The apocalypse starts in Vietnam where super suave John Saxon is bitten by a P.O.W. that he is sent to rescue who, apparently, is infected with some sort of cannibal virus. Skip ahead a little, back in the ole USA, and J-Sax wakes up from a nightmare of whathappened back in the jungle. Next thing we know, the P.O.W. (Morghen) that bit Johnny has turned cannibal and barricades himself in a department store, picking off street-punks with a shotgun. The cannibal virus continues to spread, but will Saxon’s handsomeness be able to stop it?!?
“An-Tonio Mar-gher-ITI!” You may remember those word from the mouth of Eli Roth in “Inglorious Bastards” during the final scenes in the (soon to be) flaming cinema house. I could have swore that this was my second film of Margheriti’s but, since most Italian horror film jackets and titles look the same, I suppose I’m ‘dead’ wrong (ya know, dead… because of the cannibals… No?). To finish my thought, maybe it was the fact that I have to get my ass in gear and SEE a ton of Margheriti films, as he highlights one of my favorite times in cinema: 60s-70s Euro Horror with such masters as Bava, Argento, and Fulci. Droooooooling.Ok, enough of this memory lane shite.
First of all, I could only get my hands on a full-screen transfer of “Apoc” but it was the real, uncut, deal; this makes it sound much more gruesome than it really is: compared to Fulci and the boys, “Apoc” is like Sesame Street; granted a weird, self mutilateding, completely ‘fawked up’ Sesame Street, but tamer nonetheless. The first thing you’ll notice is John Saxon (of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon fame) and, dammit, he’s still one handsome dude. He’s got to be pushing into his late fifties in “Apoc,” yet I still wouldn’t step on the f**ker’s toes. There is also the fact, that after not succeeding in America, he became a B-Movie ICON! overseas. ‘Fawk North America: Saxon rocks.
Unfortunately, that’s about where my praise for the film ends. It had all the makings of a great gore-fest: tormented Vietnam vets trying to adjust to modern society, psychiatric wards with over-the-top treatments, good looking ladies but, in my opinion, Margheriti shit the bed by using cannibals instead of zombies–there, I said it! It’s no surprise that I am a Zombie Freak but, unfortunately, cannibals just don’t have the same otherworldly atmosphere to them. For instance, you can somewhat reason with a cannibal as they are still human; on the other hand, there ain’t no reasoning with the walking dead! Run, man, run, or you’re lunch (that was somewhat philosophical for a movie review about cannibals no?).
I will give it up for the ‘tuckin production values of “Apoc” however. We’re talking grade A stuff here (except the Vietnam jungle scenes, which I’m pretty sure are stock footage… but we can’t win ’em all). In the end, it’s way too long for a Euro horror flick that isn’t directed by Bava, and it takes itself way too seriously, especially when the soundtrack is STRAIGHT from a 70s porn movie (no, seriously… I didn’t know whether to watch it of f**k it). I wonder if Anchor Bay has a restored release out there? I’m sure they do, because they loves them some cannibals. If Margheriti is credited as ‘Anthony M. Dawson’ for North American audiences, then I’m sure there were other changes made to the film for us North American morons as well (hopefully, in the name of sweet christ himself, the soundtrack!!).
In the end? Hate the game, not the playa (Johnny Sax!).