Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

Genres - Horror  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - Spain , Italy   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This amusingly schizophrenic Italian genre-bender is equal parts gory horror movie, fast-paced action opus, and over-the-top melodrama. The result will never be confused for high art but Cannibal Apocalypse offers plenty of bizarre low-budget thrills for the Eurotrash aficionados. Director Anthony M. Dawson (aka Italian filmmaker Antonio Margheriti) keeps the story moving fast so viewers can't ponder the film's implausible premise and creates plenty of taut action set pieces to dazzle the eye, including the Vietnam War flashback that opens the film and a brawl between the cannibal heroes and a vengeful street gang. The film also offers plenty of amusing B-movie-styled performances that make up for their lack of polish with plenty of exuberance and intensity. Highlights include Cinzia De Carolis as an oversexed teen with eye-popping taste in clothes and Italian genre film stalwart Giovanni Lombardo Radice throwing out all the Method actor stops in his crazed performance as Vietnam vet Bukowski. Special note must also be made of the eccentric musical score by Alex Blonksteiner, which can only be described as "Ennio Morricone meets the theme music from Charlie's Angels." However, the most impressive element of the film is John Saxon's performance: no matter how bizarre or sleazy the premise becomes, Saxon plays the material straight and delivers a serious, well-crafted performance that makes it possible to stick with the film's strange premise. Ultimately, Cannibal Apocalypse is a niche film that will confound (and gross out) many viewers, but is just what the doctor ordered for anyone with a taste for exploitation filmmaking at its most bizarre.