Cannibal Apocalypse (Apocalypse domaini) (1980)

In the jungle, or in the city, still they must EAT!
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Cannibal Apocalypse - In the jungle, or in the the city, still they must EAT!

Cannibal Apocalypse (Apocalypse domaini) is a creative cannibal addition to the DPP Video Nasty list that manages to shock without the need for jungle tribes, national geographic nakedness or cruelty to animals. What it delivers is a nice storyline about Vietnam veterans inflicted with a taste for flesh and although there is not much apocalyptical about the plot, Italian horror director Antonio Margheriti ably brings his cannibalistic threat to the city streets and creates a flesh devouring, bite transmitted pre-epidemic without the need for any zombies. The main cast, including horror icon John Saxon, is relatively small and the cannibal-flu is far from pandemic proportions but the insatiably infected still manage to cause some serious ball-aches for the politically incorrect yet stereotypically amusing hard-ass detective fellow. The inspired story meander is that there are no heroes, part way through we soon witness our potential hero giving in to his culinary urges and teaming up with the other hungry hungry humans to cause some Michelin star mayhem.

Whilst in Vietnam, Tommy and Charlie are captured and starved of food apart from Vietnamese (and we all know all that too much fish sauce and noodles can wreak havoc on an individual's mental state). Norman Hopper (John Saxon) to the rescue but unfortunately the captives are craving a bit of dietary diversity and bite him during his valiant rescue attempt.

Flash-forward an undisclosed period of time and Norman awakes from a dream about Charlie who, along with Tommy, has been institutionalised for crimes that they want to commit. Crimes which involve biting people and not in the sexy way. As it happens, Charlie has been declared sane and released and he phones Norman suggesting they paint the town in a colour different to blood because that would result in Charlie being re-declared insane and locked up again. Norman declines due to disturbing Vietnam flashbacks, so Charlie goes to the cinema to see if he can bite a young lady. Luckily for Charlie he finds the girl he is looking for and soon finds himself in a hardware store surrounded by police and Hells Angels from Fame.

Norman to the rescue again but he is beginning to totally understand what Charlie and Tommy are going through as he finds himself getting a bit of a craving for flesh himself, especially when it's being served on a platter from his neighbours rebellious daughter. In case the viewers are unable to figure out what is going on the Hopper's doctor (whilst trying to bang Mrs. Hopper) explains that Norman and crew could be infected with a type of rabies giving them the urge to eat humans.

Cannibal Apocalypse seems to be a bit unsure of what it wants to be but the momentum is maintained enough that the movie seamlessly moves from a somewhat dark and disturbing tale of unhinged war veterans to an inverted infection action movie where the infected are the ones trying to survive amongst the hordes of non-cannibalistic enemy. The beauty of Cannibal Apocalypse is that it takes a few traditional horror concepts and turns them on their head, the infected are in the minority, the infected are the focus of the movie and are portrayed as the heroes in a strangely anti-heroic manner and the infected are just normal people with a slight mental unhinging who inspire a certain amount of sympathy even though they are human flesh eating maniacs. The movie also adopts a few traditional horror concepts and leaves them as they are, the ending being a prime example of why people love horror movies.

Not overly gory but enough gore to satisfy the average splatter-head, Cannibal Apocalypse relies on many movie concepts to keep the viewer interested and skilfully manages to merge these concepts into a novel movie without making a disjointed montage of horror clichés seemingly thrown together just to sell based on hype. The story comes first and the nastiness overlays this nicely to make an intriguing movie for all the family!
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