42nd Street Cinema

Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

Antonio Margheriti's urban horror-come-cannibal film, Cannibal Apocalypse/Apocalypse domani.

Starring: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo Radice (as John Morghen), Cinzia De Carolis and Tony King.

Cannibal Apocalypse is at heart, an amalgamated cash-in on Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) and Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust (1980). Margheriti's film is also an interesting mélange of the Vietnam vet movie, urbanized crime thriller and the traditional horror film. Unfortunately the final product is a little uneven and seems to flit from one plot device to another carelessly.

Cannibal Apocalypse was one of the 39 titles that cropped up on the DPP's (Director of Public Prosecutions) Video Nasty hit list. While it has subsequently released in an uncut version, the film is still cut by 2 seconds in the United Kingdom for scenes which involve a rat being set on fire.

Beginning in similar territory to Apocalypse Now, we see an attack on a Vietnamese camp by American troops, led by one Captain Norman Hopper (Saxon). From this initial sequence, the tone shifts from the Vietnam movie into cannibal country with the introduction of Giovanni Lombardo Radice's character, Charlie Bukowski, who has been imprisoned by the Vietnamese forces. Though it is unclear why, Charlie and his fellow prisoner, Tommy Thompson (King) have become cannibalistic.

The narrative then jumps forward to Atlanta, Georgia where both Bukowski and Thompson are being released from hospital. Shortly after leaving the hospital, Bukowski goes to see a war movie, during which he takes a bite out of a girl's neck who's sitting in front of him. Quickly after the cinema erupts, Bukowski makes it out of the cinema only to get into a confrontation with a group of bikers who chase him into a flea market. This segment of the film is the aforementioned 'urban crime thriller'. To be quite honest with you, this and the end scene in the sewer are my two favourite moments of the movie. The scene is a drawn-out and bloody gunfight, though don't go envisioning anything like the finale to The Big Racket/Il grande racket (1976). Eventually, Hopper arrives on the scene and coerces Bukowski into surrendering, who is subsequently arrested and returned to hospital. It's at this point in the film we learn that, the cannibalism in Cannibal Apocalypse is contagious and thus returning to the horror element.

I wish this concept of contagious cannibalism, while it is wholly similar to what is seen in most zombie films, was further explored, sadly it is quickly brushed under the proverbial rug and forgotten about.
The film culminates with Hopper, Bukowski and Thompson escaping the hospital and going on a rampage through the streets of Atlanta, after being driven into the sewers by police they end up in a gun and flamethrower battle. A scene which, with credit to Margheriti, is handled with considerable vigor and thanks to the makeup effects provided by Giannetto De Rossi, Lombardo Radice's death is impressively gruesome.

Cannibal Apocalypse is sadly a film in which the name precedes the content, if you're looking to see a violent cannibal film, look elsewhere. If you want to complete the nasties list and see a half decent action flick in the process, check this out.


Franco Macabro said...

Looks like it would be worth a watch, sounds similar to that Bob Clark movie about the soldier who comes back from war as a zombie and starts eating his neighbors. I forget the title..

Giovanni Susina said...

I love it when John Morghen's character is madly singing "Yankee Doodle", when he is held up in the flea market surrounded by police.

Silver Ferox Design said...

@The Film Connoisseur - that would be Bob Clark's DEATH DREAM.

I urge you to check out CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, one of my faves for sure.

BTW, I have done a slew of poster designs for this title just last month:

It also has a really great soundtrack by Alessandro Blonksteiner, who scored THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY.

The CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE UK R2 disc has the best av quality and borrows most of the extras from the US DVD...

Unknown said...

Cool review and any film that has both John "THE MAN" Saxon and Giovanni Radice in it is worth anyone's time. Though after awhile of watching these movies, one has to wonder what the Italians had against animals during the 1970s.

Pedro Pereira said...

Despite the comments this is another Antonio Margheriti flick I must watch. Thought no priority.

Didn't know about this blog. Congrats, it seems to be quite alright. Just added you to my blogroll.

Pedro Pereira


James said...

thanks for the kind comments guys!

Online pharmacy reviews said...

I think I see a pattern on here, I got a feeling that you like cannibal bloody movies, am I correct?? and if you do, do not worry, I like this kind of stuff too, but just in movies, not in real life of course!

price per head shop said...

Cannibal Apocalypse could be considered a flawed masterpiece in exploitation. There are a number of memorable moments that elevate this film above other Italian films in the horror genre, and more specifically the cannibal/zombie sub-genres.

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