“It’s a contagious illness that manifests itself like a kind of rabies!” Sold.
Love virus movies like Cannibal Apocalypse, especially ones that throw in unnecessary Vietnam war exploitation (a German Shepherd with a bomb collar blows up in the first two minutes) and featuring a cast of b-movie big-shots and Italian nobodies with dubbed voices.
The inimitable John Saxon (Enter the Dragon) plays Norman Hopper, just back from the jungles of Vietnam where he’s trying to forget the cannibalism, machine gunning, historical anachronisms and the fires. To quote George Carlin:
“The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said…I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”
Norman returns to Atlanta (where the movie is partly filmed, along with Rome) and his mental state is questioned, especially by the likes of suitors like one Dr. Phil Mendez, who has designs on his missus:
Mrs. Hopper: I have to talk to you Phil. It’s about Norman.
Dr. Phil: Why don’t you give me a lift, we can talk about it? I always said, you should’ve married me instead!
(wow, no lead in for that?)
But it’s not Norman everyone should be worried about, it’s his recently-released buddy from ‘Nam Charles Bukowski (really? did they serve in a platoon with Raymond Chandler and John Fante?). Bukowski has just emerged from the Hospital for Nervous Disorders, which would make anybody nervous, as was his decision to check out the war film, From Hell to Victory with his first taste of freedom.
There’s an amorous couple in front of him, the guy extricating the girl from her clothes in the throes of passion (as one does while watching a violent war movie) when Bukowski reaches over and bites her in the neck.
Bukowski, who is keen on belting out Yankee Doodle Dandy, is chased from the movie theatre by patrons. He’s then set upon by a group of bikers, who suddenly turn into good Samaritans despite having aggressively hit on two female joggers minutes earlier.
They chase him to a flea market plaza which, as luck would have it sells lots of guns. Bukowski is involved in a stand-off with cops and all hell breaks loose:
What’s this asshole’s name?
Cop: Charles Bukowski!
Detective: he’ll be singing through his asshole when I’m done with him.
Meanwhile earlier, back at the ranch, Norman is being seduced by a young nympho neighbour Mary, who coos “I pulled a muscle during basketball practise!” and Norman has the urge to bite her too.
Uh oh. I see a pattern emerging.
And…there you have it folks, the cannibal virus!
Bukowski is soon sprung from the mental hospital by infected crazies and emerges to hack up body parts with a power saw to an intense saxophone and wah-guitar soundtrack. An attending physician is rendered literally speechless when his tongue is bitten off.
Also known as Savage Slaughterers, Hunters of the Apocalypse and more pedestrianly, Virus. Gory, ridiculous, straight-faced fun.
***1/2 (out of 5)