Absurd (1981) is prolific Italian director Joe D’Amato’s (real name Aristide Massaccesi) ‘sequel’ to his earlier horror outing Anthropophagous The Beast, and I use the term sequel loosely since the only real connection between the two films is that they both starred actor/writer George Eastman (Luigi Montefiori) playing the part of a crazed killer, although unlike it’s predecessor his character here has no penchant for the occasional spot of cannibalism along with his murder and mayhem.
Eastman plays Mikos Stenopolis, a Greek guy who is on the run in a small American town after escaping from a medical institution, sanctioned by the church, that had been experimenting on him with some kind of drug that regenerates dead cells. A Greek priest played by Edmund Purdom (Pieces, Don’t Open ‘Till Christmas) is hot on his heels and the opening scene sees Mikos impaling his stomach on some railings as he tries to evade capture, arriving at a house with his intestines spilling out (reminicent of his disembowelment in the finale of Anthropophagous!). He is taken to hospital where doctors are baffled by his bodies ability to heal itself. After a gory operation scene he revives himself and attacks a nurse, thrusting an electric drill through her bonce (think City of the Living Dead!). Here we learn from the priest who has arrived at the hospital and being questioned by a hard-nosed cop Sgt. Ben Engleman (played by Charles Borromel), that Mikos is almost immortal and he can only be killed zombie style by ‘destroying his cerebral mass’!
Mikos flees from the hospital with the cops in persuit (there only seem to be two cops in the entire police station!), finding himself in what appears to be an abattoir, or maybe a machine shop. He disturbs a bald guy sweeping the floor and attempts to decapitate him with a meat cleaver but misses and the man promply pulls a gun, firing off several rounds into Mikos’ chest to no avail. The poor chap pays for this as he is pinned down onto a band saw and ends up having his bald head sliced in two like an orange! Fans may recognise this guy as Goffredo Unger who appeared as the Mall security guard in Cannibal Apocalypse (1980), as well as bit parts in many other Italian horror flicks and crime thrillers.
While strangling his next victim, a young motorcyclist played by Stage Fright director Michele Soavi, Mikos is hit by a passing motorist. The driver Mr. Bennett (Ian Danby) thinks he’s killed an innocent man, but drives home without stopping as he seems more concerned about hurrying home to pick up his wife (Hanja Kochansky) and to get to a friend’s house to watch a football game on television. They leave their two children, a young boy called Willy (Kasimir Berger) and older sister Katia (Katya Berger) at home with the babysitter Emily played by Annie Belle (House on the Edge of the Park, The Cross of Seven Jewels). Katia seems to be suffering from some sort of spinal injury and is bedridden, held down with wrist straps and in a neck brace to presumably stop her from moving and causing further injury, however the strange contraption looks more like a torture device!
Unknown to the Bennett children and Emily, the insane Mikos is heading towards the house dispatching on the way a family friend Peggy (Italian ‘Playboy’ pin-up Cindy Leadbetter who also starred in Luigi Cozzi’s 1978 mad sci-fi Starcrash), impaling her through the head with a pick-axe! Willy alerts the others by announcing that ‘the bogeyman’ is coming and they barricade themselves into Katia’s bedroom. Emily decides to venture out for help, a bit of a silly move, since Mikos is waiting, and she is shoved head first into a lit gas oven! This is a long drawn out torturous scene as we witness her flesh start to melt and hair burn as she struggles to escape. In fact she does, and attempts to stab Mikos in the neck with a pair of scissors, however she is no match for this madman and ends up having them rammed into her own throat! Meanwhile Willy makes a dash for freedom and Katia somehow manages to release herself from her bizarre bed restraints, appearing quite resilient for someone with a supposed back injury! The final scenes have a certain amount of tension as the game of cat and mouse with the seemingly indestructible killer unfolds.
Absurd is a reasonably well made shockfest with some nice gory set pieces courtesy of Giuseppe Ferranti and Pietro Tenoglio. The frenetic synthesized soundtrack by Carlo Maria Cordio is superb, never letting up and really adds to the tension throughout, however the film is slightly let down by it’s slow pacing midway, especially in the long scenes inside the house when nothing particularly exciting is going on. There are endless shots of American football being shown on the television, and in one scene the family are watching a clip from one of D’Amato’s own porn films with Mark Shannon (although not a sex scene!). In fact Absurd has no sex or nudity in it whatsoever and seems quite tame by todays standards of horror movie making. It’s obvious D’Amato was trying to market this film to an American audience, directed under one of his many psuedonyms Peter Newton and with the predominantly Italian cast all having anglicised names on the title credits also. Although shot in Italy the film is set in America, and has a noticible similarity to John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978).The movie has had more titles than you can shake your intestines at, it was released in the US on home video as The Monster Hunter and in Asian territories it was known as Zombie 6 in true confusing Italian style. Literal translation of the Italian title Rosso Sangue is Blood Red, quite befitting for the amount of the red stuff on display!
Absurd was released in the UK uncut on VHS by Medusa Home Video, and was subsequently banned after being successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act in 1984. There is still no sign of it having a digital re-release here in Britain, which is probably more down to film rights related issues rather than it’s content. I’m sure if someone were to submit it uncut these days it wouldn’t have any problems with censorship. MYA Communications label released it Stateside uncut on DVD under yet another name, the French title Horrible and to my knowledge is the only DVD version available featuring the English audio soundtrack at the time of writing.