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Sunday, September 23, 2018

ABSURD (aka "Rosso sangue") -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle




Italian director Joe D'Amato's work ran the gamut from steamy sexploitation (THE ALCOVE with Laura Gemser) to graphic gorefests (ANTHROPOPHAGOUS, BEYOND DARKNESS and EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS, the latter also with Gemser).  But while his 1981 horror thriller ABSURD (aka "Rosso sangue") features an ample number of gory sequences, it has as much in common with John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN as with the usual wall-to-wall splatterfest.

The story begins with a family being menaced by an escaped madman (Luigi Montefiori, aka "George Eastman") who, as a result of a scientific experiment, is now both maniacally homicidal and practically indestructible.  Somehow making it from Greece to the U.S. with a priest (Edmund Perdom) hot on his trail, he suffers a serious injury and ends up killing a nurse before fleeing the hospital. 

"Absurd" is definitely the word when rumpled police detective Sgt. Engleman (Charles Borromel) finds out that he can't get anyone to help him look for the rampaging killer on the loose because there's a big football game on TV. Thus, in his words, the only people available to join the hunt are "a priest, a cop on the verge of retirement, and a rookie." He then gives the priest, whom he has just met, an unmarked patrol car and a gun.


The aforementioned family includes a mom and dad with a young son, Willy Bennett (Kasimir Berger) and a teenaged daughter, Katia (Katya Berger), who is confined to bed in some kind of highly-restrictive spinal traction.  When the 'rents run off to watch the football game at a friend's house, the kids are left alone with babysitter Emily (Annie Belle) until you-know-who shows up to turn ABSURD down the same alley where HALLOWEEN took us some years before.

The killer is even named Mikos after Michael Myers, but aside from that he has no distinguishing characteristics (mask, razor glove, personalized killing weapon) and is just a big, glowering crazy guy who's driven to homicide in a big way.  The priest character is similar to HALLOWEEN's Dr. Loomis, although once Mikos makes his way to the Bennett house the priest and cops pretty much disappear until the end of the movie.

Till then, D'Amato alternates the film's slower scenes with a nicely-wrought suspense that builds to some genuine thriller-level moments.  Again, the "babysitter protecting the kids from the madman" stuff is reminiscent of HALLOWEEN--some of the music even sounds as though John Carpenter might've written it--and when things get going nice and proper the tension is well maintained.


As for the more splattery moments, D'Amato doesn't let the gorehounds in his audience down.  While not quite Tom Savini quality, the effects are adequately effective when a nurse gets a power drill through the skull, a hapless janitor has his noggin pushed through an electric saw, and a nanny has her head fricaseed in a blazing oven. 

Various other blood 'n' guts moments pop up here and there as well, but not enough to qualify the film as a non-stop gorepalooza. (Still, ABSURD was one of the original 74 video nasties banned in 1984.)

The adult actors range from passable to good (prolific actor Purdom is a venerable presence), and the two kids deliver as well.  Much of the early action centers around Kasimir Berger as Willy, who's up to the challenge with his energetic performance.  Later, his real-life sister Katya comes through when the story hinges on her character's ability to tear off her restraints and struggle out of her sick bed. 


The 2-disc Blu-ray from Severin Films contains the film in two versions: the 94-minute English cut and the 88-minute Italian cut with English subtitles.  The amount of gore seemed about the same in both to me, so I couldn't really discern the differences between the two.  Both are 2K scans from the original negatives.

Bonuses include a new interview with Luigi Montefiori ("Mikos"), an archive interview with Joe D'Amato himself, an interview with filmmaker/extra Michele Soavi, and a trailer.  Disc two is a CD containing the film's score by composer Carlo Maria Cordio (first 2500 copies only).  The cover insert itself is reversible.

Although you won't mistake it for a Hitchcock flick, ABSURD has its share of chills and suspense along with the more giddily gruesome stuff.  It's D'Amato wielding his filmmaking abilities in fine form and entertaining us horror fans right up until the wickedly delightful fadeout. 


Special Features:Rosso Sangue: Alternate Italian cut (with optional English subtitles)
The Return of the Grim Reaper: Interview With Actor / Writer / Co-Producer Luigi Montefiore (George Eastman)
D’Amato on Video: Archive Interview With Director Aristide Massaccesi
A Biker (Uncredited): Interview With Michele Soavi
Trailer
First 2500 copies includes Bonus CD Soundtrack
Reversible Wrap

Available Sept. 25, 2018

Buy it at Severin Films





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