Color, 1983, 97 mins. 22 secs.
Directed by Eligio Herrero
Starring Carole Kirkham, Geir Indvard, José Yepes, and Larry the dog
Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)
WS (2.35:1) (16:9)
We've had plenty of post-nuke films over the years ranging from Italian action epics to potent satires like A Boy and His Dog, but there's nothing out there quite like Human Animals. Though filled with a fair amount of sex and nudity involving its only three human cast members, this Spanish production is about as uncommercial as they come and makes previously out-there apocalypse head trips like Glen and Randa and Cries of Ecstasy, Blows of Death look mainstream by comparison. Devoid of a single word of coherent dialogue, it's an outrageous experience complete with a great prog rock score and a climax filled with some nutty plot turns that can still leave viewers' jaws on the floor.
After nuclear war has laid waste to the planet, two people presumed to be siblings-- Kirkham and Indvard-- inexplicably garbed in evening wear wake up in the middle of a barren landscape. Unable to communicate in any kind of coherent language, they're joined by another man next to them (The Mummy's Revenge's Yepes) who wakes up wearing a leather jacket and very bright red pants. As they explore the terrain including a cliff overlooking the sea, they try to find a place to build a home and come upon a domesticated dog who becomes part of their makeshift community. Unfortunately Yepes is prone to random outbursts of sexual violence, while the sole woman finds her desires soon wandering elsewhere. It isn't long before the survivors' world descends into jealousy and brutality, ultimately leading to death.
A wild oddity to be sure and definitely not for all tastes, Human Animals appears to have gotten virtually no theatrical play before it started popping up on VHS in a few territories throughout the '80s including Japan, West Germany, Australia, and a peculiar release that ended up in some of the more out-there mom and pop video stores in the U.S. That last option (so elusive now that no trace of it seems to exist anymore) was presumably the source for what led to a hilariously incensed review from the legendary Chas Balun, who slapped the film with his lowest possible rating (a "dog," appropriately enough) and spoiled part of the ending to boot. If you're expecting either a gory grindhouse epic or a trashy sexploitation film, you'll be left scratching your head; this is crazy outside cinema all the way, more in tune with the likes of Alejandro Jodorowsky and company with a cockeyed sensibility that really goes into overdrive during the last 20 minutes.
Cited as the first volume in Mondo Macabro's "Series Clasificada 'S'" series devoted to adults-only Spanish cinema in the immediate wake of General Franco, Human Animals came to Blu-ray in 2021 initially as a red-case limited edition (1200 units) featuring a reversible color sleeve and a 24-page booklet with a new essay by Spanish film expert Ismael Fernández outlining the "S"-rated softcore wave that started in the late '70s and encompassed some truly wild films by Jess Franco. It's a great primer including looks at some of the key actresses of the era and Jane, My Little Savage, the only other film by Human Animals director Eligio Herrero. Speaking of which, you get a great new video interview here with Herrero (50m55s) about the insane frenzy of Spanish filmmaking at the time as a legal necessity to import licensed films from other countries, the ins and outs of being a producer dealing with government regulations and financial requirements, his experiences with other filmmakers like Javier Aguirre, his sometimes uncredited work on screenplays, the box office necessity to turn to erotic films, his direction of the mostly inexperienced cast on this film, the theory behind chucking out any dialogue, and lots more. As for the film itself... wow, does this look amazing. Anyone who suffered through the old VHS editions will be gobsmacked at the clarity on display here, as this really looks like it could have been shot yesterday. A disclaimer at the beginning notes what appears to be an in-camera flaw within the film itself on the negative, which is actually identical to what's seen in a few shots in the same year's The Beast and the Magic Sword (meaning the same faulty camera was probably used on both productions). The LPCM 2.0 mono track sounds great, and of course in the case of this film you don't have to worry about subtitles or dialogue clarity. Extra points for what may be the single most misleading menu screen in Blu-ray history.
Reviewed on August 25, 2021