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CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE (1980)
aka CANNIBALS IN THE STREETS aka INVASION OF THE FLESH HUNTERS aka CANNIBAL VIRUS
Directed by Antonio Margheriti
Starring John Saxon, Giovanni Lombardo Radice (John Morghen), and Elizabeth Turner.
96 minute Japanese version reviewed.

CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE opens up in Vietnam (leading the viewer to believe it's gonna be a war movie) where American officer, Norman (Saxon), discovers two G.I.s in a bamboo covered pit trap. Much to his disgust (and the viewers delight)  he just happens to catch them in the act of devouring a Vietnamese peasant. As he helps the two out of the pit, he is bitten on the arm by one of the soldiers. Cut to modern day Atlanta where Norman is leading a normal life (with the occasional 'Nam flashback) with his wife (Turner). One day out of the blue Norman gets a call from Bukowski (Radice), one of the soldiers he rescued. Needless to say,  Norman's a bit disturbed, as he is currently under psychiatric care for his post traumatic stress disorder and doesn't want to be reminded of his past. To make a long story short, the two meet up and the cannibal virus that has been dormant in Norman kicks in. They bust the other soldier out a VA hospital and go on a murderous, flesh-munching rampage through the streets of Atlanta.

Serious film critics often dismiss this as a DAWN OF THE DEAD rip-off. This is crap! The only similarity is that the virus that causes the hunger for flesh is transmitted through bites. Margheriti paces the film well, and manages to develop the relationship between Norman and his significant other to a point that the viewer actually gives a damn about what is going to become of it. The Gianetto (ZOMBIE) de Rossi FX are plentiful and meaty. My personal favorite involves a person (who shall remain nameless) taking a major shotgun blast. The camera moves in and damned if you can't see the action right through the gaping hole in the poor suckers chest! Unfortunately we don't have any sexy Euro babes in this film but hey, it's a butt kicker anyway. My only wish is that they could have written in some better fighting for Saxon to demonstrate the martial arts abilities he showed in some of his other films. I guess that would be asking for too much. I have not seen the domestic version of this gem but my books list it as having a running time of only 90 minutes and I don't think the missing five minutes involves plot! The Japanese print is a bit dark in times but I urge anyone wanting to check this film out to obtain it anyway. After all, letterboxed (1.85 to 1) and uncut is the only way to go!
-Mortado