Cannibal Apocalypse, originally titled Apocalypse domani ("Apocalypse Tomorrow"), is another Italian exploitation film during the height of the cannibal craze brought on by films like Cannibal Holocaust.
This time director Antonio Margheriti changes the usual cannibal formula by taking the action out of the jungle and placing it into the city as well as making the cannibals a more zombie like virus.
Norman Hooper (John Saxon) is a commanding officer in The Vietnam War. After raiding an enemy post Norman discovers that two of his friends have been taken prisoner in a pit. When Norman tries to help them out, he is horrified to discover them eating a woman who fell in during the battle. One of the cannibals, Tom, proceeds to bite Norman.
Several years later and Norman is living a normal life in the suburbs of Atlanta with his wife Jane until one of the former prisoners Charlie (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) is released from the mental institution and tries to get a drink with his old friend. After being turned down, Charlie's old munchies soon get the best of him as a he attacks a woman in a cinema before getting into a fight with police. Though he soon returned to the institution, Norman begins to get the urge to consume human flesh. Eventually he caves and Norman, Charlie, Tom, and an infected nurse, Helen, escape and begin going on a bloody rampage through the streets.
The movie was one of many to be successfully prosecuted as a video nasty in Britain during the 80s.
This film contains examples of:
- Anti-Hero: The main character Norman spends the first half of the film trying to resist the urge to eat human flesh but once he meets up with his two former war friends Norman finally gives into his urges and runs off with his other cannibal friends. Despite this he's never seen to eat anyone and only kills those who are attacking him and his friends. At the end he kills another cannibal that tries to attack his wife. Though it fails.
- Anti-Villain: Our group of cannibals certainly didn't want to become infected by a disease that causes them to eat other people; however once they're infected many seem to lose their control and attack anyone that gets near such as the case of nurse Helen. As soon as she wakes up she almost immediately attacks another doctor whilst others like Norman, Tom and Charlie tried their best to resist it but eventually cave.
- Asshole Victims: The biker gang. They're first introduced sexually harassing two innocent joggers and their complete willingness to chase after someone even though it has nothing to do with them makes it very hard for the audience to sympathize with them when they'e slaughtered very easily by the cannibals. The cannibals themselves could also be viewed as this by some.
- Beneath the Earth: A good portion of the movie is spent with Norman, Tom, Charlie and Helen down in the sewers trying to evade the police who cornered and forced them down there.
- B-Movie: It's a low-budget 1980s Italian film about a disease that makes people eat other people, starring John Saxon.
- Berserk Button: The bikers are enraged when Charlie shoots one of them when he goes on his first rampage. Later they track him down to settle their grudge. Unfortunately for them Charlie was now traveling with his other cannibal friends who make short work of the bikers.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: At the end Norman is about to kill himself before the cops arrive but then Jane joins in on it after she is bitten by Dr Mendez so she won't become a flesh eating cannibal as well.
- Body in a Breadbox: Tina is killed by the two cannibal children, dismembered and stuffed into the fridge.
- Butt-Monkey: Poor Helen. First she's set upon by both Tom and Charlie, infecting her. Then spends a lot of the movie as the fourth wheel of the group and is constantly shoved around by both Tom and Charlie in the sewers. Then has a rat crawl onto her bloody leg. Finally deciding she doesn't want to continue being part of the group she tries to make a run for it. Right into a cop who proceeds to empty all his bullets into the only unharmed cannibal. Though to her credit she did help them get out of the hospital.
- Creepy Child: Mary's younger brother Bobby gets one at the end when both he and his sister are revealed to have become cannibals and have murdered their aunt.
- Downer Ending: By the end Norman, Jane, Charlie, Tom, Helen, Dr Mendez plus many others have died but the threat does appear to have been stopped which would have led to a Bitter Sweet Ending until its revealed that both Mary and Bobby have become infected and have killed and stuffed their aunt into the fridge showing that the nightmare is not yet over.
- Driven to Suicide: Both Norman and Jane do this after Jane gets bitten by a cannibal just before the police break into their home.
- The End... Or Is It?: Both Norman and Jane killed themselves and it appears that the disease has been contained. But then we cut to both Mary and Bobby looking out of the window, both have become infected and stuffed the remains of their aunt into the fridge.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: The four main cannibals consist of two white men (Norman and Charlie) one black man (Tom) and a white woman (Helen).
- "Everybody Dies" Ending: By the end everyone apart from the police chief and the two infected kids are dead.
- Exploitation Film: Two words should prove it. Cannibal Apocalypse.
- Extremely Short Timespan: (With exception to the flashbacks) all the action happens within 24 hours.
- Eye Scream: During the gruesome street fight between the cannibals and the bikers Charlie manages to incapacitate the gang leader long enough for him to poke his eyes out in the usual Italian fashion.
- Face–Heel Turn: For the first half of the film we think that Norman may be able to hold his sanity and resist his temptation, even after he bites his teenage neighbor by accident he does seem very remorseful as well he even tries to seek medical help. However he soon gives in and joins his cannibal friends in trying to help them escape but still remains the Only Sane Man among them.
- Gorn: Cannibalism, shooting, eye gouging, street brawls the list goes on. The most infamous instance is when Charlie gets his insides blasted out by a shotgun leaving a large gaping hole.
- Large Ham: The actor playing Tom goes all the way with this trope whilst Charlie sometimes crosses into this territory and John Saxon plays the character of Norman straight without any ham.
- The Load: Helen becomes this. Though when she first turned cannibal she didn't hesitate to kill a doctor, free Tom and Charlie, join the cannibals and almost get a sadistic glee at watching Charlie cut up a man's leg but when the bikers attack she doesn't try and help her fellow cannibals, hobbles around and when they go into the sewers gets freaked out over a rat which she naturally decides to scream and shout even though the cops are swarming the place. Ultimately it was predictable that she would be the first to get killed.
- Not Quite Dead: The female cop who had her breast bitten off by an infected officer has just enough life left in her to attack Dr Mendez and scratch him before succumbing to blood loss.
- Only Sane Man: Norman is the only one of the cannibals to not be seen eating anyone and is only shown to attack those who looked to harm his friends in contrast to the other cannibals who go off and attack others to quench their blood lust. He even tells his wife to stay away from him so as not to harm her.
- Police Are Useless: Subverted and played straight. The cops do everything they can to try and end the crisis before it spirals out of control. In fact they are able to take down three of the cannibals in the sewers but don't arrive at the Hoppers' house until both Norman and Jane have both killed themselves. Also judging by the last lines of dialogue it seems unlikely that they will check the house next door where the two infected kids reside.
- Sequel Hook: The end implies that the cannibal infection is not yet over. However for some reason no sequel was ever produced.
- Shout-Out: Giovanni Lombardo Radice's character shares his name with the famous writer and poet Charles Bukowski.
- The Smurfette Principle: Helen is the sole female cannibal in the group and the only one who isn't a Vietnam vet.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: A lightweight disco score isn't exactly what you'd expect to hear in a grisly horror flick about cannibalism.
- Together in Death: Both Norman and Jane kill themselves so as to stop themselves from putting anyone else in danger.
- Video Nasties: It was one of the 39 prosecuted films.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The girl that Charlie attacked was last seen bleeding out in the cinema from her wounds. A news report later states that she was rushed to the hospital but it is not made clear if she died there or if she survived. And if it is the latter then she would almost certainly have become a cannibal meaning the extent of the disease could be far worse that what the ending implies.
- Would Hurt a Child: It is implied that Mary probably bit or scratched her younger brother Bobby for him to have become a cannibal.