After the horrific immolation of his wife at the hands of disfigured mob boss Denny (Chiara Marfella), Adam Chaplin (Emanuele De Santi) calls upon the dark to assist in his quest for vengeance. With the aid of a demonic cherub that spawns from his back, and the superhuman strength it grants, nothing will stand in the way of his revenge.
Originally, I was going to talk about the state of slow decline and then immediate death of Italian horror cinema over the past thirty years. Yet with Adam Chaplin all that bittersweet history doesn't really matter because despite being of Italian origin, it bears little resemblance to the country's previous horror output. It's something more akin to the hyper-gory anime Fist of the North Star occurring in the world of Hobo with a Shotgun in Italian language.
Aside from fountains of grue, Chaplin's most impressive aspect is how director De Santi, who filled most of the production's roles, conceals the budget with technology unavailable at this level of filmmaking a relatively short time ago. Much digital image manipulation was employed to hide the smallness of sets while minimal CG acts as enhancement to the practical effects without replacing the abundance of gore. In contrast, fellow Italian Massimiliano Cerchi relied so much on terrible graphics with his Flight to Hell (2003) that it might be the worst horror film to ever come from the country.
The screenplay, also by De Santi, wisely chooses to give background to the characters of Adam and Denny. This adds weight to their feud; however, there's still many questions, like Denny's own dark pact, and the film's post-apocalyptic world remaining unexplored. Adam's demonic companion, an imp insidiously driving his bloodlust, is a great touch that's again short on any answers. Though this lack of explanation isn't crippling since everything plays like the pages of a pissed off indie comic book.
The gore effects are the biggest attraction as Adam's flesh-shredding strength leaves faces brutally dismantled and limbs ripped asunder. An apparently new blood polymer was created for the film with much more "sling" on impact, so splat blooms look less watery while never approaching reality. If you're a gorehound, you'll love this mayhem, but the parallels to the gory battles in Fist of North Star border on theft. Many of the action shots are lifted wholesale from the anime series. This wasn't by chance as short clips from the anime are seen in the DVD's supplements.
So Adam Chaplin isn't some grand return of Italian horror. It's just a lot of fun that's more interested in the ride than specifics. The self-billing as "goriest movie ever" is debatable though. I'd still consider Peter Jackson's Braindead (Dead Alive) (1992) as the pinnacle of gory wizardry. The attention to character development pushes this one among the best splatter flicks I've seen along with The Story of Ricky (1991) and Plaga Zombie: Mutant Zone (2001). The clearly passionate De Santi might impress further with a more ample budget and it'll be interesting to see if he works with production company Necrostorm again.