November 18, 2005
Starring: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Cinzia De Carolis, Tony King, Wallace Wilkinson, Ramiro Oliveros, John Geroson, May Heatherly, Ronnie Sanders, Vic Perkins, Jere Beery, Joan Riordan, Lonnie R. Smith, Don Ruffin, ,
Previously banned in the UK during the eighties, Cannibal Apocalypse falls into the exact sub-genre where it belongs – the video nasty. These fairly low budget, raw violence, horror flicks were popular all over the world and Cannibal Apocalypse must hold some sort of record for most titles in different countries. You may be aware of this gruesome horror trash as Apolcaliss Domani, Apocalypse Tomorrow, Invasion of the Flesh Hunters, Cannibals in the Street or Virus, to name but a few. Either way this UK release is the definitive version as it is re-released, re-package (nicely) and completely unedited.
Starting off as a jungle assault on a Vietnamese camp to extract his friends and Prisoners of War, Hopper unknowingly becomes infected with a virus and takes it back to Atlanta – that virus; Cannibalism. As Hopper struggles with his sudden urges to chow down on human flesh, his rescued friend, Burkowski, is released from hospital and the epidemic is on the streets. Before too long the anti-social behaviour of biting and eating the nearest bystander is noticed by the local law enforcement, and it’s guns, flame-throwers, and eyeball squishing crammed into the second half of the film, and right up to the surprisingly sentimental and poetic climax.
With all the missing mouthfuls of human flesh, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a zombie film, and there are similar scenes and themes and it feels a lot like Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, but to start comparing Cannibal Apocalypse to zombie films would be a mistake. The idea that Cannibalism can be transmitted through society like a virus or disease might seem quite ludicrous but the script gives us something a bit more interesting to get our teeth into. Commenting on the effects that war has on individuals, families and society are all tackled, but without seeming like a lecture. You can quite easily settled down and enjoy the action without constantly thinking about its meanings and representations.
Filmed in Atlanta, with an Italian crew you get a good crossover of ideals, and even if they don’t entirely work, they add to the humorous retro-ness. The awfully funky soundtrack, which sounds like it has been ripped from an episode of The A-Team, mixed with Italian twangs do not compliment the primitive violence and war time rescue. This filmed has aged and it has aged badly. Every now and again there are flashes of impressive workings, with the odd nicely framed shot or camera angle, which comes off as arty, but add up the obvious budgeting issues of no blood or bullet holes when shot, the blatant use of a dummy or fake body, and the questionable attempt at comedy (not sure if you can piss on tear gas to put it out), and Cannibal Apocalypse fails to be the moving voice it’s credited for.
So why was this banned? Sign of the times; that’s all. There is nothing here to be deemed worthy of a banning from today’s standards and nothing here that would make any horror or gore fan wince. The greatest joy comes from the subtle political metaphors and the distinctive change of genre, from horror to action, about half way through. Any why the constant use of the word Apocalypse in the title and so many of its counterparts, when less than ten people get infected during the course of the film?
Static menus, horribly produced features and tacky trailers, not very exciting. However Cannibal Apocalypse Redux does feature interviews with director Antonio Margheriti and star John Saxon looking back at the making of the film, they just don’t have anything of much interest to say.
The video tour of the filming locations is a complete waste of time, as is the alternate opening (features different title card). The best feature is The Butchering of Cannibal Apocalypse, which details how the film’s gorier moments were cut, it’s a shame it’s only in a text format. The gallery shows the different poster advertisements from round the world with it’s different titles, nice, but not special.