Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)
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Image Entertainment (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 1.0. 96 Minutes
The Movie
Director: Antonio Margheriti (Anthony M. Dawson)
Starring: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Cinzia De Carolis, Tony King, Wallace Wilkinson
Screenplay: Antonio Margheretti, Dardano Sarchetti (as Jimmy Gould)
Music: Alexander Blonksteiner
AKA: Apocalipse Cannibal, Apocalipsis caníbal; Apocalisse domani, Cannibal Apocalipsis, Apocalypse domani, Cannibal Massacre
Antonio Margheriti's (directing as Anthony M. Dawson) Vietnam cannibal flick finally makes it onto DVD courtesy of Image Entertainment as part of their Euroshock Collection. Forget your Hollywood Blockbusters - this is the kind of film that DVD was invented for!

The film opens with US soldiers invading a Vietcong village and freeing two POW's, Charlie Bukowski (John Morghen/Giovanni Lombardo Radice) and Tom Thompson (Tony King). Here we get to see the wondrous sight of John Saxon as Norman Hopper wearing a beret, firing off a machine-gun and generally trying to look fearsome. As Hopper pulls the POW's out of the pit, which has served as a makeshift prison, one of them bites him. Now this is an important thing to note and integral to the story.

Back in the good old US of A sometime later, Charlie comes in search of his old pal Hopper for a cannibalistic reunion. Hopper himself had begun to exhibit signs of strange behaviour, including biting the adolescent girl from next door when she makes a pass at him. This obviously causes Hopper a great deal of concern and he becomes increasingly worried when he receives a call from Bukowski.

Bukowski is soon on a cannibal rampage and Hopper arrives at a scene of carnage wreaked by his old friend and attempts to calm the situation and manages to bring him into police detention. But this is only the beginning as Hopper increasingly gives in to his flesh-eating urges which leads to him freeing his old mates Tom and Charlie and together, as a flesh-hungry trio, they go on the rampage across the city devouring whoever they happen upon. They are, however, hotly pursued by the authorities which leads to a literally gut-wrenching showdown in the sewers beneath the city of Atlanta.

Margeheriti's direction is solid and he has a reliable cast who are all too familiar with films of this nature. Saxon, King and Morghen play their roles to the hilt, hamming up their performances to the max. Saxon reminds this reviewer of an American version of Hugo Stiglitz, his expressions rarely change, except for maybe the occasional lilt of those fabulous eyebrows. Morghen is dependable as ever, chewing the scenery whenever he is onscreen and dying a suitably gruesome death. What Italian caper would be the same without a spectacular Morghen demise?

Margheriti's film is hugely enjoyable, packed full of memorable moments and rounded off with a super-groovy soundtrack. Italian exploitation flicks don't come much better than this. But don't expect high production values or stunning dialogue. This is simply Italian cheese at its finest - nothing more, nothing less.
The transfer is absolutely stunning, utterly faultless with vibrant colours and solid blacks and not a blemish in sight. This looks every inch as good as the latest Hollywood Blockbuster. Image have done this film full justice, and rightly so. Presented in anamorphic 1.66.1.
Although a basic DD Mono track is supplied, it is more than adequate and sounds surprisingly good. The funky soundtrack sounds great and the dialogue is crisp and clear. Perfectly acceptable and does not in any way detract from the enjoyment of the film.
Extra Features
Image have literally crammed this disc full of extras - as well as some hidden ones! On offer is a superb documentary on Cannibal Apocalypse with interviews with John Saxon. John Morghen/Giovanni Lombardo Radice and Antonio Margheriti, each giving their illuminating insights into the film. It's great to hear Saxon proclaiming what a great and profound script it is, with Morghen simply saying 'It was shit'. Priceless. Also included in the package is a featurette which is basically a tour of the shooting locations for Cannibal Apocalypse; European trailer; Japanese teaser; poster and stills Gallery; a text essay on the films' censorship history; alternate US opening sequence; cast and crew filmographies; liner notes by Travis Crawford.

These are the extras listed, but if you go the Extra Features menu, press down to the bottom and then key left you'll find a trailer for Cannibal Holocaust. Then on the cast filmographies menu if you click right once you have highlighted the actors name, you'll find a trailer for one of their films. In Morghen's/Radice's case you'll discover a trailer for the infamous Cannibal Ferox. Image have done a fabulous job in providing a wealth of extras for this DVD. It's great to see this film finally getting the treatment (and recognition) it so richly deserves.
The Verdict
This is an absolutely incredible DVD which carries one of the finest examples of Italian horror cinema. The film itself is a gem, a trash-classic in every sense of the word and unmissable viewing for every aficionado of Italian horror cinema. As the old saying goes: They don't make 'em like this anymore!

In this reviewer's opinion, every horror fan should have this DVD sitting in their collection. It is without doubt a reference quality disc and serves as a prime example of how genre classics should be presented on DVD. Let's hope that Image have a few more like this ready for future releasing.

If you like this film, then buy with confidence – you won't be disappointed!
Movie Score
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