The Freshly Remastered Anthropophagous From 88 Films (DVD/ Blu-Ray Comparison)


And we have another new, restored blu-ray release from 88 Films, this time it's Joe D'Amato's most successful horror flick, spelled here as Anthropophagous. I also have this on DVD, where it's spelled Antropophagus, but the most common spelling seems to meet those two in the middle with Anthropophagus. However the heck you're supposed to spell it, the word apparently means cannibal, which is certainly fitting for this nutty film.

Update 8/6/15 -  8/26/17: And we're back, with an all new Remastered Special Edition blu-ray release of Anthropophagus from 88 Films.  Wait a minute, didn't we just say 88 Films had come out with a blu-ray restoration in 2015?  Yup, but they felt they could do better, so as the final entry in their second indiegogo campaign (which also included the sequel to Anthropophagus, Absurd) we have a new version in 2017 with a fresh 2k scan, "extensive colour correction," new special features and some other improvements.
But this isn't your typical Italian "cannibal film" about a native jungle tribe... This is actually set in a very interesting little Greek island town. A couple of young tourists, including Tisa Farrow, sail over for a short vacation, only to find the entire town abandoned. Eventually they do find one or two inhabitants, or more accurately survivors, who seem to have gone a bit funny since of their locals, George Eastman, has turned into a completely insane and even somewhat monstrous killer. The film can be a bit flat and plodding, with a lot of these bland vacationers wandering around empty locations, but Eastman's character has a perfect, memorably horrible look. And when the film finally does come around to its shock sequences, they're rather effective and a couple are particularly over the top, giving this film a nice touch of infamy. It's one of those movies where people who've seen it probably won't remember it too well, but they'll be like, "was this the film where ____ happened?" And oh yes, it's that movie. Those few moments are certainly etched into the memories of everyone who's seen it and they're really what everybody who's interested in this release are here for. And at least there's some interesting scenery during all that time in between.
Now, a lot of people were naturally comparing it to Shriek Show's previous release of the film; but that's not the one I went with back in the day. I used to have an old German DVD from Astro that was taken from a VHS source, but when I upgraded from that, instead of picking up Shriek Show's cropped 1.78:1 DVD, I imported the Italian DVD from Beat Records. It's a two disc set with some extras, which I'll get into, and kept the film more open at 1.66:1. It's debatable which of the two DVDs is better, but the real question these days is how it the blus rate against the older DVD - how much ground did we gain?  And then, of course, how much does the new one really improve matters?
2005 Beat Records DVD top; 2015 88 Films blu middle; 2017 88 Films blu bottom.
So 88 has kept the more open, 1.66:1 ratio (or, to be more accurate, the DVD is 1.66 and both blus are 1.67), leaving all three discs slightly pillar-boxed. Despite having the same ratio, however, we see the framing is slightly shifted on all three versions, with tiny slivers of extra picture on the blu-rays. The colors are kind of flat plus a bit brown on the DVD and green, on the 2015 blu. 88's new color correction really pays off, definitely making this the best I've ever seen the film look, with nice shadows and natural, more vivid colors.
2005 Beat Records DVD left; 2015 88 Films blu middle; 2017 88 Films blu right.
There's still not a wealth of additional detail or anything here. It might strike viewers as a little underwhelming. But getting in close, we see maybe not new information, but even the 2015 blu isn't nearly so splotchy and messy as the grungy DVD. It's definitely a crisper, cleaner image.  But grain looks weird, somehow smoothed down yet digital.  This is definitely not the case on the new 2017 blu, which has very natural and distinct film grain.  I feel like maybe the people doing the 2015 master were worried about how grainy the film is and tried to fidget with the settings to tone it down.  It's 16mm, so the movie's only going to look so clear no matter what you do.  Certainly the image is very alive on the version, but now it's properly film-like, and it does allow small details to pull through a little more, or at least clarifies what was already there on the previous versions.
2015 blu left; 2017 blu right.
Both of 88's blus also have both the original mono English audio and the Italian mono audio with optional English subs. Unlike Zombie Holocaust, that's not so new - both Shriek Show and Beat Records' DVDs already had both options. But it's still the best way to present the film. I should note that the opening scene with the German tourists is not subtitled or dubbed into English on 88's 2015 blu. Beat's DVD subtitles the second half of the scene, after they sit down on the rocks, but not the first half as they walk down the beach. But thankfully, 88's new 2017 blu subtitles the whole thing. Yay! In fact, as you can see in the differences between the two shots above, 88 has gone through and re-translated all the English subtitles for this new version to be more accurate.
