Then I sort of picture Dardano saying "That is a Challenge, but I'll see what I can do!" only to be countered with Antonio saying:
"And... it has to all take place... in ATLANTA, GEORGIA!"
It's almost admirable the way Dardano stretches the story between the vital plot points to make this a vaguely cohesive whole and not just an R-Rated Clip Show. The film itself also transcends a few of the weaker elements, surprisingly, suggesting that each minor-thread of the plot might have made a good movie if not mixed in with the rest. But then, each minor thread of the plot had already been made into a movie by somebody else, giving rise to Sacchetti's script!
Apocalypse Domani was one of several European-made Exploitation cash-ins on the 1979 release of Apocalypse Now. In fact, Apocalypse Domani (which is Italian for "Apocalypse Tomorrow") was released almost exactly one year after Apocalypse Now. However, it doesn't quite rip-off Apocalypse Now for long. Soon after our intrepid Green Beret Captain Norman Hopper (John Saxon, in yet another Video Nasty) arrives to liberate his men from the POW camp they've been interred in, they bite him.
Hmmm... I don't remember Kurtz taking a bite out of Willard in Apocalypse Now! Maybe that's a scene that didn't even make it into the Redux version. Both flicks have a "Hopper", though!
You see, somehow while stuck in the crap camp, Charlie Bukowski (John Morghen, really Giovanni Lombardo Radice) and Tom Thompson (Tony King, who is now a Christian Minister!) have taken to cannibalism like I have "taken" to obscure references and lame sex jokes. This is demonstrated when a female captor (who is set on fire by one of the invading American Soldiers) falls into their pit, revealing that she is actually a rather poorly constructed rubber dummy. Naturally, Tom and Charlie start eating her. Now before you go and call that "Savage", please note that at least she was cooked! These guys are Americans, damn it, and they don't eat Raw Meat! They're CIVILIZED Cannibals, man!
So civilized, in fact, that after a few unseen years, it looks like they're about to be released from the mental institution they ended up in after the war. Meanwhile Hopper is busy having nightmares about being bitten in the jungle by his own men. Yeah, because he's an American, damn it, and if somebody's going to bite him, it'd better be a chick! Speaking of which, his wife Jane (Elizabeth Turner) is getting increasingly worried about him and his neurotic tendencies, so she goes to see Dr. Phil! Okay, Okay, it's not the same Dr. Phil... it's Dr. Phil Mendez, played by Ray Williams (whose secret identity is Ramiro Oliveros). His response? "I told you you should've married me!"
Folks, we're barely out of the opening credits and we've already got Viet Nam, Cannibalism, Nightmares, a Love Triangle and a scene or two in a One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest-like hospital! If Saxon had only had his Nightmares on ELM STREET, we'd have yet another reference... but alas, alack, he had to wait another Four Years for that to happen!
What else can we add to this? Hmmmmmmmmm... how about the sexy little neighbor girl using the opportunity of Mrs. Hopper's doctor visit to try to get herself a slice of Norman pie? Yep... enter this story's Lolita in the form of a hot little number named Mary who tries all KINDS of tricks and traps to get Saxon's hands on her bare thigh and to end up standing in his living room in her panties. Seeing as how Mary was played by Cinzia De Carolis (credited here as Cindy Hamilton), who was twenty and, thus, legal when this came out, I'm safe in adding: "Yum!"
The haphazard and plagiarized plot gets even further inflated when Charlie, rebuffed by Normie (who is more interested in what Mary's hiding under her thigh-length sweater), uses his psyche-ward day pass to take in a movie and (in lieu of popcorn) decides to munch on a fellow theater patron, which she thinks is darned un-neighborly! To be fair, though, he's probably bored... after all... CHARLIE DON'T SURF!!! This leads, almost immediately, to an altercation with some bikers (who apparently are okay with harassing women, as long as nobody bites them), followed by his holing up in a strip mall with a rifle shooting (and, if possible, eating) people.
All that for only $19.95! But wait, there's more! The people he bites that day become infected by some kind of ridiculous "Cannibal Virus" - explained in the lamest of ways by a nurse named Helen (May Heatherly) - and those people bite somebody else and then Tom starts biting people and they start biting other people and... looks like we've got a contagion on our hands. NOW HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY???
