DVD: Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)
It is the Vietnam war and Norman Hopper (John Saxon) is on a jungle mission to rescue his fellow soldiers Charlie Bukowski (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) and Tom Thompson (Tony King) who are P.O.W’s. Unbeknownst to Hopper, they have been infected with a cannibal virus and are now happily chomping down on human flesh. While reaching into their prison pit to save them, Bukowski takes a bite out of Hoppers arm…cue Hopper waking up in present day (1980) Atlanta from the nightmare which we have just viewed. A scar on his arm shows that it wasn’t just a nightmare, but a PTSD fuelled fever dream.
By now Bukowski has completely lost the plot, and after taking a bite out of a woman’s neck in a local cinema, goes on a killing rampage in a supermarket, where Hopper tries to save him from being shot by the cops.
As the cannibal infection is passed through being bitten, others in the city are slowly eschewing a KFC big bucket and biting into alternative thighs and breasts…finger licking good indeed!
Hopper, Bukowski and Thompson, accompanied by infected Nurse Helen (May Heatherly), are now on the run from the cops. This includes a chase scene in the sewers which has been immortalised many times in its home cinema release covers and press coverage, while also being vilified by Mary Whitehouse and the NVLA brigade over here in the UK during the ‘video nasties’ debate (debacle!?) in the 1980’s.
Ending on a cliffhanger involving an underage girl who tried to seduce Hopper earlier in the movie, the viewer is left to decide their own fate of the citizens of Atlanta…and indeed, the world.
Cannibal Apocalypse has its moments of gore, but nothing compared to the likes of Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. That is not to say there aren’t any moments where the blood flows freely, it is just slightly more restrained and not concentrating as much on ‘shock value’ as the 2 aforementioned titles do.
The action ebbs and flows, but John Saxon is always watchable (for me at least) and it’s interesting to see who is going to get infected and how/if this outbreak can be contained. As an allegory for PTSD, it shines a light on what has become an even bigger issue for returning soldiers in later years.
One of the more ‘palatable’ Cannibal movies, Cannibal Apocalypse is well worth watching and adding to your collection.
- Apocalypse in the streets
- European theatrical trailer
- Japanese trailer
- Alternate US opening sequence
- Poster and stills gallery
- The butchering of Cannibal Apocalypse essay