Unrated / Color / 96 minutes
Directed by Antonio Margheriti
Also Known As: Invasion of the Flesh Hunters
Purchase it: Amazon.com (DVD) | Amazon.com (Blu-ray)


It’s almost two years since James “Doc Terror” Harris passed away, and I still miss our late-night brainstorming sessions. However, I find solace in imagining how much he would have appreciated recent Blu-ray releases like Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition of CREEPSHOW—his all-time favorite horror flick—and events like Exhumed Films’ 24-Hour Horrorthon, his cherished cinematic marathon. To honor Doc Terror, I continue his tradition of celebrating Italian Horror by delving into Antonio Margheriti’s visceral masterpiece, CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE!

My initial encounter with this film was during a late 90s VHS liquidation sale at Video King Superstore. I stumbled upon a movie titled INVASION OF THE FLESH HUNTERS, featuring John Saxon, and for five bucks, it was a no-brainer purchase. I watched it back then and enjoyed it, but it’s taken until now for me to revisit it.

CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE opens with Vietnam War footage blending into a harrowing seek-and-destroy mission. Captain Norman Hopper (John Saxon) and his squad clear caves using heavy weaponry, rescuing POWs including his friend Charlie (Giovanni Lombardo Radici). Amid the chaos, Hopper is bitten, awakening from his nightmare flashback deeply disturbed.

Years after the war’s end, Hopper, plagued by haunting memories and newfound urges, discovers Charlie and Tom Thompson (Tony King) confined in a clinic under Dr. Phil Mendez (Ramiro Oliveros). Charlie, deemed cured, soon reveals a terrifying truth—he’s infected, driven by a cannibalistic compulsion triggered by traumatic memories.

As the infection spreads, Hopper, fearing his own contamination, joins forces with Charlie, Tom, and infected nurse Helen (May Heatherly). Fleeing authorities, they plunge into a nightmarish odyssey through Atlanta’s underbelly, evading capture while succumbing to primal instincts.

Margheriti’s CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE taps into the 80s cannibalism craze, using a viral outbreak as a metaphor for post-war trauma. The infected become societal outcasts, their cannibalistic urges mirroring their inner turmoil and alienation. The film navigates these themes amidst graphic violence and gore, underscored by Alessandro Blonksteiner’s evocative score that ranges from haunting melodies to pulse-pounding disco funk.

Led by the charismatic John Saxon, the cast delivers compelling performances, particularly Giovanni Lombardo Radici as the unforgettable Charlie, whose fate becomes tragically intertwined with the escalating chaos.

CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, despite its thematic complexities, revels in exploitation, delivering visceral thrills and memorable set pieces. Margheriti’s direction keeps the pace brisk, ensuring the film remains an engaging entry in the cannibal subgenre, highlighted by standout practical effects and a distinct Italian sensibility.

Upon revisiting CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, it’s cemented itself as one of my favorite Italian Horror films. Margheriti’s skillful blending of action, horror, and psychological drama, coupled with strong performances and a stellar soundtrack, earns this film a solid recommendation. It garners a respectable rating of: 3.5 out of 5