I’ve recently been reading the book Satanic Panic: Pop Culture Paranoia in the 1980’s and reminded of my own misspent youth. In sixth grade, a teacher knew that I was religious and thought I could warn my fellow classmates about the dangers of evil music and movies. He gave me a mimeographed sheet of heavy metal (and non-metal) bands to study and by the time I got to Black Sabbath, my soul was sold to rock and roll.
By eleventh grade, I was squarely in the devil’s camp in the eyes of my teachers. My love for bands like King Diamond and Danzig, along with my predilection for drawing Leatherface in class, marked me as a subject of interest. Obviously, I was doing drugs and black mass rituals — I could easily discuss Dungeons & Dragons, too. I was to be more feared the dead-eyed athletes who would soon realize their lives were peaking at 17 while mine hadn’t even started yet.
It’s to those times in my youth, when I wanted to escape my hometown and sat in my room blaring Samhain’s “November Coming Fire” and reading Fangoria, that this movie perfectly fits in. It is disgusting. It is unrepentant. It has no moral or social value. It is filled with the kind of gore than makes churches throw VHS tapes into a blazing bonfire. In short, it is everything amazing and wonderful and metal about horror movies.
The movie starts with two Germans exploring a beautiful Greek beach. Someone emerges from the ocean and murders them. Meanwhile, five travellers are joined by Julie (Tisa Farrow, who some may know as the sister of Mia, but we all know her as Anne from Zombi 2), who asks for a ride to the island. However, Carol (Zora Kerova, Cannibal Ferox, The New York Ripper) uses her tarot cards to learn that something bad will happen. No one listens to her.
The pregnant Maggie (Serena Grandi from Delirium) stays behind on the boat and is abducted by the killer, who quickly beheads a sailor.
The island is in ruins and completely abandoned, except for a woman in black, who writes go away in the dust. Upon finding a rotting corpse that has been eaten, everyone runs back to the boat, which is floating unmanned, then goes to the house of Julie’s friends. There, only the family’s blind daughter Henriette has survived.
The young girl panics and attacks Daniel, but when she is calmed, she tells everyone of the maniac that is stalking the island. Daniel is wounded and needs medicine, so Andy and Arnold head to town. Meanwhile, Daniel flirts with Julie, which causes Carol to run into town and Julie to follow her. While all this drama is going on, the killer rips out Danel’s throat.
Everyone travels to a mansion that belonged to Klaus Wortman, who died along with his wife and child in a shipwreck. This caused his sister, the woman in black, to lose her mind. And to hammer that point home, we soon see her hang herself.
Everything seems like its going to get better when a boat rifts to shore. On board, Julie finds Klaus’ journal. It turns out that he is alive…and the killer! Soon, Maggie is confronted by him and we learn that it’s George Eastman, who is in so many awesome Italian movies, such as Baba Yaga, 2019: After the Fall of New York, The New Barbarians, Blastfighter, Rabid Dogs, Hands of Steel, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, oh man! So many amazing films! This is his star-making role though and he really goes for it. He has a flashback where we learn how he accidentally stabbed his wife while trying to convince her that they should eat their dead son to survive. After eating his family, he went insane. Soon, Kalus breaks out of his flashback reverie, stabs Arnold and rips out and eats the unborn baby inside Maggie’s belly. Holy fucking shit, this movie!
I wish that those those teachers who thought I was a Satanic terror in 1988 could see me now, jumping up and down with glee at 2:44 AM on a school night screaming “GEORGE EASTMAN!” while drinking a beer and holding a small dog.
What follows can’t really top that, but fuck it if Eastman isn’t going to try, including eating his own intestines after Andy hits him the stomach with a pickaxe! That’s commitment to your role!
The American version of this film, The Grim Reaper, has 35 cuts in an attempt to get an R rating. That’s correct – nine minutes are missing, including the baby being devoured and the killer eating himself. It just ends when he is stabbed in the stomach. It also replaces the electronic Italian score with the music from Kingdom of the Spiders.
Director Joe D’amoto and George Eastman would return in a spiritual sequel called Absurd. You better believe we’ll be getting to that one soon. This is a rough film, but isn’t that why you’re this far down in the review, reading this? You know it. And you can check it out in sadly edited form on Amazon Video. If you want the real deal, you probably know how to find movies on iOffer, right?
EDIT: You can forget the end of the paragraph above and just grab the insanely awesome Severin Video rerelease and stop bothering with edited crappy looking versions of this movie.