DNDF: Ancient Ruins

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Friday, April 25, 2014

DNDF: Ancient Ruins

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Ancient and Ruins.  Ancient, do you take Ruins as your noun; to love, honor and cherish for as long as this article runs?  Ruins, do you take Ancient as your adjective; to love, honor and cherish for as long as I can milk this introduction?  Then by the power invested in me by The Divine Search Engine™ I pronounce you completed phrase.  You may now…

S P I N   T H E   W H E E L!

Anthropophagus (adjective; feeding on human flesh), released in the United Kingdom as Anthropophagous: The Beast and in the United States as Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper (also known as Zombie 7: Grim Reaper), is a 1980 Italian horror film directed by Joe D'Amato and co-written by D'Amato and George Eastman, who also starred in the film.  Anthropophagous: The Beast was released in the United Kingdom in 1980 uncut by VFP.  It soon became one of the infamous titles to feature on the government's Department of Public Prosecutions list (DPP), better known to the tabloid press as the "Video Nasty" list.  It was later successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act in 1984.

Anthropophagus (1980)

  • Alternative Titles:
    • Man Beast 
    • The Savage Island
  • Genre: Horror 
  • Directed: Joe D'Amato
  • Produced:
    • Joe D'Amato 
    • George Eastman 
    • Edward L. Montoro 
    • Oscar Santaniello
  • Written:
    • Joe D'Amato 
    • George Eastman
  • Starring: Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Margaret Mazzantini, Mark Bodin, Bob Larson, Rubina Rey, Simone Baker, Mark Logan, George Eastman, Zora Kerova
  • Music: Marcello Giombini
  • Cinematography: Enrico Biribicchi
  • Editing: Ornella Micheli
  • Studio:
    • Filmirage 
    • Produzioni Cinematografiche Massaccesi
  • Distributed:
    • Cinedaf  
    • Film Ventures International  
    • Monterey Home Video  
    • Fries Entertainment
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date:
    • 9 August 1980 (Italy) 
    • 9 October 1981 (US)
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: Italy
  • Language:
    • Italian 
    • German

A pair of Germans visiting a remote Greek island go to the beach, and are slaughtered by someone who emerges from the ocean.  On the mainland, five travelers are preparing to tour the islands, and are joined by Julie, who asks for a ride to an island that some friends of hers live on.  The only one who objects to this detour to the island (which Julie explains has only a few permanent residents, and only sees tourists a few months out of the year) is Carol, whose tarot cards convince her that something bad will happen if they go to the island.  The group sails to the island anyway, and while disembarking the pregnant Maggie hurts her ankle, so she stays behind on the boat with its owner.  A man attacks the boat, ripping the sailor's head off, and abducting Maggie.

The others explore the island's town, discovering it in disarray, and abandoned with the exception of an elusive woman in black, who writes "Go Away" on a dusty window.  In a house, a rotting corpse which appears to have been cannibalized is uncovered, prompting everyone to rush back to the boat, which is adrift.  With no other options, the group goes to the house owned by Julie's friends, where they find the family's blind daughter, Henriette.  After wounding Daniel in a panic, Henriette is calmed down, and rants about there being a madman who smells of blood prowling the island.

To stop Daniel's wound from becoming infected, Andy and Arnold go into the town to search for antibiotics.  Carol walks in on Daniel flirting with Julie, and goes into hysterics, running off into the night.  Julie goes after Carol, but loses her, and meets up with Andy and Arnold.  Back at the house, the disfigured killer breaks in and rips Daniel's throat out, but leaves Henriette alone and flees as the others return.  In the morning, everyone treks through the island, and find a mansion belonging to Nikos Karamanlis.  Julie mentions that she read that Nikos, his wife, and their child are assumed dead, having been shipwrecked, a tragedy which caused Nikos's sister Irina to become unhinged.  Irina (the woman in black from earlier) watches the group enter the building, comforts the sleeping Carol, and hangs herself.

After waking Carol, Andy and Arnold look out a window, and see that the boat has drifted close to shore.  The two men go to secure the vessel, and Julie finds a partially destroyed journal among the objects in the mansion, and it reveals that the killer is Irina's brother, Nikos, and that the bodies of all of Nikos's victims are in a hidden room.  Andy and Arnold split up, and the latter reaches an abandoned church, where he finds Maggie, and is confronted by Nikos.  Nikos has a flashback that reveals he and his family were stranded in a raft after being shipwrecked, and that Nikos accidentally stabbed his wife while trying to convince her that they should eat the body of their dead son to survive.  Nikos then ate his wife and son's corpses, driving him insane.

