Color, 1981, 93 mins. 55 secs. / 88 mins. 33 secs.
Directed by Joe D'Amato
Starring George Eastman, Edmund Purdom, Annie Belle, Charles Borromel, Katya Berger, Kasmir Berger, Ted Rusoff
Severin Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), 88 Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK R0, RB/R2 HD/PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Mya Communications (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.66:1)

After Absurdscoring his most notorious international Absurdhit with Anthropophagus (known to U.S. drive-in fans as The Grim Reaper), director Joe D'Amato (a.k.a. Aristide Massaccesi) and frequent star-writer-producer George Eastman (Luigi Montefiore) made the wise decision to mount a sequel of sorts with Absurd, a mash-up of early '80s slasher tropes that quickly ran afoul of the U.K.'s BBFC during the Video Nasty panic. The film didn't make as much of a box office splash but remained popular over the years, often drifting around under a multitude of titles like Monster Hunter (for its U.S. VHS release) and Rosso Sangue (its shorter, differently edited Italian variant). Not surprisingly, its fan following today is bigger than ever thanks to its splashy gore scenes, ridiculous pilfering of contemporary horror hits, and lunatic depiction of America's suburban lifestyle.

After escaping from an institute and falling on a spiked fence in the process, a hulking maniac (Eastman) stumbles into a nearby house and collapses onto the floor with his entrails hanging out. A priest (Purdom) in pursuit seems very concerned when the monstrosity gets hauled off the hospital and seems on the brink of death on the operating table, only Absurdto regenerate Absurdat a shocking rate just in time to plunge a drill into one nurse's head. The cops and the priest start conferring a lot about what to do as the brute heads back out to terrorize the household where young Willy and his post-surgery, bedridden older sister, Katia (played by Kasmir and Katya Berger, real life children of actor William Berger), are left in the care of a babysitter while their parents are off watching football and scarfing down spaghetti. Before the night is over, the kids and Katia's nurse, Emily (Laure's Belle), are fighting for the lives against an unstoppable terror who's been engineered to grow back damaged cells no matter how much he gets mutilated.

Tons of fun if you know what you're in for, Absurd doesn't skimp on the grue and, unlike its immediate predecessor, starts splashing it around right out of the gate. The nods to Halloween are impossible to ignore thanks to the whole babysitter angle and the dogged, Dr. Loomis-style investigator trying to save the day, and the climax manages to lift some imagery from The Shining and the same year's Halloween II for good measure. That said, Absurdit's also interesting to see how this one anticipates the horror/action Absurdhybrid Silent Rage (released the following year) and even anticipates Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter with its twisted stinger finale. This being a D'Amato film, you can also expect some really bizarre touches along the way like that aforementioned spaghetti pig out, the very European villa decor, and babysitter's decision to let young Willy entertain himself by watching the wonders of Mark Shannon in D'Amato's horror-porn oddity, Sesso Nero. One major boost to the film is the memorable, pounding electronic score by Carlo Maria Cordio, which was later repurposed as a library music LP and ended up being used throughout the English version of Pieces (also starring Purdom). In a funny touch, one of the investigating deputies is played by an uncredited Martin Sorrentino, reprising his cranky cop routine verbatim from Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead.

Heavily cut in the U.K. and appearing all around the globe in a variety of edits, Absurd proved to be even more complicated given the fact that the English and Italian versions have very different running times. In 2009, Mya Communication released a compromised and legally sketchy DVD (under the title Horrible) compositing the film from a variety of sources, including some very blurry VHS inserts wedged into a better transfer of the shorter Italian cut; it's presented Absurdat a 1.66:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic Absurdenhancement, featuring the English or Italian (with no subtitle options) audio choices. It's going for way too much money now and should be avoided entirely. A crowdfunded U.K. Blu-ray release was mounted in 2017 by 88 Films, who presented the film in its complete English version as well as the alternate Italian one with a new 2K scan from the original camera negative. Obviously it blew away the earlier releases but left some room for improvement (more on that below), while the feature can also be played with a rollicking audio commentary by the always welcome gang from The Hysteria Continues. They focus on the early '80s slasher aspects of course, noting how it swipes from U.S. hits while retaining its own distinctive flavor. On top of that you also get an Eastman interview, "The Absurd Files" (14m21s), as well as one with future director Michele Soavi (17m47s) who turns up briefly as an uncredited biker and would perform various duties on D'Amato films around this time before directing Stagefright with the involvement of both D'Amato and Eastman. The package also comes with liner notes and a video nasties guide by Calum Waddell.

AbsurdIn 2018, Severin Films brought the film back to the U.S. first its first official release in decades, as separate Blu-ray and DVD releases. Though taken from the same negative, this transfer looks markedly different with a richer, more colorful appearance compared to the flatter, greener U.K. disc. AbsurdThe color timing has also been adjusted to indoor scenes meant to be taking place with lower light sources (such as the football watching) are now appropriately dark instead of featuring boosted brightness. Again you have the option of watching the uncut English-language version or the shorter Italian one, with respective English SDH or English-translated subtitles options. A new Eastman interview, "The Return of the Grim Reaper" (30m53s), essentially picks up where his one for Anthropophagus left off as he talks about his fondness for D'Amato, his higher opinion of this film, his thoughts on the more prestigious writing projects he got for Italian TV, and the vicious nature of some of the murder scenes including a nasty bit involving an oven. The archival shot-on-VHS "D’Amato on Video" (19m43s) basically features the director sitting at a desk stampeding through his career highlights including his surgical work on Jess Franco's Justine, the messy tangle of his hardcore Santo Domingo cycle (claiming he didn't actually put together Porno Holocaust), and his memories of Tisa Farrow, who was driving a cab when she wasn't acting. Finally, "A Biker (Uncredited)" (17m47s) is the same Soavi interview from the U.K. release, and the theatrical trailer is also included. The film is available as an individual Blu-ray (with the first 2,500 copies also including a soundtrack CD) and DVD, as part of a Video Nasty slipcase bundle with Anthropophagus, or the extravagant The Man-Eater Bundle with the slipcases,soundtrack , Joe D'Amato and Anthropophagus enamel pins, a T-shirt, and Anthropophagus plush doll.



88 FILMS (Blu-ray)



Reviewed on September 23, 2018.