was another D'Amato film that proved more popular in the U.K as a Video Nasty with original VHS copies fetching high prices, while German video releases were edited to prevent it from being banned. Once again, the uncut version showed up first on DVD in Germany from Astro but with German audio only. In the U.S., MYA Communications' unauthorized DVD utilized a non-anamorphic letterboxed transfer of the shorter Italian version and augmented it with poor quality VHS inserts of the footage from the longer English export cut. The film debuted on Blu-ray in the U.K. from 88 Films in 2017 first as an Indiegogo-funded limited edition and then as a standard release featuring HD masters of both English and Italian cuts looking better than anything that had come before; however Severin's stateside 2018 Blu-ray – which also included a CD of Cordio's score in the first 2,500 copies – improved on the existing HD masters by timing out the green tinge evident in the 88 transfers, offering richer colors and healthier skin tones.

88 Films' 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray – also available in a 4K UltraHD/Blu-ray combo – offers new 4K transfers of the English export version (93:55) and the Italian version (88:33) utilizing seamless branching. Like Severin's earlier master, they have also timed out the green tinge but 88's new master is also generally brighter while still offering some richer looking blues and reds. The image is sharp enough to reveal that focus was not always tack sharp during the night exteriors including a few well-lit close-ups. Belle's day-for-night stroll through a moonlit wood looks more believably nocturnal but the pigskin gore effects are much more obvious here (including a shot during the saw scene that does not even try to hide the artifice.


The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono tracks on both versions sound similarly clean with clear dubbed dialogue and Cordio's score having the most presence. The English version features SDH subtitles while the Italian version includes optional English subtitles.


The English version of the film is accompanied by a pair of audio commentaries starting with the brand new audio commentary by film historians Eugenio Ercolani and Nanni Cobretti – who also recorded a track for 88 Film's new 4K UltraHD/Blu-ray combo and Blu-ray editions of Anthropophagus – in which they note that the slasher genre was one of the few on which the Italians did not fully capitalize. Among the reasons they suggest are the specificity of the American setting and culture – which D'Amato and Eastman attempt to ape here – and the target audiences of Italian films being the middle-aged working class rather than teenagers. This dovetails into an observation about the lack of sex in the film and its different treatment in the giallo and American slasher genres. They also note that the film's seeming homages to Fulci are likely intentional as D'Amato held Fulci in high regard and was proud of producing Fulci's last film Door to Silence even though it did not do well.

Ported over from the earlier 88 Films Blu-ray is the audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues (Justin Kerswell, Joseph Henson, Nathan Johnson, Erik Threlfall) in which they note not only the similarities with Halloween II and the later Chuck Norris vehicle Silent Rage but also how the backstory of the priest "serving the Lord through biochemistry" anticipates [REC]. They also discuss the "absurdities" of the American setting and the use of dubbing artists Danby, Boromel, and Rusoff as actors – former matinee idol Purdom was also working as a dubbing artist in Italy in addition to taking character roles – as well as noting Kochansky was the mother of the Berger siblings, the children of actor William Berger (The Spider Labyrinth). They also discuss the film as being both a slasher and an anti-giallo unconcerned with concealing the identity of the killer or establishing any kind of motive.

"When Luigi Met George" (27:06) is a new interview with Montefiori who discusses his beginnings at film school and auditioning at Cinecitta – with his teachers advising him that he would surely end up doing westerns instead of the more serious films he desired – working in film while also pursuing other interests including running restaurants and even an ice cream parlor in Miami but going back into the movies when he had children, as well as starting to do more writing when he was told he had the wrong physique for doing police films. He only briefly discusses the D'Amato films along with some of his later films and finding Q&A sessions on the fan circuit "torturous."

Ported from the 2017 Blu-ray is "The Absurd Factor" (14:27) in which Montefiori discusses the origins of Anthropophagus and the sequel which he prefers but also his working relationship with Soavi who directed Stagefright when Montefiori had issues with a restaurant he was opening (Montefiori instead ended up directing the Florida-lensed sci-fi thriller Metamorphosis. He also reveals that D'Amato wanted him to write something for Soavi to direct after he had started working with Argento but the project fell through and D'Amato blamed him for his relationship breaking down with Soavi (Montefiori's own relationship with Soavi was repaired as the director hired him to do some rewrites on his script for the TV miniseries Uno Bianca. He also discusses the waning days of Filmirage and how D'Amato early death.

"The Sound of Filmirage" (18:25) is a new interview composer Cordio who reveals that it was D'Amato who hired him to rescore the English version of Riccardo Freda's Murder Obsession, although he mistakenly believes the film had been directed by D'Amato and that he had been hired to completely replace the original score by Franco Mannino which still appears on the Italian-language version of the film. He reveals that D'Amato usually considered him for horror films but that he got to work in other genres with other filmmakers before D'Amato hired him for other films, and he is particularly proud of his scores for Ator: The Fighting Eagle and Caligula: The Untold Story as well as his films for Fulci.

Also ported from the earlier Blu-ray is "An Uncredited Biker" (17:10), an interview with Soavi who recalls that he had been trying to get onto movie sets when D'Amato's assistant director Claudio Bernabei (Like Rabid Dogs) recruited him to be a biker on the film and that he hung around after to help out behind the scenes leading to more film roles and assistant directing and his first directing job. He fondly recalls watching D'Amato direct and working within the "talent factory" of Filmirage but also recalls "abandoning" D'Amato and Argento to do his own thing.

"How Absurd: An Italian Slasher" (13:47) is a visual essay by film historian Mike Foster who discusses how the film incorporated many elements of slasher and American police thrillers without seeming to entirely understand them, including depicting the killer early on as a relentless Jason Vorhees type only to turn him into a more selective stalker in the second half of the film.

The "Absurd" export trailer (2:43) closes out the disc.


The standard retail version offers nothing special in terms of packaging but the 88 Films website exclusive edition includes a rigid slipcase with original VHS artwork, a double-sided A3 poster, and a 40-page perfectbound book featuring:
- "Absurd - Joe D'amato and the Outer Limits of Bad Taste" by David Flint;
- "Rosso Sangue" by Johnny Mains;
- "No Saints Day - Absurd, the Italian Halloween" by Jon Dear;
- "Slasher Italian Films …and No Sex Please" by Pier Maria Bocchi;
- and "Absurdly Awesome" by Mia Boffey.


Although known in some territories as "Anthropophagus II" or "Rosso sangue" (Blood Red), Joe D'Amato's attempt to ape the American slasher film really is as Absurd as its English export title.


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