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Review: Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

96 Min. /AKA Invasion of the Flesh Hunters / Directed by Antonio Margheriti

A Vietnam Vet (John Saxon) is brought back into action when his old crazy war buddy “Charles Bukoswki” (John Morghen) is let out of the looney bin and starts to raise hell and eat people. It turns out that Bukowski, Saxon and some their other war buddies are actually suffering from a disease which they contracted in ‘Nam which makes them want to raise hell and eat people. They give the disease to others who in turn run around raising hell and eating people.

Cannibal Apocalypse (AKA Invasion of the Flesh Eaters, Apocalypse Domani) is a pretty wild little film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Probably the only cannibal film to be set in a city, this is also probably the only cannibal picture where the cannibals are actually made out to almost be the heroes of the thing! John Saxon is his usual greatnes, whilte Morghen gives off his usual insanity (Bukowski?). can be fo. There’s also a little Gianetto De Rossi gore, if that kind of thing turns you on.

The differences between the US Video Treasures release and the Japanese (laserdisc?) release are numerous. The Video Treasures tape is titled “Invasion of the Flesh Hunter,” appears to be cropped/stretched, runs approximately 93 min, and is missing numerous little bits of gore. The Japanese release runs around 96 minutes, is widescreen (around 1.66), is correctly titled “Cannibal Apocalypse” and is fully uncut. The Japanese picture quality was very poor, but’s related more to the fact that the copy I reviewed was a dupe. Both releases exhibit very muffled audio quality, so that’s a problem that must have occured somewhere in the production of the fim or the film print.

Japanese VHS / Video Treasures VHS Comparison

What follows is the results of a side by side comparison I made between the two versions, using the 96 min. Japanese tape as a counter reference: 

6 min. – Extra seconds or so of Morghen and his friends munching on the burning villagers. In the Video Treasures cassette there’s an audible “jump” in the soundtrack where the footage was cut.

7min. – When saxon discovers the men in the hole, they munch on the flesh a few seconds longer before noticing him. That awkward zoom shot into Saxon is also repeated.

24 min. – When the security guard slowly walks up to the dead body, there’s a POV shot a few seconds pushing into bloody biker that’s been totally cut out of the Video Treasures release

29 min. – The beginning and end of the shot of Morghen dragging the body down the hallway has been extended by a few seconds.

54 min. – When the policeman bursts through the door to see the guy eating, there a nice short little zoom in to the guy munching and one additional line of dialogue from the policeman; he asks him “what are you doing?”

58 min. – The nurses’ first murder of the doctor is nearly twice as long, with a few extended lingering shots of the doctors gaping, bloody mouth which are missing from the video treasure version. The beating at the ending is also greatly extended. The video Treasure version is actually edited slightly differenlty as well.

1hr 05 min. – The chopping of the leg in the gas station, probably the most-edited scene. On the Video Treasures tape, the cutting is barely hinted at and lasts a few seconds, but the Japanese version presents an incredibly graphic slicing that last three or four times as long.

1hr 09 min. – There are a few seconds worth of extra or extended shots in the fight scene with the bikers. The eye-gouging also might have been extended but only by a second.

1hr 22 min. – John morghen’s famous “hole in the chest” scene has been chopped in half in the video treasures cut, deleting or shortening a number of wild shots looking through the hole.

2020 Update: Cannibal Apocalypse has been re-release in an incredible new Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber which really earn the title of “restoration.” I mean the Image Entertainment DVD from years ago was remastered as well and had some excellent extras like interview featurettes and a “then and now” look at the locations, but this new Blu-Ray look stunning, presenting a lush filmic transfer of the movie. Also included is a commentary track from Video Watchdog’s Tim Lucas.

More Screenshots from the Blu-Ray

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