Movies from the Black Lagoon: Virus

Movies from the Black Lagoon
Virus- 1982, Unrated
By Tom Doty

A team of scientists, doctors, and politicians race to save the planet's population when a super flu gets loose with the power to turbo boost all known viruses.
The Japanese film industry rivals ours for making box office bread out of disaster flicks. This one is a true epic that details a global disaster that pits an international cast against some pretty heavy issues as they try to survive an earth wide catastrophe.
The story gets started when a group of thugs steal a vial of MM88. Despite being named after a candy that melts in your mouth it is a nasty mama-jama that can turn any known virus into a killing machine. Unfortunately the well-organized bad guys failed to engage the services of a pilot who could handle turbulence and the plane crashes. Sadly the canister carrying MM88 also smacks open and the tragedy begins.
The first victims are sheep from Russia. Soon massive numbers of people get sick all around the world. Despite the fact that Russia gets it first the plague becomes known as 'the Italian Flu." I don't think this is any kind of statement, it's just the result of condensing a three-hour movie into a ninety-minute rental.
In America our president finally realizes that the virus was our fault when a scientist rats out the General who made him do it. It doesn't help matters any to have someone to blame as everyone on Capitol Hill succumbs. The disgraced General gets the last laugh and hangs in long enough to be out in charge. His only act is to arm a system that will nuke the earth if D.C. is attacked and this proves fatal.
Meanwhile labs in Antarctica are safe, as the virus can't survive there. This brings several communities together which represent a small cross section of the world's population. Their first act is to refuse entry of a submarine afflicted with the virus. They then proceed to the crux of their problem- repopulating the world with 8 women and over 800 men. It is suggested that the new world rethink its attitude towards monogamy and the new sexual revolution is on.
The party comes to a crashing halt when a scientist reveals an earthquake will soon level D.C. and accidentally instigate the nuclear counter measures. It is up to one scientist and a weary soldier to save the day but they will have to expose themselves to the virus and give up their new home just as the fun was beginning.
This is a great time waster but it is hampered by brutal editing from the original cut (which can be found on-line for those willing to search cult DVD sites). The film gets a big boost from an intelligent director, Kinji Fukasaku, who was a master at making genre films with meat on their bones. He got his start doing crime films in the 70's and ended his 60 year career making the excellent 'Battle Royale" which depicted a harsh future where teens were randomly picked to fight to the death on a Government controlled island. He was also an International threat who could work anywhere. He directed the Japanese scenes for "Tora, Tora, Tora" and could handle a huge cast and multiple locations. here he assembles Glen Ford, Chuck Connors, Henry Silva, Robert Vaughn, and Sonny Chiba. he actually shot scenes in Antarctica, Japan, and Chile. He was a passionate man who cared about where we were headed as a global culture and this film(among many others in his resume)carries a grim finale that hopefully will serve as a wakeup call.
Best Line: "The United States had no particular monopoly on idiots."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.