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Cannibals in the Streets (1980)

Apocalypse domani (original title)
Mentally unstable Vietnam vets who were held captive by the Vietcong come back to America after being rescued carrying a dangerous virus that turns people into cannibals when bitten.


Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony M. Dawson)


Antonio Margheriti (screenplay) (as Anthony M. Dawson), Dardano Sacchetti (screenplay) (as Jimmy Gould) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
John Saxon ... Norman Hopper
Elizabeth Turner Elizabeth Turner ... Jane Hopper
Giovanni Lombardo Radice ... Charlie Bukowski (as John Morghen)
Cinzia De Carolis ... Mary (as Cindy Hamilton)
Tony King ... Tom Thompson
Wallace Wilkinson ... Captain McCoy
Ramiro Oliveros ... Dr. Phil Mendez (as Ray Williams)
John Geroson John Geroson ... Policeman
May Heatherly ... Nurse Helen
Ronnie Sanders Ronnie Sanders ... Orderly
Vic Perkins Vic Perkins ... Biker
Jere Beery Jere Beery ... Biker Leader
Joan Riordan Joan Riordan ... Aunt Tina
Laura Dean ... Brunette Jogger
Lonnie R. Smith Jr. Lonnie R. Smith Jr. ... Biker (as Lonnie Smith)


It starts off in Vietnam where John Saxon gets bitten by P.O.W. John Morghen who has been infected with some sort of cannibal virus. A few decades later in Atlanta, Georgia, Saxon wakes up from a nightmare flashback of what actually happened back in 'Nam. Saxon then receives a call from Morghen asking him if he wants to go out for a drink but Saxon refuses remembering the incident in 'Nam. Morghen has turned into a cannibal and is soon on the run after biting into a woman's neck. He barricades himself in a department store and shoots some folks with a shotgun. The cannibal virus spreads and soon Saxon joins veterans Morghen and Tony King along with some others to wreak some havoc. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Their rabid lust for human flesh created an epidemic See more »


Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The film watched by Bukowski at the cinema is From Hell to Victory (1979), which starred May Heatherly, who plays the role of the infected nurse Helen. See more »


When Mr. Hopper exits the door, Mrs. Hopper has a brown shawl on. The camera cuts to a close-up of Mrs. Hopper with no shawl on then returns to a shot of Mrs. Hopper with the shawl back on. See more »


[first lines]
Norman Hopper: Get away from it you asshole... get away take cover
See more »

Alternate Versions

U.S. version (with the screen title 'Invasion of the Flesh Hunters' was heavily censored of gore to earn an "R" rating instead of an "X". This version is still available on a budget USA DVD. See more »


Referenced in The Green Inferno (2013) See more »

User Reviews

Like a zombie movie, but with living people
28 February 2006 | by iago-6See all my reviews

This is a movie that follows a lot of the conventions of a zombie movie, the main difference being that instead of being dead, these flesh-eaters are alive, just taken over by a virus that turns them into deranged cannibals. It's an interesting concept, and this film features a lot of interesting scenes that you just don't see portrayed too often, such as a bizarre molestation in a film theater, and a long, tense standoff with a crazed gunman in a resale store.

This movie shows the influence of Dawn of the Dead all over it, from the resale store biker rampage and standoff to the final scenes, in which a group of four with the exact same gender/ethnic makeup as in DotD hole up against outside invaders. The interesting twist this time is that THEY are the pursued flesh-eaters, rather than the other way around.

This movie, while having rich and deep cheese deposits, also actually has some quality to it. It sustains a creepy and tense tone tied around John Saxon's growing obsession with consuming human flesh, and his struggle and fear about giving into those impulses. Saxon carries off his 'upright soldier' persona so well that one both empathizes with his struggle, and fears what will happen once his intensity is channeled into being evil. The direction is actually very good, with many shots carefully composed to create and sustain a great deal of tension and menace. And then there's just the story, which covers the first days of a viral outbreak as it begins to spread and people begin to wake up to what is going on, which is also pretty fascinating.

There's also an additional layer of tension to the movie (compared to a traditional zombie movie) in that after someone's been bitten, you aren't sure WHEN they will start turning into a crazed flesh-eater. In a regular zombie movie, they're dead until they wake up again, here they're a normal person until suddenly they just snap, which is cool.

Though this is supposed to be an 'extreme gore classic,' it's pretty tame by today's standards. When your big gore payoff shot has been done to comic effect in Death Becomes Her, the edge is pretty much gone.

Okay, now onto the individually delightful cheese elements: Stock helicopter footage opens the picture. There should be some kind of film festival of movies that incorporate unrelated stock footage, the supreme champion obviously being Hell of the Living Dead.

A guy pets a dog with an obvious explosive around its neck. He explodes—and then the funky disco music begins! What's more, the music was actually pretty good! Please note: potential cannibals should not keep huge slabs of unwrapped bloody meat in their fridge. I mean, obviously everyone does, but if you suffer from cannibalistic tendencies… A young girl comes onto John Saxon (who wouldn't?) by wanting to borrow a hair dryer. Her hair is not wet. She then reveals herself as an unhinged psychotic while blowing him (um, with the dryer) while he's trying to have an important phone conversation (with another unhinged psychotic), which would earn a punch in the mouth from me (but I am not susceptible to nubile vixens). Motorcycle chase in warehouse/resale store! Hard-bitten detective asks about mad gunman: "Is he subversive? Queer? Black? Commie?" Uptight mother advises daughter to stop "acting like a hussy!" They set real rats on fire! That's not nice.

There are EXTENSIVE background materials on the DVD, one of which tells two interesting stories: 1) That John Saxon couldn't understand enough of the script (badly translated from Italian) to know that he was in an extreme gore flick, and 2) Radice tells an incredible story about refusing to kill a real pig, leading to his "accidentally" almost severing an assistant's hand with a meat cleaver. Oops. But the docs get boring pretty quickly.

Hey, there are lot of other reviews of bad and cheesy movies (plus a lot of good movies) on my website, Cinema de Merde, which you can find through the URL in my email address.

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Release Date:

18 September 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cannibals in the Streets See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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