Now, labels have always had a hard time coming up with extras for Anthropophagus. Shriek Show just had an interview with Eastman and a general featurette on D'Amato's career, and that's pretty much the best anyone's achieved. The DVD I've got comes close to tying them, however. It its own Eastman interview, which is pretty fun; and a 12 minute D'Amato featurette, including a brief on-set interview where he's working on a film called The Monk. And since Beat Records is also a record label, there's a feature called "Best Of," which is a collection of music tracks from D'Amato soundtracks. Those are the main things, though there's also a useless photo gallery which just consists of stills from the film, but framed in a small, distorted "TV screen" image making the whole endeavor completely pointless, a text-only filmography and trivia, and the trailer. Oh, and it has a nice double insert with some cool poster images.
42nd St. Memories
And 88? Well, I think this is another one of the reasons they've gotten flack for the 2015 disc. There are practically no extras directly pertaining to the film at hand. There is, however, one big extra, which is pretty cool... it's just very indirectly related to Anthropophagus. It's called 42nd Street: The Rise and Fall of America's Most Notorious Block. They don't even mention Anthropophagus as one of the countless films that potentially played on 42nd St, so there's really no direct connection at all. It's not a topic I was particularly keen on, and it doesn't connect to the film you just bought, but it is a feature length film and they interview a heck of a lot of interesting people, including: William Lustig, Joe Dante, Lloyd Kaufman, Roy Frumkes, Frank Henenlotter. Lynn Lowry, Larry Cohen and a bunch more. I would've preferred to hear these guys talk about their films than the street, but it's still worth the watch. Besides that, there's just a couple trailers (including a bonus trailer for Zombie Holocaust, which is unskippable at start-up), an alternate set of opening credits in Italian, four neat little postcards with different poster art, some cool reversible art, and a sweet slipcover.
old content left; new content right.
So what does the Special Edition add to the proceedings?  Well, first and foremost is a brand new interview with George Eastman.  And I have to admit, after Beyond the Darkness and Absurd sharing the same George Eastman (and Michelle Soavi) interview across both discs, I was worried we'd be getting the same thing a third time.  But happily, no, this is an all new interview... or partially new, anyway.  The interview for Absurd was just under 15 minutes long, and this new one is over half an hour long, of two different interviews (he's shot from different angles and wearing different shirts, so it's obvious) intercut together.  One of those two is new, and the other is the old one, and the editing jumps back and forth between the two.  So basically, we get an all new one inter-spliced with with older content, though the older interview is the only one where he talks about Anthropophagus (as opposed to D'Amato, Laura Gemser and other films), so you can see why they incorporated it.
the deleted scene
Next up is an interview with film historian Alessio di Rocco.  A drier, academic look at Anthropophagus?  No, this is actually a very short (three minutes) set-up of the next extra they have on here, a "never before seen deleted scene."  So Alessi sets up why it was shot and why it's not in the final film, and then the scene itself is quick but pretty cool.  It's not in the same quality as the rest of the film (it's the shot above), but also in 1.66, Italian with optional English subtitles.  Then you get the alternate Italian opening and closing credits and a collection of trailers showcasing this film's multiple titles.  This 2017 version also has reversible artwork and a very nice, felt-like slipcover.
So, the new blu is a real improvement on the old one in pretty much every department.  Some of us were definitely questioning why 88 chose to remaster a title they'd just recently released as opposed to one of so many titles still needing a release, but the results speak for themselves.  This was more than worthwhile.  If you don't already own this film, this is no question the version to get; though of course, it depends on how much of a fan you are of this film, will determine if you think it's worth double-dipping.  Plus, you may want to hang onto the 2015 for the collectible status (limited edition slipcover, cards, etc) and even more so for the 42nd St. doc, which to be clear is not on the 2017 release. ...You can also find it on the Grindhouse blu-ray release of Pieces, though.  But 88 has really done a first class job here; I'm really pleased to have contributed to the campaign seeing these results.

6 comments:

  1. Could you please let us know if these discs are region free in your reviews???? Thanks!

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    1. Yeah, region coding is such a pain, I usually try not to even think about it. haha Region free and no looking back. But since you asked on this post, I can tell you 88's Anthropophagus blu is region B.

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    2. You should add a "handy little guide to getting yourself a region-free blu ray player" section to this site.

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    3. Ha! That's actually a good idea. I think I will add something like that...

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  2. The new blu is region free. The first blu was B.

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  3. Thanks for the great arm pit shot of 42nd street Pete.

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