Nikos regains his composure, stabs Arnold, and rips out and eats Maggie's unborn child.  At the mansion, Julie uncovers the room where Nikos's victims are, and skims another diary she finds in it.  Carol stumbles into the chamber, and drops dead from a slit throat.  Nikos then attacks Julie, who locks herself and Henriette in the attic after a short chase.  Nikos breaks through the ceiling and kills Rita, and is then knocked off the roof and into a well by Julie.  Nikos attacks Julie when she peers down the well, but she is saved when Andy appears and stabs Nikos in the stomach with a pickaxe, causing the cannibal's intestines to spill out.  As a last dying act, Nikos gnaws on his own innards.

Anthropophagus (1980)

Bloodtide (1982)

  • Original Title: Blood Tide
  • Genre: Horror 
  • Directed: Richard Jefferies
  • Produced:
    • Luigi Cingolani 
    • Donald Langdon 
    • Nico Mastorakis 
    • John D. Schofield 
    • Brian Trenchard-Smith
  • Written:
    • Richard Jefferies 
    • Nico Mastorakis
  • Starring: James Earl Jones, José Ferrer, Lila Kedrova, Mary Louise Weller, Martin Kove, Lydia Cornell, Deborah Shelton, Sofia Seirli, Despina Tomazani, Rania Photiou, Spyros Papafrantzis, Irini Tripkou, Annabel Schofield
  • Music: Jerry Mosely
  • Cinematography: Aris Stavrou
  • Editing:
    • Michael Bloecher 
    • Alberto Valenzuela
  • Studio:
    • Connaught International 
    • Athon
  • Distributed:
    • 21st Century Film Corporation  
    • Cinema Group Home Video 
    • Continental Video 
    • Direct Source  
    • Planet Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: September 1982 (US)
  • Running Time: 82 minutes
  • Country:
    • United Kingdom 
    • Greece
  • Language: English

Originally released in 1982 and also known by the names Demon Island and Bloodtide, Blood Tide has some heavy casting, with both James Earl Jones and the venerable Jose Ferrer contributing performances to what amounts to a relatively bloodless and not too scary contribution to underwater horror.  Blood Tide is one of those films with some really good ideas but lackluster execution.

Writers Richard Jefferies (his debut film) and Nico Mastorakis (a Greek filmmaker and radio producer) tap into elements of Lovecraft, exploring the nature of how myth evolves from humanity’s most primitive fears, which are often based on the truth.  However, Jefferies as a director instead elects to focus on the lackluster, working the script much too slowly and delving into melodrama and long sequences that add up to little.  As a result, Blood Tide is difficult to sit through, but once experienced, the concepts are strong enough to leave most viewers satisfied.

The story centers on recently married couple Neil (Martin Kove, best known for his turn as the Cobra Kai karate instructor in the Karate Kid franchise) and Sherry Grice, who rent a yacht and travel to Greece as both a honeymoon and to search for Neil’s sister, Madeline.  The couple meets with some suspicious villagers, including the mayor, all of whom say that they have never seen Madeline and that perhaps the couple should search elsewhere.

However, it turns out the Madeline is on the island.  An artist, Madeline has found sanctuary in a monastery of nuns.  Inside, she has been working on an obscure painting, which she has discovered consists of several layers, each older than the previous.  These layers show a de-evolution from Christianity to Greek myth to perhaps something that is much, much older.

That something turns out to be a hideous creature that during ancient times was placated by sacrificing young virgins to it.  This creature apparently served to inspire various myths throughout the centuries, going so far as even serving as King George’s dragon.  Entombed for centuries in an underwater sepulcher, the creature has itself become a myth, although local children continue to reenact the ritual of sacrifice as a form of play.

Unfortunately, a local treasure hunter Frye discovers the underwater tomb.  With the help of explosives (while looking for more gold), Frye sets the creature free.  When the creature kills Frye’s love, Frye (who often recites lines from Othello) vows to destroy the monster once and for all.  But he cannot do it alone.

Blood Tide (1982)

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