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Virus (1999) - Blu-ray Review

3 beersNail guns and cyborgs are always a deadly combination.  Ouch.

Toward the end of the 1990s, there were a slew of disaster pictures concerning everything from the end of the freakin’ world to computers losing their shit.  It seemed that everyone wanted to weigh in on Y2K.  Off-screen, people had lost their minds.  My mother was stockpiling cans of corn and beans under her bed.  The nightly news was telling us that our computers were going to fail because of a programming error. 

{googleads}And the major studios wanted to cash in on the paranoia and the fear by recycling the same b-grade flick over and over and over again.  It was an onslaught of ridiculousness that genre fans gobbled up.  Deep Rising, er, I mean Virus is one of those entries.  Disguised as a science fiction tale, the movie begins in space and beams down to the South Seas.  From there on out, it trades mechanical jabs with the horror genre as an entire crew is murdered for spare parts.

If it sounds familiar, well, it is.  Like I said, there were a lot of this types of flicks being dumped upon us at the time.  But not all of these c-grade flicks starred William Baldwin (Flatliners).  Poor forgotten younger brother of Alec, while Backdraft made him a name, he was sadly discarded by a Hollyweird that was otherwise keen on that last name.  Coupled here with Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland in Oscar-winning special effects artist turned director John Bruno’s Virus, Baldwin’s “star” power diminishes quickly.  But, really, what anyone with a recognizable name is doing in a genre b-movie about one tugboat’s crew fateful encounter with alien life aboard a Russian research vessel is anyone's guess.

Virus, a critically panned horror/sci-fi flick, has made its way onto blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory.  Some of you might be scratching your head about this move.  Why in the hell would Scream Factory make the case for this slice of sci-fi to be considered worth reissuing?  Simple reason.  The cult following that has been gathering in the years since its release are quite adamant that the film isn’t the piece of shit it’s been dismissed as.  They also don’t seem to care if it truly is a piece of shit; cheesy fun trumps all.

And that’s true.  Virus is cheesy fun.  Unfortunately, few realized that when it was in the can.

Virus is a b-grade knockoff of almost everything James Cameron did early in his career.  This is interesting considering its being directed by the dude responsible for the effects in True Lies and Avatar.  From Terminator to Aliens, the argument can be made that screenwriters Chuck Pfarrer and Dennis Feldman are indebted to the past glories of those films.  They certainly don’t try to do much of anything different.  Sure the location has changed.  We’re on the South Seas aboard both a tugbot and a Russian research ship, but everything is routine.  And sometimes that's okay. 

Upon the tugboat crew’s discovery that there is only one survivor, Chief Science Officer Nadia Vinogradova (Joanna Pacuła), it is revealed that whatever destroyed the ship was beamed down through the Mir and needs power to keep on doing what it does: KILL.  Thanks to a slew of strange-looking robots being created in an automated fashion deep within the ship, suddenly everyone is a target. 

Curtis has dismissed this film as being complete bullshit.  She says it stinks and they all knew it.  I’m calling foul on her comments.  If she and Sutherland know they were in a shitfest of a flick, then why are they trying to pull off a serious tone?  B-movies require a certain amount of finesse; they both know it as they're both veterans of the genre.  There’s a quality in the acting that must be present and Curtis aims high; too high for her to be so bold in dismissing the film. 

The undeniable truth is that the film isn’t nearly as bad as it’s been condemned as being.  It has solid practical effects and tense scenes of gore and grit.  The flick is both funny and horrific.  It absolutely works and, as seen outside of its release date, seems to fare better than expected.  Sure, it’s not original in its form or function as we’ve seen killer cyborgs time and time again, but it certainly is memorable.  And that’s worth preserving right there.

Its legion of followers ought to be pleased with Scream Factory’s update.  Virus has been downloaded one again.  Will it affect you?


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Virus (1999) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
99 mins
: John Bruno
Writer: Chuck Pfarrer
Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, Donald Sutherland
: Horror
Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, Donald Sutherland.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Destroy or die."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 15, 1999
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 2, 2017
Synopsis: Jamie Lee Curtis faces a new, unstoppable terror in this sci-fi thriller from the producer of Aliens, Terminator 2, and Tremors.


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Virus (1999) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- May 2, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Scream Factory presents Virus on 1080p with a clean transfer that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.  The film is dominated with reds, blues, and greens that absolutely burst with color.  It’s a dark film, for sure, but the costumes are detailed and the simple backgrounds burst with new details and a nice level of clarity.  The robots look crisp and detailed, as well.  Black levels are solid and skin tones are natural.  Shadows are defined and the film has a new depth previously unseen.  Audio wise, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 mono soundtrack is clear and the dialogue is never lost or hard to hear.



  • There are two.  The first is a NEW Audio Commentary With Director John Bruno And Writer Dennis Feldman and the second is with Director John Bruno And Actor Marshall Bell.

Special Features:

Scream Factory has loaded this release with NEW interviews from Bruno, writer Dennis Feldman, and actor Marshall Bell.  We also get new interviews with the special effects creators.  Unfortunately, the cover art is the same.  WHY?!?!  It’s terrible. 

NEW Eye Of The Storm – An Interview With Director John Bruno

NEW Science & Fiction – An Interview With Writer Dennis Feldman

NEW Into The Woods – An Interview With Actor Marshall Bell

NEW Men, Monsters And Machines: The Special Effects Of VIRUS Featuring Interviews With Robotics Effects Designers Steve Johnson And Eric Allard, Special Makeup Effects Artist Joel Harlow And Special Makeup Effects Supervisor: Second Unit Vincent J. Guastini

  • Vintage featurette – Virus: Ghost In The Machine
  • Vintage Featurette – Interviews With Cast And Crew
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery


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Virus (1999) - Blu-ray Review