Terminal Virus (1995)

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Perhaps you can help me, dear reader – I need a new term for a film where the first thing you see is boobs. Boobception maybe? If you have any ideas, please let me know. What boobceptions always are, is classy entertainment, and that’s certainly the case here, where the boobs in question belong to a young lady being chased through an arid landscape by a filthy lunatic. Yes, it’s more of that 90s post-apocalyptic action we’ve come to know and love, with its brown landscapes, rags-for-clothes, shoddily patched up cars, and so on.

 

This, at least, tries to put a fresh spin on the situation. 23 years ago, a great war of some sort ended with a chemical weapon of unusual hideousness – a virus that means any time men and women have sex, they both die. This has led to forced celibacy, and the entirety of humanity appears to be represented by a camp of guys and then, relatively nearby, a camp of women. Rather shockingly, the potential rapist and the woman involved are both killed by their respective communities, so you can tell the stakes are very high; but on their way back from killing the guy, the group of men (led by all-time great movie villain Richard Lynch, as “Calloway”) happen upon a perfectly preserved pre-war “outpost”. This outpost is small neat houses, and a few low buildings, and for absolutely no reason at all, Calloway and his men break the fence down and kill everyone.

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However, one person was away from the base, catching snakes; he’s Joe Knight (Bryan Genesse, “Screwballs 2”, “The Circuit”). With his dying breath, Joe’s Dad tells him to go down into the basement, which is a huge scientific complex, and there he finds a cure for the virus! His big plan is to find a man and a woman, give them the antidote and persuade them to have sex, they won’t die, everyone will be impressed and peace will reign. He has a friend in this mission – McCabe (James “husband of Barbara Streisand” Brolin), a wisecracking nomad who we first meet escaping from a Calloway-led execution. They kidnap a woman from outside the female camp, and for some reason which was presumably explained in a piece of dialogue I didn’t listen to, McCabe can’t have sex with her – luckily, one of Calloway’s goons is captured trying to break in, so he’s chained to the lovely lady and they’re both plied with champagne and romantic music.

 

As you may have guessed, it goes a bit silly around this point. For a bleak future with tons of murder, it’s awfully light-hearted! Perhaps Brolin turned up and went “hey guys, I’ve written a load of jokes, can I put them in the movie?” and no-one had the heart / guts to tell him no. While he’s not an A-lister, he’s a bit too big a name to be in trash like this so his influence could have been large.

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So, aside from Brolin, you’ve got Genesse as a naïve type (he’s one of the only children born after the virus, and despite being 32 at the time of filming and looking every day of it, plays a man of 20) and plenty of strong support. It’s a weird thing to say about a cheesy low-budget 90s movie I’d never even heard of until I picked it up for this review, but there are no super weak links in the cast.

 

But there are plenty of weak links. First up is just kidnapping a woman to procreate with, “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers” style. It’s really very oddly done, and her falling in love with Genesse, while inevitable, is just the crappy icing on the awful cake. There’s the sheer number of double-crosses and “hey, can you unlock these handcuffs so I can use the toilet – whoops, I’m running off” scenes that make you want to slap several of the main characters too.

 

Worst of all, I think, is the big fight, as the women (who, it turns out, were amenable to a decent argument and didn’t need to be fought with) take on the men who are trying to blow up the laboratory and ensure the serum is destroyed for ever. Actually, why is Richard Lynch so desperate to never have sex again? Does he like ruling over a gang of rough-looking guys that much? Anyway, the fight is almost unbearable, going on for ever. In a movie that’s only just over 70 minutes long, having one fight scene go on for what feels like 20 minutes is a no-no. And if you’re really willing to go deep, hundreds of guys die in that scene and not a single woman, yet there’s still dozens of guys alive to be captured at the end. You never see more than…ten men with Lynch, but at least 50 of them get offed in that battle. Genesse, as we fans of trash know, has legit martial arts skills, but fights like an idiot until the very last scene, when suddenly he busts out a bunch of sweet roundhouse kicks. What?

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It’s very short for a “proper” B movie, so I wonder if they ran out of money. That explains the extreme length of the gunfight, as they used every bit of footage they had, and the way the last scene feels a bit tacked on. Or perhaps it’s just why director Dan Golden is now better known as a stills photographer (didn’t realise there was a career in that, in the movies); or we could look at how this is the sole credit for two of its three writers. Ah, I don’t know. Brolin is fun if a little too over the top with the wisecracks, Genesse is fine, it’s sort of a cool idea, just executed pretty poorly.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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