BAD MOVIE MONDAY: ABSURD (1981)

ABSURD is a 1981 Italian slasher movie directed by the legendary Joe D’Amato. It stars George Eastman, Annie Belle, and Edmund Purdom. It was initially written as a sequel to ANTHROPOPHAGUS but, as the legend goes, they rewrote the script when Eastman thought the original was terrible. That’s the “official” narrative, which I personally think is a load of horseshit. My two cents? Slasher movies were pulling in big numbers and the producers, after smelling money the way sharks smell blood, decided to rip off John Carpenter. Literally. There are a bunch of scenes in this film that, while not totally ripped off from Halloween 1 and 2, are close enough that I’m shocked D’Amato wasn’t sued.

Quick Recap! When COVID shut down everything in early 2020, I started an online bad movie night get-together with some friends that we eventually dubbed “Bad Movie Monday”. The premise was simple: We’d torture each other every Monday with the worst trash we could find, tell a few jokes, cheer each other up, and in the process maybe discover some weird obscure cinema that we might never have seen any other way. This series of reviews will feature highlights of those night so you can all share in the fun and maybe get some ideas for your own movie night.

If you’re wondering about the title, it’s meaningless. The film was released under a bunch of different names: Absurd, Horrible, Monster Hunter, Rosso Sangue, Psychose Infernale, Maldición Satánica, Ausgeburt der Hölle, Zombie 6, Terror Sin Límite, even Anthropophagus II.

To be honest, as far as classic era slasher movies go, this is actually not that bad. It’s a bit dry and very much follows many of the tropes of low budget Italian rip offs, but I’ve seen far worse and it may be my favorite Joe D’amato movie. When you’ve seen as many bad movies as I have you start to appreciate simple competence and skill. I wasn’t looking for an award winning horror movie when I saw this and if I had been I certainly wouldn’t have picked a movie like ABSURD, but there’s a certain pleasure to be had in watching something that isn’t trying to reinvent cinema and simply wants to give you your money’s worth.

I think that the only real serious problem is that Eastman, who plays the slasher, needed some kind of mask or gimmick. I mean, he’s dressed so casually that he might as well be wearing his own clothes for all I know. Also, what he looks like is never a mystery. You see his face two minutes into the movie. He’s not weird or deformed looking, he’s not even pale. He looks like he’s dressed to go out to dinner with his wife.

So what’s it about? The film was released in America by Wizard Video under the MONSTER HUNTER title and this is what is written on the back of the box:

Into a seemingly tranquil village comes a priest with a secret mission – to hunt and destroy inhuman beasts and demonic spirits. The priest finds more than he bargained for – a witch who cruelly binds her victims, a sinister fog of doom, mutated creatures bent on revenge. The priest’s monster hunt leads him to the dreaded villa of Dr. Kramer, hidden deep in the shrouded forests where no villager dares to go. And here lurks an unspeakable trap, a web of supernatural terror that crushes the souls of its victims.

Uh… Having seen this movie I will say that almost every single thing written on the Wizard Video box is a complete fucking lie. If it wasn’t for the still images, and the fact that George Eastman, Annie Belle and Edmund Purdom are credited, I would have thought I had the wrong movie. The iMDB synopsis is far more accurate:

A priest-doctor chasing a man with supernatural regenerative abilities, who has recently escaped from a medical lab, reaches a small town where the mutant goes on a killing spree.

That’s a LOT better. It’s a bit short but at least it gives you the basic idea of what you’re in for. Okay, now that we have some vague idea what this movie is about, here are ten things that were going through my head as I watched it:

#1 This is an American movie that takes place in America, starring Americans, speaking real English, in America. Don’t you worry! They didn’t just film this in Italy and then lie about it being America. No Sir!

#2 Why wear a scary mask and outfit when you can just have a seventies porn beard, shirt open to show off your chest hair, and old jeans? That’s scary too.

#3 Do we make the killer’s nemesis a Priest, a Scientist, or a Doctor? WHY NOT ALL THREE???

#4 How do I know this movie’s Italian? Because it features an extremely annoying child actor who screams all his dialogue. Which is why I’m rooting for the killer.

#5 All the Cops are watching “The Game” apparently. That’s why they can’t be bothered to go out searching for a maniac. Sounds about right.

#6 Real Americans drink wine, eat spaghetti and dress up to the nines to watch the Superbowl right? Right???

#7 The musical score sounds like they hired someone because he had a keyboard and told the producers he could record something in under 15 minutes. Looking at the rest of composer Carlo Maria Cordio’s filmography that’s not entirely a joke. That said, I dig the score. It’s definitely got that “Trash Italian Cinema” vibe going for it.

#8 The way this is edited, you can actually tell that everyone except Eastman was hired for like three days and shot all their scenes at once.

#9 Something you’ll all be thinking more than once: “This is just like that scene in Halloween II, only dumber.”

#10 For all the talk of having been completely rewritten, this film segues almost smoothly from Anthropophagus. The only real changes are Eastman’s appearance and backstory, and the addition of a man chasing him. So I doubt the “rewrite” involved more than just changing the title, and then adding Edmund Purdom’s character and some ridiculous “Doctor Loomis” type dialogue.