The film ends with a familiar scene. The veteran calmly dons his old but pristine uniform before a mirror. His chest covered with medals. Finally, he polishes and loads his gun, preparing either for suicide or carnage.
Invasion of the Flesh Hunters is another horror film about the men ruined by Nam, returning home to inflict their pathologies on the civilians who sent them abroad, then discarded them. In Spaghetti Nightmares, director Margheriti expresses his own personal distaste for screen violence, and explains, "My initial intention was to make a film which carried a sociological, anti-war message. I wasn't aiming at making a 'splatter' at all, but, in the end the producers, who wanted to copy the popular trend launched by Romero's Dawn of the Dead, had the last word."
Margheriti works an old but reliable metaphor. The first explicit entry in this Vietnam horror subgenre, and a superior film, was 1972's Deathdream (aka, The Night Walk, Dead of Night, The Night Andy Came Home, The Veteran). Romero's Night of the Living Dead has also been interpreted as such, but its message was implicit. And in Jacob's Ladder the vets alone suffered the war's aftereffects, they themselves inflicting no harm on the civilian population.
It's always curious to see foreigners portray Americans in foreign films. The 1982 Italian futurist film, 1990: Bronx Warriors, is laughably entertaining for its incongruous juxtapositions, featuring white South Bronx gangstas mouthing lengthy Euro-existentialist speeches. Likewise, while Invasion of the Flesh Hunters is set in the US (it was filmed in Georgia and Italy), its biker gang dresses like trendy Euro-trash.
This being a European film, there is an illicit affair subplot and some trashy but bland music. John Saxon performs well, as do the supporting cannibals and shapely actresses. The jungle battle was cheesy, but the crazed-vet-in-a-stripmall-shootout (shades of Dawn of the Dead) and cannibal feasts should please gorehounds.
A respectable entry in Italy's cannibal cinema oeuvre.