A priest is experimenting on a large wily man and gives him the ability to regenerate damaged cells. I know, right? Absurd is basically Joe D’Amato’s take on “Halloween”. Though, “Absurd” is much more mean spirited, and littered with nasty practical gore effects. This film made it’s carved it’s path to the infamous video nasties list by sheer brutality.
There’s no real narrative to follow. It sort of exists, but it serves less as a road-map to get from beginning to end, and more to string as many visceral violent encounters as possible. D’Amato, famous for blending trash cinema with both soft, and hardcore porn, takes a concept from American slasher films, and tries to explain it with science. In many American slasher films, including Halloween, and Friday the 13th, the killer seems almost supernatural, lacking the ability to die. In “Absurd”, this is the case, but to put a rhyme to the reason, a scenario is created in which our killer has been experimented on, giving him the ability to regenerate damaged cells. This means, any wound that he receives, will have been completely healed within seconds. This is of course, excluding the brain. If his brain is damaged, it’s curtains for our voiceless killer.
The film’s biggest problem lies within the absurdity of the killer’s ability, and the way that the writer explains the situation. If you’re going to outline a set of rules for your movie to obey, it’s best to adhere to them. Or, if you’re going to break them, do so in a way that’s important to the progression of your story, or at least the character. If you tell your viewers that, any wound the killer receives will be regenerated within seconds, except for injuries to the brain, then stick to that. The eyes, though powered greatly by the brain, are not actually part of the brain. Yeah, maybe in the grand scheme of things, they’re the window to the soul, and yatta yatta yatta, but within the confines of this logic, if the killer takes an injury to his eyes, they should be regenerated within seconds right? In not adhering to this rule, a long, nonsensical final act makes this film a task to finish.
I like the idea of explaining away the supernatural elements that plagued the genre in it’s infancy, and quite honestly all throughout it’s reign, but I wish it would have been handled properly. Still though, you have to give points for trying. Some like the fact that the more prolific cinematic murderers are left to mystery. How is it, after all of the stabbings, gunshots, blunt trauma, etc, does Michael Myers just keep coming? Perhaps the same experimentation was done on him? If you were to ask the director of any cult classic slasher at this point in time, they’ll all most likely tell you that they wanted their killer to remain a mystery. In reality, it’s simply lack of budget, lack of creativity, or just plain lazy writing. In many cases, this panned out, and a mystery loomed over the characters. In others, it helped turned the beloved sub-genre into an unlimited supply of material to parody.
The only thing that makes this film stand out is it’s diverse killing styles. Many weapons, and other household items are utilized as a tool of destruction. Scissors, a pick ax, guns, knives, blunt objects, there are a plethora of varying kills to excite the viewer, and it’s all done with glorious practical make-up effects and fake blood. It has that thick paint look to it that much of the early 80s gore films do. It resembles “Dawn of the Dead” in a lot of ways, the blood that is. There may not be any sort of reasoning behind the murders, but they sure are pleasing to the eyes.
Unlike my last Video Nasties article, I have no fond childhood memories of “Absurd”. It didn’t effect me in any way, or sharpen my interest in the genre. I have no personal connection to the film what soever. I knew I had seen it in the mid nineties, but I really didn’t remember anything about it, other than the fact that it was a Joe D’Amato flick. I have no emotional attachment, nor do I have any philosophical insights as to why it wound up on the nasty list. My guess would be because of it’s unapologetic body-count, and the mean-spirited, visceral nature of the kills. It’s a gritty little film, but it’s nothing worth seeking out if it’s not already part of your collection.