It is the mutant cannibalism that is the thematic connection between the 42 year apart franchise entries. This is the only link the screenwriter put in the narrative, though it is questionable whether he even conceived the film as a continuation of D’Amato’s gut muncher. Most motion pictures only become knock-off sequels after their completion, and the distributors make the decision. Even the nuclear shelter setting keeps reminding viewers that this could have easily been a Hills Have Eyes knock-off, as that movie series also has a parade of mutated baby-eaters.
But can this bastard 21st-century version chew its babies as well as its granddaddy? Of course not. The original is one of the greatest spaghetti nightmares of all time. But no one ever expects a knock-off sequel to be anywhere near as good as the film it is piggybacking. So with these lowered expectations, there is much to celebrate about Anthropophagus II. First off, like D’Amato, Germani has done a lot of work as a cinematographer, and it shows. The tunnel motif he uses as the central visual architecture is brilliant. It feels claustrophobic and neverending, like the visuals achieved in the classic Giant of Metropolis. The lighting choices are also vibrant and gloriously excessive in places, as is traditional in Italian horror.
“…gloriously excessive in places…”
Another tradition observed is the abject grittiness of the industrial settings. It is a mosaic of decrepitation. Add to this the buckets of gore and a rocking synth soundtrack, and you got yourself something easily identifiable as horror, Italian style. De Luca’s script is minimalist to the point of borderline generic, but that is perfectly acceptable for the genre. Yes, all the girls are barely distinguished from each other and are just there for the body count. They do put up a pretty good fight, though.
However, one does wish the beginning, which I assume is a flashback, and the ending, which I guess is a flash forward, were defined more clearly as such. Even saying what you will about those scenes, there’s no denying Anthropophagus II begins and ends with a bang. These bookends make up the strong focaccia bread for an otherwise messy meatball sandwich that still tastes pretty good.
"…a good knock-off sequel will re-deliver the core appeal of the original picture."