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Cannibal Apocalypse

Cannibal Apocalypse

By Patrick Samuel • October 2nd, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Edmondo Amati presents

Original release: August 4th, 1980
Running time: 96 minutes

Director: Antonio Margheriti
Writers: Antonio Margheriti, Dardano Sacchetti

Cast: John Saxon

Cannibal Apocalypse

They say it’s a dog eat dog world out there, but in some cases it can also be a man eat man world, especially when it comes to some of the films from the notorious Video Nasties list. Cannibal Apocalypse, directed by Antonio Margheriti, went on to become one of the most famous films in that collection along other delights such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left.

What makes Cannibal Apocalypse such a curiosity for those who haven’t seen it, is of course its labelling as a Video Nasty. It has the lure of the forbidden and the mystery and promise of something terrifying…something so inhuman…

The movie opens with Norman Hopper (John Saxon) and his men rescuing captive POW’s in Vietnam. The POW’s are kept imprisoned in a hole in the ground and starved. Following an attack, a burning woman falls in with them and the starved men tear her to pieces and devour her. By the time Norman finds them, he’s shocked to see the state they’re in. As he lowers his hand to pull them out, he’s bitten by one of the men, at which point he wakes up from his nightmare, safe in his bed next to his wife and back at home in Atlanta. He gets up, walks to the kitchen and opens the refrigerator to get a drink but finds himself drawn to a tasty bit of raw meat instead.

The next day he gets a call from Charlie Bukowski (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), one of the rescued POWS’s who’s just been released from psychiatric care; he asks Norman if he’d like to go out for a drink. Norman though is unwilling to recount his tales with Charlie and would prefer to forget the whole thing so he puts down the phone and gives in to his teenage neighbour’s attempts to seduce him. She hoists up her dress and Norman goes down on her. Later on she comments on how much she enjoyed him biting her stomach just before her nagging aunt calls her away.

Cannibal Apocalypse

A rejected Charlie decides to spend his afternoon at his local cinema but his plans get ruined again when he takes a bite out of a woman’s neck as her boyfriend fondles her in the seat in front of him. This results in panic and chaos of course and in a strange turn of events a gang of motorcyclists end up chasing him through a department store where a shootout ensues, ending up on a live news broadcast which Norman just happens to catch a glimpse of. A security guard at the store who doesn’t hear a parade of motorcycles reacts quickly at the sound of a gunshot though, but his prowess is no match for Charlie and he gets it in the gut with a bullet. Norman arrives at the scene and offers to talk Charlie out though and brings him out to the police.

They get him back to the hospital where Tom (Tony King), another rescued POW, is also being kept, but a sudden urge for human flesh gets the better of them again and they attack the doctors. One of the nurses is also attacked. Back at the police station the police are all eating each other and at the hospital, the nurse who was attacked has a go at cannibalism herself. She bites off the tongue of the doctor as they kiss; it promptly slops on the floor as he bleeds out. After she finishes killing him, she frees the POW’s and they escape together to find more flesh to gnaw on. By this time Norman joins them and they chainsaw a mechanic’s leg for lunch.

On the run, they find refuge in the sewers, but they end up being cornered by police with flamethrowers! Only Norman survives and makes it back to his house where he’s ready to die. His wife has also been bitten and is infected as well, asks him to kill her. Cannibal ApocalypseHusband and wife lie down together, but across from them in the house next door, the horny teenage girl and her younger brother have just finished packing some human meat in the freezer.

One of the jarring aspects of the movie is the soundtrack score. Rather than composed of tense strings, bellowing horns and clashing cymbals, it’s instead packed with 70’s disco-like guitars and bass making it feel more like an episode of Charlie’s Angels, The A-Team or The Fall Guy verging on porn than an actual gore movie. It relieves the tension instead of building it, and for me I found this is a drawback as I normally rely on a soundtrack together with a well crafted scene to build a movie and guide me through the story. Others though have praised it and some have even been inspired by it.

While many may view the film as a commentary on how the Vietnam War devoured America or something with a political context I don’t see it that way. For me, Cannibal Apocalypse says more about repression in society. While repression can be of great help in allowing us to move along with our daily lives while resisting urges to take what we want either for financial or sexual gain or to service other appetites it can also have harmful consequences as ego and id battle it out in the mind. Memories and urges can boil to the surface and the right trigger can turn a usually agreeable person into a slave to their desires, hungers and fetishes.

This is what I ultimately see Cannibal Apocalypse as a film about. Norman wants to forget his experience in Vietnam. His wife fights her desire for a male colleague. The nurse has a secret affair with the doctor at the hospital. The teenage girl is forced by her aunt to control herself. Charlie has a weakness for women’s breasts. These are all people who repress urges in themselves which finally manifest as cannibalism, forcing them to tear others apart the way they are being torn apart inside.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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