Dr. Phil and his team (which includes Jane) are soon aided by a Police Captain named McCoy (Wallace Wilkinson who says things like "It's time to shit or get off the pot!" and other lame garbage) against a growing problem of people becoming Cannibals because of this poorly thought-out virus.
So let's talk about that... The virus makes people become Cannibals... therefore, they want to eat other people, but with one bite the other person becomes a Cannibal too, so they're hungry a lot of the time, I'm guessing. But take note, these aren't Zombies, man... these are just asshole cannibals. They have their wits about them, they retain all their memories, they die from the same things that people die from... they just also like to eat people, and it's uncontrollable! Hmmmm... Okay, but immediately when one of them becomes a Cannibal, they're PART OF THE TEAM, a team of Cannibals working with Cannibals logically and rationally. But wait a second... isn't the hunger for human flesh uncontrollable? So... why don't they start eating each other? Because they're working together? Then... it's not uncontrollable. Why don't they resist eating their friends and family if they're good at not eating their cannibal brethren? Is it just so they can keep the audience guessing who's eating who as they liberally rip off themes from 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Is this some sort of post 'Nam Solidarity movement? The Cannibal Panthers, maybe?
It all boils down to yet another example of the lame-ass excuse used in a few too many exploitation flicks: Metaphor! Since Romero started using metaphorical imagery in movies like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, his imitators promptly started saying "Oh, yeah... um... us too!" Hence Margheriti and Sacchetti (both of whom are credited with writing the screenplay albeit as Anthony M. Dawson and Jimmy Gould, respectively) want to pass this off as some kind of poetic representation of the way Vietnam Veterans were treated after the war. While this is a serious subject, I have to wonder if portraying them as viral chick-biting douche bags is even remotely helpful to their cause. What was this, some early version of Born on the Fourth of July? Man if I were some Vietnam Vet and I went to see this thing in some creaky old Grindhouse, I wouldn't have been like "Oh, finally, somebody gets it!" I'd be like "What the- So I'm a People-Eater now? You bastards!"
Somehow all those protest songs missed out on that side of the whole Vietnam struggle... But I can sort of see how that might go... "But what can a poor boy do, Except to eat with my Cannibal band? Cause in Sleazy Atlanta, Georgia There's just no place for a Chick Bitin' maaaaaaaa-aaaaaaan Whoa!!!"
Okay, I'll stop.
No I won't, screw that! Call me cinnamon because I'm on a ROLL!
This film is, by my research, the most re-titled film on the Video Nasty list and simply has to be among the most renamed films in history. 26 titles were slapped on to this one for various edits, re-releases, advertisements... all kinds of things. In Greece the titles riffing on Apocalypse Now were clearly working as Cannibal Apocalypse was released there as Apokalypsi 2 to follow their own release of Apocalypse Now, there called Apokalypsi tora! But where such associations weren't working, all kinds of references to Invasion of the Body Snatchers were used as titles (such as Invasion of the Fleshhunters). Talk about a "Viral Advertising Campaign!" Here's a laugh, this film was also released as Virus, which was the original title to another 1980 flick we in the USA now know as Hell of the Living Dead, starring Margit Evelyn Newton! Another alternate title for Apocalypse Domani was Hunter Of The Apocalypse. Margheriti's very next film after this one was known in the UK as "Hunter of the Apocalypse", which featured... drumroll... Margit Evelyn Newton! It all comes back to this here flick! Forget that Kev Bacon thing... let's start playing "Six Degrees of Cannibal Apocalypse"!
Dardano Sacchetti made a long career of ripping off films for his stories. Here, I can only believe that he went way overboard, shooting for a cafeteria-picked load of scenes from across the board. It's like he stuffed all these ideas in a big cup, covered it, shook it around and let them all spill out onto the carpet, yelling "YA-YA-YATZEEEEEE!!!" By any name, though, Apocalypse Domani sucks, wasting the promise it has in varied moments with hops, skips and jumps into other films like some low-rent version of The Projectionist that just barely gets Two Stars out of Five. With this many lame and obvious rip offs, I wonder if an intellectual property litigation would actually qualify as a "Class Action Lawsuit"! If you've been bitten, you can sue... Sue you in the next reel!
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