Virus (1980)

NOVEMBER 14, 2007


Well, I think it’s safe to say that I will never stretch the term “Horror” as much as I did for today’s movie, Virus (like everything else in existence, do not confuse it for the 1998 Jamie Lee Curtis movie set on a boat haunted by robotic spiders). While it certainly SOUNDS horror-y, in reality, other than the somewhat scary notion of the end of the world, this isn’t a horror movie at all. No, it’s more a sci-fi version of Fail Safe or something, with most of the film played out in rooms with lots and lots of cranky old men.

That said, it’s actually a pretty decent movie. We follow the stories of several different groups of characters, many of them played by old school genre faves like George Kennedy and Robert Vaughn. Hell, even Sonny Chiba shows up. True, they are mostly just standing around talking while the unknown/minor stars do all the action stuff, but hey, what are you gonna do?

What was surprising about the film was how much of a downer it is. President Pa Kent and his staff die like 20 min into the movie, and by the end just about everything and everyone else is dead too, giving the film TWO armageddons, so to speak. Also, it’s amazing what stats are given for the survivors: “855 men, and 8 women.” Of course, for the women, this means an incredibly varied selection from whom they can begin repopulating the world, but for the guys – that’s fucking HARSH.

Messiest Oval Office ever.

Apparently, close to 50 min of the film has been removed for this version, most of it dealing with Japan. I would like to see the whole version of the film, not to mention in widescreen format, since the pan and scan job was atrocious at times (see below).

It’s far from a great film, but it’s certainly one of the more professional films in the set. Also, it’s pretty eerie that, in a montage of major cities and their death tolls (displayed onscreen with the lamest titles I’ve ever seen in a film), New York’s number is shown in a shot that begins with a closeup of the World Trade Center.

Favorite line of dialogue: “You gave me a goddamn PLACEBO?!?!?”, yelled by one of the film’s many crusty old guys. Man, I really am gonna miss the Chilling Classics set.

What say you?


  1. The Movie Channel in the early 80's was a bastion for flix like this. I am not sure which version I saw, but the scene with the Japanese in the church is awesome. One of the only other thins I remember is the intricate plan to repopulate..."each woman will spend 6 weeks with each man on a rotating basis...." Other movies viewed on TMC back then: My Bloody Valentine, which is who I went as for sixth grade Halloween, Saturn 3(horror sci-fi?!?!), and, I do not know if this is on video anywhere, but The Beast Within, you have to check that out!

  2. i've never heard of this one but it sounds interesting; i added it to my netflix cue. and hey, it's got chuck conners and henry silva- two genre actors of choice....

  3. here is a true story: last night i was cleaning out my closet anmd found a box with like 100 movie stubs from 1996- 2001 and i found one for "virus" and said, "i have no idea what movie this is".

    thank you for jogging my memory.

  4. The NetFlix version is the 156 minute version if you want to see the whole thing, great movie.

  5. You didn't even mention the Chuck Connors was supposed to be a BRITISH submarine captain, and ruggedly did not even attempt an accent.

    Nor that Edward James Olmos and Elizabeth Hussey are in it. Not to mention Bo Svenson and Robert Silva ("Bullshit, or not?"). Really an all-star cast.

    I felt like this was the disaster flick to end all disaster flicks--not one (virus), not two (earthquake), but THREE (nuclear holocaust) world-ending scenarios. Crazy.

    Remind me--didn't they institute the 6-week sex-rotation after one of the women gets raped? Yeah, way to address personal safety concern, George--"we'll still let everyone use you, just in an orderly fashion."

    I'm guessing the raggedy guy in the opening titles (who never appears again) is the lone Japanese survivor after it's all gone kablooey. The 50 mins extra would likely explain, but I'm not sure I have the stamina for that.

  6. ooooh the beast within! it was christmas time i think and i was maybe 6/7 or 8 and my family was staying at my mother's older sister's house. my cousin who was many years older than me had many issues of either starlog or fangoria. there was an article on beast within. to this day i trace that experience as the beginings of this here love affair.
    by the way, beast within, available on netflix; not that good and not that bad--how can you hate werelocusts?

  7. Favorite scene:


    but not very well.


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