Vietnam: Captain Norman Hopper (John Saxon) has just freed two of his
friendss, Charlie (Gioanni Lombardo Radice) and Tommy (Tony King), from a
Vietcong prisoner camp, but he had to realize his friends have become
cannibals ... and what's worse, Charlie even bites him ...
Years later, back in the USA: Charlie and Tommy have been treated in a
mental institution for their cannibalistic tendencies, and Charlie is
considered healed enough that he is allowed his first day out on his own.
The first thing he does is call his Caotain, Norman, to meet up for a beer
- but Norman seems a tad reserved, and tells Charlie no, which pretty much
sets Charlie up. A short time later though, Norman, a happily married man,
makes a pass on Mary (Cinzia De Carolis), the neighbours' teenage girl,
but instead of seducing her, he bites her in the leg ... which she quite
In the meantime, Charlie, in town, has started biting people, later he
is hunted down by the police and bikers alike and seeks refuge in a
department store - where guns are sold. As he is a trained elite soldier,
it is an easy task for him to hold the position.
When Norman hears about his friend, he goes over to the department
store to help the police capture Charlie without any further bloodletting,
and he even succeeds in persuading Charluie to give himself up and return
to the mental istitution - but during his arrest, Charlie bites a cop ...
quite harmless, it seems, but soon enough, the cop shows signs of
cannibalism himself ...
Back at the mental institution, Charlie and Tommy make an attempt to
break out, but it only ends in them being tied to their beds ... but not
before one of them bites Doc Helen (May Heatherly) and infects her with
cannibalism as well.
Norman, who is of course infected as well, he just seems to be better
in suppressing his cannibalistic urges, stops by the very same institution
Tommy and Charlie are held to have a medical check-up ... which is exactly
the time Doc Helen bites down her colleagues and helps Tommy and Charlie
to escape, and soon enough, Norman joins the bunch.
The quartet makes good their escape with some wild plans to return to
Vietnam, but soon they are cornered in the sewers, where the police kills
Charlie, Tommy and Doc Helen. Only norman, the most capable of the group,
manages to escape. He returns home, clouded in his mind, and puts on his
uniform, then he threatens his wife Jane (Elizabeth Turner). When Doc
Mendez (Ramiro Oliveros) of the mental institution, a close friend
of Jane, stops by though, she falls into his arms ... and is
promptly bitten by him, because by now he is infected too. Norman's mind
might be clouded, but he still knows he loves his wife, and he shoots
Mendez. And when his wife, aware of what is going to happen to her,begs
him to shoot her as well, he does so, then he takes his own life.
For the police captain (Wallace Wilkinson) the case is closed ... but
it seems everybody has forgotten neighbours' Mary, who has since bitten
her bossy aunt (Joan Riordan) to death ...
Most of the times, Apocalisse Domani is labelled as just
another Italian cannibal shocker, which were going strong in the late
1970's/early 80's. And even though the film is about cannibals, the
labelling is essentially wrong as the film doesn't feature cannibalism as
a sociological phenomenon of some savage tribes in a far-off jungle but
rather a result of warpolitics of the civilized world gone horribly wrong,
which allows the film to portray its perpetrators as victims as
well as as villains - somehow resembling Ted Kotcheff's First Blood,
a film that didn't come out until two years later.
Unfortunately this might sound much better than it is, the finished
film never lives quite up to its promise and often gives way to
sensationalist images rather than interesting ideas.
However, the film is still worth a look despite its shortcomings, it
does treat its subject with some intelligence despite the expected gore
scenes (which are not as strong as often suggested), and John Saxon gives
one of the best performances of his career.