aka CANNIBALS IN THE STREETS, INVASION OF THE FLESH HUNTERS
(Italy/Spain - 1980; 1982 US release)
Directed by Anthony M. Dawson (Antonio Margheriti). Written by Jimmy Gould (Dardano Sacchetti) and Anthony M. Dawson (Antonio Margheriti). Cast: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, John Morghen (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), Cindy Hamilton (Cinzia de Carolis), Tony King, Wallace Wilkinson, Ray Williams (Ramiro Oliveros), May Heatherly, Joan Riordan, Luca Venantini, Venantino Venantini, Paul Costello. (Unrated, 96 mins)
Throughout his long career, journeyman Italian genre master Antonio Margheriti dabbled in everything from sword & sandal epics, sci-fi, gothic horror, giallo, spaghetti westerns, action flicks, family comedies, to whatever YOR: THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE is. 1980's CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE was his only stab at the graphically gory, extreme Italian horror made famous by the likes of Lucio Fulci in the wake of George A. Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978). He didn't really care for that style of horror, and CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE reflects that by trying to go for something a little different than the post-DAWN zombie flicks and the flesh-munching jungle cannibal films of Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi.
But CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE doesn't disappoint if you're just looking for gore. From flesh-munching to tongues being ripped out to eyes being gouged out to one hapless victim's limbs being buzzsawed off to the scene filmed through the gaping hole in one character's shotgunned belly, Margheriti, however reluctantly, delivers the goods. On the uncut Image DVD (which still looks quite nice and held up very well for being a decade old), Saxon mentions that he was going through a very rough period in his life while shooting CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE. He was in the midst of a divorce and wasn't aware (or so he claims) of just how gory the film was going to be, and was ignorant of the whole Italian cannibal subgenre (and in his defense, the original Italian title was APOCALYPSE DOMANI, which translates "Apocalypse Tomorrow." I can't imagine what influenced that title). Between his divorce and being stuck in a film he didn't want to do, Saxon's performance is surprisingly believable and very effective. He's always been a better actor than some of his career choices would indicate, and whatever pain he was going through in his personal life had a profound impact on his work here. It's one of his best performances, buried in something that drive-in audiences saw as INVASION OF THE FLESH HUNTERS.
|John Saxon and Giovanni Lombardo Radice in an Atlanta flea market in 1980...|
|...and reunited at a 2008 horror convention!|
(photo from Pauraprod.com)