Whoever decided that Cannibal Apocalypse should be on the video nasties list clearly didn’t watch the film. True, there are many adult themes at play, chief among them is post traumatic stress disorder in combat veterans, and there is a fair share of violence with a bit of zombie-like flesh eating madness thrown in for good measure, but there’s nothing all too shocking about this story. Perhaps that’s my modern sensibilities getting in the way – I doubt very much that it would cause problems these days for anybody. The only exceptions I can think of would be far right fundamentalists and those who faint at the sight of blood.
And that’s one of a number of issues that can seriously hinder your enjoyment. Overlaying scenes of violence with a funky disco soundtrack could work under the right circumstances. Who thought this was a good idea, seriously? It’s noticeably jarring, ruining any atmosphere that might have been building and takes you out of the story completely. At least you can turn it into a drinking game. Take a shot every time John Saxon looks concerned, take another every time somebody gets bitten. Take two shots when the person doing the biting is a zombie cannibal. Expand on it from there.
If anything that title is misleading. It may very well be another classic example of the Italian exploitation horror film, but there is little cannibalism, even less apocalypse, and to describe it as a zombie film is equally dubious. J’accuse, Horror Channel and your incorrect description of the film. “Lots of standing around with very little happening” would have been a more appropriate title. Still, there are a few good moments dotted throughout, it’s just tarnished by an overly dramatic title and a distinct lack of anything of interest happening for vast periods of time.
Apparently it has been praised for its gore in the past. Yes, this is rather good, but there’s surprisingly little of it. Even the slightest bit of extra effort in this area would have paid dividends and almost made it worthwhile. But nope.
Initially the most surprising aspect of Cannibal Apocalypse, apart from that funky disco soundtrack, is the presence of genre favourite John Saxon. Ignoring the fact he seemed to have been blissfully unaware that this was an Italian schlock horror until it was too late to pull out of the project, his back catalogue is filled with appearances in such low budget projects. With this in mind it’s not all that surprising, although his understated performance often contrasts significantly with those of his co-stars. It’s like he stepped into something like Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 or Sleepaway Camp and nobody thought to tell him.
Unlike those two examples Cannibal Apocalypse isn’t so bad it’s good, although it does have its moments. The fact that many of the characters seem to enjoy being bitten, for one – and not by zombies. Quite an odd fetish to affect this small locale, to say the least.
Still, the domestic setting of the whole picture gives it a completely unique appearance when compared to its other video nasty brethren.