Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Cannibal Capers

I had another of those moments today, where I completely misconstrued a newspaper headline that I had glanced at.  It was along the lines of a former patient suing a hospital after contracting a flesh eating bug there.  At first glance I thought that it was a story about how someone had been exposed to some virus which had turned them into a flesh eating fiend, chewing their way through the wards.  Perhaps, I thought, the virus was the result of some kind of shady research being carried out at the hospital.  Probably by a mad doctor.  I had visions of a crazed cannibal, stalking the hospital corridors, clad in a blood soaked hospital gown, tearing the throats out of stray porters with his teeth.  Maybe, I thought, the people he bit, but didn't eat, would also turn into cannibals, resulting in gangs of them overrunning the hospital and the military having to be called in to try and control the situation - by shooting anyone who looked like a cannibal.  Perhaps the whole thing culminated with the whole hospital being burned to the ground in an attempt to contain the cannibal holocaust.  It would make one Hell of an episode of Holby City.

Except, of course, that if something like that had actually happened, then I'm sure that I would have read about it in the papers.  At which point, I came back to reality and realised that the headline was, obviously, referring to the fact that the patient in question had contracted a bug that ate his flesh, whilst in hospital.  I blame those Italian cannibal movies for my initial confusion.  Most specifically Antonio Margheriti's Cannibal Apocalypse, which boldly mixes the Vietnam war movie with the cannibal sub-genre and introduces the fascinating idea that cannibalism might actually be a contagious disease, transmitted by bite, rather than a cultural phenomena.  If not exactly a great movie, Cannibal Apocalypse is certainly audacious, if not outrageous.  It throws absolutely everything into the mix: disturbed Vietnam vets, cannibals, gore, biker gangs, medical horror, the whole damn lot.  Plus, it stars the legendary John Saxon, an actor whose career has been as long as it has been varied, with the quality of the stuff he's appeared in varying wildly.  But, to return to the point, whatever its deficiencies, the imagery and concepts articulated by Cannibal Apocalypse are clearly sufficiently powerful to have made a lasting impression on me.



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