Cannibal Apocalypse (Antonio Margheriti / Italy-Spain, 1980):
(Apocalypse Domani; Invasion of the Fleshhunters; The Cannibals Are in the Streets; Virus)

It opens with beige Vietnam footage, much like Angerís Invocation of My Demon Brother, and unleashes blistering recreations of a jungle inferno, a tight study with canted lenses. An enemy warrior is struck by flames and topples into the bamboo pit containing a couple of American prisoners, the handheld camera tilts down to them as they feast on her entrails; the rescuing officer (John Saxon) reaches down and gets his arm bitten, the malady accompanies him to America. What follows is a curious anagram of Rabid, with borrowings from Lolita and The Third Man and Antonio Margheritiís joking feeling for systematic chaos. Back home, the veteran tries to quell his fascination with bleeding meat but canít resist nibbling the eager nymphet next door (Cinzia De Carolis). The traumas catch up with him in the form of his biting Nam buddy (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), named Bukowski after the man who wrote that "some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must live." Bukowski goes to the movies, the brutality on the screen is conflated with the couple groping in the next aisle, he responds by releasing his inner cannibal and joining the spectacle. "Some sort of biological mutation due to psychic alteration" is the official prognosis, though, as the movie runs through severed body parts, it increasingly shuns logic in favor of the type of surrealism that turns a bowling ball-sized gut wound into a silent-movie iris through which the action is framed. The irony of the original title (Apocalypse Tomorrow) sailed over the critics' head, the gag of the dubbed Italian actor sitting by a puddle of gore and calling Yankee Doodleís feather "macaroni" even more so. One writer, Senses of Cinema's Patricia MacCormack, understood it rather well, down to the complicit exchange of looks between two youngsters who see in Margheritiís horrors not just contamination, but new beginnings. With Elizabeth Turner, Tony King, Wallace Wilkinson, and Mary Heatherly.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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