“It says here the body showed signs of cannibalism. … That’s what it says, Chief!” Exactly what are “signs of cannibalism,” Chief? Join your faithful Grue-Crew – Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, Crystal Cleveland, and Jeff Mohr – as they investigate the “signs” in Antonio Margheriti’s Cannibal Apocalypse (1980), starring John Saxon.
Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 216 – Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)
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Mentally unstable Vietnam vets who were held captive by the Vietcong come back to America after being rescued carrying a dangerous virus that turns people into cannibals when bitten.IMDb
- Director: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony M. Dawson)
- Writers: Antonio Margheriti (screenplay) (as Anthony M. Dawson), Dardano Sacchetti (screenplay & story) (as Jimmy Gould)
- Music: Alexander Blonksteiner
- Special Effects
- Selected Cast:
- John Saxon as Norman Hopper
- Elizabeth Turner as Jane Hopper
- Giovanni Lombardo Radice as Charlie Bukowski (billed as John Morghen)
- Cinzia De Carolis as Mary (billed as Cindy Hamilton)
- Tony King as Tommy Thompson
- Wallace Wilkinson as Captain McCoy
- Ramiro Oliveros as Dr. Phil Mendez (billed as Ray Williams)
- May Heatherly as Nurse Helen
- Renzo Marignano as Dr. Morris
- Venantino Venantini as Lt. Hill
- Jere Beery as Biker Leader
- Luca Venantini as Bobby
- Joan Riordan as Tina
- Don Ruffin as Carlos
- Goffredo Unger as Mall Guard
Did you ever have one of those movies that you didn’t think you’d seen, but when you finally watched it, it turned out you already had? That’s the case for Chad and his pick for this episode, Cannibal Apocalypse, also known as Cannibals in the Streets, Cannibal Massacre, Cannibals in the City, Invasion of the Fleshhunters, Savage Apocalypse, Savage Slaughterers, The Slaughterers, Apocalypse domani, and Asphalt-Kannibalen. With all those alternate titles, it’s easy to see how he might have been confused.
This time around, Chad points out that this allegory for Viet Nam veterans returning home has no one to root for. He’s a John Saxon fan and thinks he is the best thing about the movie, but he is perplexed by the film and the fact that it even exists.
Crystal loves John Saxon as well, especially his confused and shocked look when he sees his troops in the pit eating human flesh. The film is trying to be serious with a metaphor depicting PTSD as some type of contagious cannibalism but in the end, it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. And beware! There are triggers aplenty.
Bill generally appreciates director Margheriti’s work and can see why Quentin Tarantino likes him, but Cannibal Apocalypse feels to him like Margheriti wanted to make a Viet Nam movie but could only get money for a horror film and it turns out to be a bit of a mess. He does like the idea of war as a virus that comes home. Just because you’re no longer on the battlefield doesn’t mean you can escape it.
Margheriti’s The Long Hair of Death (1965) was covered in Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Episode 110 but Jeff sees few similarities between that and Cannibal Apocalypse. He loves Giannetto De Rossi’s special effects and of course, John Saxon’s performance, but also gives a trigger warning for several scenes.
At the time of this writing, Cannibal Apocalypse is available to stream from Tubi and on physical media as a Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.
Every two weeks, Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1980s podcast will cover another horror film from the 1980s. The next episode’s film, chosen by Jeff, will be Lady in White (1988), a serial killer/ghost story starring Lukas Haas.
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