The film opens with a flashback to the Vietnam War, where Norman Hopper (Saxon) is bitten by a U.S. POW Charlie Bukowski (John Morghen), who is infected with a virus which leaves people with a craving for human flesh. In Atlanta, Georgia, some years later, Hopper wakes up from a nightmare about this incident, and then receives a phone call from Bukowski, who invites his old comrade out for a drink. The call comes in at an inopportune moment, as a young neighbour girl, Mary (Cinzia De Carolis credited as Cindy Hamilton), was trying to seduce him, so he turns down the invitation. Hopper falls for her charms and as they are about to engage in oral sex, he bites her. After hearing from his concerned wife that a Vietnam vet barricaded himself in a mall, he gets into his car. Just as he is about to leave, Mary reveals that she enjoyed the bite. After arriving on the scene, he convinces Bukowski to surrender to the police. While being hauled away to the hospital, Bukowski bites a police constable.
After returning home, Hopper instructs his wife Jane (Elizabeth Turner) to wait for him in the house, and walks in front of Mary's window. Later, he admits to the incident and his wish to bite a fellow-human, to his wife. At the hospital, Bukowski and fellow vet Tom (Tony King) get into a fight with the guards, and Bukowski bites the leg of nurse Helen. Dr Mendez calls Jane and tells her that Norman might be experiencing the same symptoms and that she should bring him over to the hospital for a checkup, while he is listening in on the conversation, after which he leaves the house.
The police get the coroner's report on the mall shootout and it contains warnings of cannibalism. At the same time, Jane meets Dr. Mendez, who has been trying to seduce her before. They are at a fancy piano bar, where he explains to her that the virus causes a biological mutation, due to psychic alteration. Norman voluntarily goes to the hospital and talks to a doctor about his symptoms and his well-founded suspicions on Dr. Mendez' intentions with his wife. The doctor also takes a blood sample.
At the police station, the bitten constable shoots a fellow cop, bites another cop and ends up shot by Captain McCoy. Norman comes across his sedated fellow vets Charlie and Tommy. He experiences a flashback to the initial incident where he got bit by an infected POW. The doctor gets attacked by Helen while inspecting Hopper's blood sample. First she bites off his tongue and then she bashes his head in with a rock. In an ambulance the bitten cop gets aggressive before she dies. In the hospital, Helen frees Tommy and Charlie. Norman kills a staff member who tries to notify the authorities.
Norman, Helen, Tom and Charlie leave the hospital in an ambulance. Jane returns to an empty house and searches for Norman when the phone rings and Dr. Mendez notifies her that Norman disappeared. The police are on high alert and looking for the escapees. The escapees break into a tire shop and find a gun. Charlie uses an angle grinder to slice up a victim. Tom steals a station wagon and the infected leave with a pistol and a bag of snacks.
They get confronted by a biker gang that Charlie already fought at the mall, killing one of their members. After defeating the gang, they run away on foot just as the police arrive on the scene and escape into the sewer. The police coordinate a blockade of the sewer exits in order to trap the suspects. At the Hopper residence, Jane is unable to make a telephone call and goes next door to ask Mary's aunt to use the phone. Mary and her brother greet her and let her use the phone to call Dr. Mendez, but the aunt is nowhere to be seen. The children behave suspiciously and ask her how come her phone is not working, but they let her leave.
In the sewer, Helen gets attacked by a rat just as the cannibals are about to slip away from the police. She ends up being shot along with a cop. Charlie is killed by the police, while Norman is wounded. Tom goes berserk, attacks the police and is killed with a flamethrower. Even with a wounded leg, Norman crawls out of the sewer, steals a car and leaves the scene.
Jane tries to leave the house in her car but cannot start it. As she comes back into the house, she hears strange noises and calls for Norman. She finds him in his dress uniform, telling her to stay away. Norman is hurt and dying, and Dr. Mendez walks into the house. Jane runs over to him, but he bites her as Norman shoots him. Jane points his gun at her own head and two shots are heard just as the police arrive on the scene.
The infected children watch as the bodies are being hauled away. The boy asks Mary if they will be looking for their aunt. Her hand is seen inside the fridge.
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