Adam Chaplin: Violent Avenger (2011) d. De Santi, Emanuele (Italy)
Remember when the Italians were the masters of splatter? The ’80s heyday of Fulci, Argento, Lenzi and Deodato is long behind us, but there’s a new fellow in town named Emanuele De Santi who invites happy comparisons to these past masters of the red sauce. One catches a glimpse of the man’s work ethic in his chiseled abs and bulging biceps (he stars as well as writing and directing), but this is clearly no empty-headed Chippendale dancer. Santi unloads a double helping of stylish gore and gory style in his debut feature, a jaw-dropping (and jaw shattering) extravaganza that evokes an especially bloodsoaked manga, complete with stark, panel-ready imagery.
Through a deliciously nonlinear narrative, we learn the story of our titular protagonist: After merciless masked gangster Denny (Christian Riva) makes a gruesome example of Adam’s cash-strapped bride (Valeria Sannino), our hulking flaxen-haired hero invokes a croaking demon that takes up residence behind his right shoulder. The portal takes the shape of an inverted cross and has the messy habit of oozing copious amounts of hemoglobin whenever Adam gets riled...which is often. Tearing a bloody path through petty criminals, cops and goons alike, the demigod careens ever closer to his misshapen quarry, shattering flesh and bone on a grand scale.
It goes without saying that the flashy splatter moments (visual effects supervisor Giulio De Santi engaging practical effects sweetened by newfangled CGI technology that actually – believe it or not – resembles blood) are the highlights, and anyone who’s already seen the ultraviolent trailer has had a taste of the sanguinary goodness in store.
The violence reaches outlandish heights, with Adam’s fists cracking villains’ skulls in twain, limbs wrenched from their sockets, and cleavers used with lethal precision, cartoonish enough to evoke cheers but messy enough to tickle viewers’ gag reflexes.
It’s a gorehound’s (very) wet dream, the likes of which we haven’t seen in ages, and that gives us reason to rejoice. It might be too early to announce a new Italian Renaissance, but Santi at least represents a glimmer on the horizon.
Adam Chaplin: Violent Avenger is available for pre-order from Autonomy Pictures with a street date of October 8. You won't want to miss it.
--Aaron Christensen, HorrorHound Magazine