Thursday, November 18, 2010

#104. Virus (1980)

Directed By: Kinji Fukasaku

Starring: Masao Kusakari, Tsunehiko Watase, Isao Natsuyagi

Tag line: "The entire world is a graveyard"

Trivia: The production of this film gained some norotiety when a Swedish ship, the MS Lindblad Explorer, transporting a production unit to Antartica for location shooting, struck a submerged reef and almost sank

I first saw director Kinji Fukasaku's Virus (aka Day of Resurrection) one autumn afternoon in the early 80's when it played on cable TV, and I was totally blown away by it. Its story, though admittedly bleak, pulled me in immediately, as did its it's post-apocalyptic settings. I couldn't wait for the movie to re-broadcast so I could videotape it.

Alas, it never did play again; that afternoon was the final scheduled airing for the month, and then the movie was gone for good. I can't tell you how exciting it is to finally see Virus again (and in it's uncut, 155-minute original version to boot).

A plane carrying a genetically engineered chemical weapon crashes, releasing what turns out to be a terrible virus into the air. This deadly germ soon sweeps the globe, killing everyone in its wake. Because the virus slows down in colder temperatures, those military personnel stationed in Antarctica (as well as the crew of a British nuclear submarine) make up the majority of the survivors. Led by U.S. Admiral Conway (George Kennedy), this multi-national group decides to start anew, and form their own society. But the revelation that another secret weapon exists, one that will destroy all of Antarctica if it is unleashed, forces Japanese scientist Yoshizumi (Masao Kusakari) and U.S. Army Major Carter (Bo Svenson) to brave the virus and return to Washington D.C. to shut the threat down.

The scope of Virus is just incredible; over the course of the film, we visit damn near every corner of the globe, from East Germany and Italy to Tokyo, Washington D.C., Antarctica and South America. And the cast is positively gargantuan: Bo Svenson, Glenn Ford, Sonny Chiba, Olivia Hussey, Masao Kusakari, George Kennedy, Chuck Conners (attempting, and failing at, a British accent), Edward James Olmos, Robert Vaughn, Henry Silva, and dozens more. There's something for everyone in Virus, with elements of drama, romance, tragedy, adventure, horror and sci-fi mixed into it's tale of post-apocalyptic survival.  

And yet, despite its various attributes, the most impressive thing about Virus is that it is never overwhelming; all of its elements work in perfect unison, blending together beautifully despite the many different directions in which its story branches off. 

Virus was a global effort in every possible sense, and the filmmakers bit off a lot when putting this movie together, but, as it turns out, never more than they could actually chew.

1 comment:

@roddiranks said...

Started watching this a few times back in the day and never could get into the low production values and poor quality VHS,looking forward to tracking down a decent copy of uncut version @roddiranks