Eye For Film >> Movies >> Cannibal Apocalypse (1980) Film Review
"PREVIOUSLY BANNED IN THE U.K.!" proclaims the cover for Cannibal Apocalypse, the tale of what happens when Vietnam vets return home to the U.S. with the urge to eat meat a little bloodier, more alive and more human than your average Big Mac.
I'll confess right away that it took me two attempts to get through this. Not because it is an offensive, gore-splattered sleaze fest. I had to watch it twice because I fell asleep halfway through it the first time.
The back cover promised me that I was about to watch "ONE OF THE MOST GRUESOME AND GUT WRENCHING CANNIBAL FILMS OF ALL TIME." The back cover lied.
Back in the day, the early 1980s to be more exact, Cannibal Apocalypse was in a group of films to be banned on video during the Video Nasties scare. Other titles to get the axe were The Evil Dead, I Spit On Your Grave, Zombie Flesh Eaters and another two films with Cannibal in the title, Ferox and Holocaust. Looking at Cannibal Apocalypse today it is hard to see why it was grouped in with the titles just mentioned. It has none of the gore or sleazy inventiveness that could be found in most of the other nasties. A serious lack of quality across the board is the most obvious factor here.
Starting off like an amateur dramatics club staging of the Vietnam sequences from The Deer Hunter, Cannibal Apocalypse wastes no time in getting on with the cannibal side of things. Staging a mission to rescue some American PoWs, Norman Hooper (played by John Saxon - Enter The Dragon, Nightmare On Elm St) is understandably puzzled when he finds them chewing down on one of their would-be captors. They must have been starving! Mistakenly offering them a helping hand out of their prison hole, those crazy cannibalistic PoWs take a bite out of poor Hooper's arm, passing on those raw meat-eating tendencies.
Bring on the Apocalypse!
Instead of an apocalypse, we get a reunion of our carnivorous heroes wreaking their own brand of low-rent havoc across their hometown of Atlanta as they pass on their cannibalistic tendencies every time they snack on someone. Why this happens is never explained. But does this matter when you get a scene where a policeman comes across one of his colleagues chewing down on a policewoman's breast? Such a scene sounds gory and offensive but only comes across as unintentionally funny when the policeman remarks, without raising his voice : "My God, son! Put it down!"
To be fair, if you sit down to watch a film called Cannibal Apocalypse you can hardly expect the quality of, say, Apocalypse Now. At the least I was hoping for a few giggles and to get grossed out. What I got instead was a dreary action, horror hybrid that skimped on the action and the horror.
The gore FX fail to impress or disgust. Why this film has a reputation as one of the most heavily cut and disgusting movies is, frankly, mystifying when you watch it today. Can low-rent acting and music, a nonsensical storyline and flat direction scare anyone? No. They just press stop and eject.Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2005