Cannibal Apocalypse (Vietnam Cannibal Zombie Horror)


It’s always a good day when a highly underrated splatter classic hits 4K, and this month it’s Antonio Margheriti’s Cannibal Apocalypse letting loose compliments of Kino Lorber. Also known as Cannibals in the Streets and Invasion of the Flesh Hunters, this lean and mean dose of nastiness has been shocking audiences ever since its unrated theatrical release in 1980 through Almi Pictures. Is it an insightful Vietnam parable or just another gorefest? You decide. Col. Hopper (a perfect slow burn performance by John Saxon) is a man with a dilemma. After an unfortunate run-in with some POWs in a tiger cage, he has a proclivity for the taste of warm blood and human flesh. A modest family man living in suburban Atlanta, Hopper keeps these sinister urges at bay until his Army buddy Bukowski (John Morghen at his twitchy best) gets sprung from the mental ward at Grady Memorial Hospital. Much mayhem ensues as Hopper sadly gives in to temptation and the cannibals undoubtedly hit the streets in search of fresh flesh.


What makes Cannibal Apocalypse work so well is the perfect blending of gut-wrenching horror, sleek action and a distinct brand of pathos. Saxon was never going to win an Oscar, but his particular brand of quiet cool makes Hopper a truly tragic character as he attempts to reconcile his addiction for grue with his love for his wife and the quiet life. A perfect contrast to Saxon is provided by both John Morghen and Tony King, who go for broke in performances that climb the asylum walls with genuine insanity. The underrated Margheriti tows the line like the king he was, mixing genres like exotic drinks and knowing when to slow it down and when to pump out the heavy-duty action. Attention must also be made to the incredible gore FX by Gianetto Di Rossi, who shines brightest during the thrilling sewer shootout near the end of the film that will leave you breathless. Kino Lorber are stickers for quality, and their 4K release of Cannibal Apocalypse is no exception. The new transfer is an absolute stunner with extremely vivid colors (dig those reds!) and a genuinely clean and striking image. Extras are abundant, with my particular favorite features being the insightful commentary provided by Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog and the retrospective “Cannibal Apocalypse Redux” which features the sadly departed Saxon and Morghen to great effect. All in all, a perfect collection and a great job by Kino Lorber. In conclusion, Cannibal Apocalypse is a ton of fun with attitude to spare that fortunately does not contain any of the more troublesome aspects of the genre (read: animal cruelty) to put off potential viewers. This is an absolute must-buy and a reminder of how much fun Italian splatter must be. Don’t be shocked if the ending reduces you to tears. Pick this one up pronto.


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Written by David, Comptroller of Your Last Scrap of Existence

Cannibal Apocalypse (2024 on Blu-ray)
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Distributor: Kino Lorber
4.6 / 5