Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

DVDs
cover art

Virus X

Director: Ryan Stevens Harris
Cast: Sibyl Danning, Jai Day, Domiziano Arcangeli, Joe Zaso, Dylan Vox, Sasha Formoso

(US DVD: 1 Feb 2011)

You will likely ask yourself a number of questions while watching Virus X, questions like, “was there some sort of apocalypse they aren’t telling me about?”, “Are they in a former Soviet republic?”, “Wouldn’t they do science better in a lab instead of the dank, sweaty basement of what appears to be an abandoned garbage bag factory”, and perhaps most importantly, “What’s the deal with the self-mutilating albino?”  Those are the biggies, but other prominent inquiries will include “What the hell is going on?” and “Why the hell am I watching this?”


Watching Virus X is a lot like watching a Nine Inch Nails video from the mid-‘90s.  There is a great deal of writhing about on the floor and jerking back and forth with the film sped up, all superimposed over awkward proto-industrial set pieces. The movie is essentially a low-budget Rec knock off, where a group of scientists are trapped in their “lab” after the aforementioned self-mutilating albino shoots a kidnapped prostitute in the head and sprays them with her blood, which is infected with an ultra-virulent strain of the H1N1 virus. 


As it turns out, an evil scientist and a rich lady have been attempting to engineer a pandemic for their own financial gain.  Viruses A through W weren’t intense enough to suit their evil needs, but that Virus X, the one they infected the abducted street walker with, watch out, that one’s a dozy.


Virus X is alternately incredible and atrocious.  Of course the word incredible must be qualified.  This is “incredible” in the way that Saturday night, made for Syfy movies are incredible, the way that Mega Python vs. Gatoroid and Sharktopus are incredible.  There is no attempt at acting or story or, you know, logic, and the script was written by someone whose medical expertise goes no further than an article from the morning paper, but that didn’t stop Virus X from getting made and being unleashed upon the world.


Virus X starts out simply bad, but soon descends into full-blown manic state that borders on psychosis.  Characters are having sex while dying, stumbling around, bleeding from their eyes, and ranting against their captors, but not actually doing anything to try to escape or save themselves.  At some point Virus X becomes one of most absurd things you’ve ever seen.  Is this high surrealist performance art that is too far ahead of its time and will only truly be appreciated generations from now? or simply a god-awful attempt to cash in on the viral movie craze?  Odds are it is the latter, but a convincing argument can certainly be made for the former, as well. I’m just not the one to make it.


The bonus features on the DVD are comprised of interviews with cast and crew, and are just as insane and nonsensical as the actual film.  A squeaky-voiced extra-from-a-soft-core porno (spoken by someone who was apparently Miss World 2008, whatever that means) conducts the interviews.  Like the movie, you’ll watch this thing unfold on the screen in front of you without being able to make any sense out of it at all.


This entire package, the movie, the extras, everything, is indeed a spectacle to behold.  As a movie Virus X is really, really awful, but completely, and unequivocally nuts.  Connoisseurs of lunacy and the bizarre will want to check this out, but everyone else needs to stay back, it’s better that way.

Rating:

Extras rating:

Brent McKnight lives in Seattle, and is working feverishly to finish his degree in creative writing through the University of New Orleans Low-Residency MFA Program. His thesis is a post-apocalyptic, zombie, spaghetti western, much to the chagrin of most of his advisors. He likes dogs, beards, and Steven Seagal, and rants about movies at thelastthingisee.blogspot.com and BeyondHollywood.com. Recently he fulfilled a lifelong goal, appearing as an extra in a zombie movie.


Media
discussion by

Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.