Virus (1999 film)
|Directed by||John Bruno|
|Produced by||Gale Anne Hurd|
|Written by||Chuck Pfarrer
|Based on||Virus, by Chuck Pfarrer|
|Starring||Jamie Lee Curtis
Julio Oscar Mechoso
|Music by||Joel McNeely|
|Edited by||Scott Smith|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|January 15, 1999|
|Box office||$30.6 million|
Virus is a 1999 science fiction action thriller film directed by visual effects artist John Bruno. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland, the film is based on a Dark Horse comic book of the same name by Chuck Pfarrer.
The Russian space station Mir contacts a research ship in the South Pacific, Akademik Vladislav Volkov. While the crews of both ships converse, a large energy source traveling through space strikes the Mir. The electrical surge hijacks the Mir and beams itself down to the oceangoing ship, disabling it. The crew of Mir are killed, while the large research vessel's crew suffer an unknown fate.
Seven days later, during a typhoon, the tugboat Sea Star, captained by alcoholic Robert Everton (Donald Sutherland), loses its uninsured cargo, which was the captain's last chance to get out of debt. Sea Star's crew, led by navigator and ex-Navy officer Kelly Foster (Jamie Lee Curtis) and engineer Steve Baker (William Baldwin) discover the engine room taking on water; Foster suggests that they take refuge in the eye of the storm to make repairs. Everton agrees, but while Sea Star rests in calm waters, he contemplates committing suicide. At the same time, the Akademik Vladislav Volkov appears on Sea Star's radar, and realizing that it could be worth millions in salvage, Everton orders his crew aboard.
Almost all of the ship's electronics are destroyed and most of the wiring is slashed; even stranger, areas of the ship are riddled with bullet holes. They can't find any crew, though, much to Everton's delight (if there were crew he couldn't claim the ship as salvage). Everton orders Steve to go with fellow crewman, Squeaky (Julio Oscar Mechoso) and restore power to the ship. They do so, but immediately, the ship's anchor drops on its own, sinking the Sea Star with deckhand Hiko (Cliff Curtis) and first mate J.W. Woods, Jr. (Marshall Bell) on board. Steve leaves Squeaky to guard the engine room. Squeaky is soon lured to his death by a robotic, spider-like creature. Outside, Woods grabs the flotation device, instead of helping a wounded Hiko. Steve comes to Hiko's rescue.
Afterward, as Foster treats Hiko's leg in the ship's sick bay, a figure in a gas mask bursts out of one of the medical cabinets and fires a Škorpion vz. 61 submachine gun at them. Steve subdues the figure and removes the mask to reveal Chief Science Officer Nadia Vinogradova (Joanna Pacuła), the ship's only survivor. Nadia is hysterical about "it" needing power to travel through the ship. She hits Everton and swings an axe at Foster, who subdues her and takes her to the bridge.
When Squeaky does not respond to Steve's calls, Steve checks the engine room and orders Woods and crewman Richie Mason (Sherman Augustus) to help him. Richie and Woods encounter more strange robots and find an automated workshop producing them. When Richie prods a new machine, it shoots Woods with a nail gun, then the pair are attacked by what appears to be a gun-wielding Russian crew member.
Eventually, Richie and Woods catch up with Steve, who has found the engine room door welded shut. They are suddenly attacked again by the Russian, who is revealed to be a cyborg. Since they already raided the munitions depot, the trio are able to battle the cyborg.
At the bridge, Everton accuses Nadia of being the one who dropped the anchor and sank the Sea Star. He threatens to shoot her but Nadia doesn't care, as long as Everton cuts the ship's power. Realizing this makes no sense as Nadia was hiding in the sick bay, Foster stops him. Woods, Steve and Richie arrive with the apparently dead cyborg and set it on a table; beginning to connect the dots, Foster asks Nadia to tell them what happened. She explains that the electrical energy from the Mir boarded the ship eight days prior, and it was not just energy but a highly intelligent lifeform. It scanned the data on the ship's computers to learn how to kill humans, then started using the ship's machine shops - first, it built the smaller robots. After that it began killing the crew and converting them into cyborgs; the one on the table was the ship's captain and Nadia's husband.
When the eye of the storm passes over and violent seas return, the crew decides to find a way to destroy the creature. They head for the computer room but are ambushed by Squeaky, now converted into a cyborg, and a gigantic robot that kills Woods. The surviving crew flee and barricade themselves in the communications room, where Richie manages to send out a mayday; however, Everton shoots out the communicator, unwilling to let anyone else in on his salvage. Foster punches Everton in the face and removes him from command. Richie comes up with an idea: the alien is electrical and inside the computers, so they can speak to it using a computer. It replies that it is "aware" when asked who it is, then declares that mankind is a species harmful to the body of the whole, a virus (or germs, as Richie says). When asked what it wants, it replies that humanity is only useful for spare parts, which drives Richie insane. He brutally kills the cyborg Squeaky as it breaks into the room, then uses a grenade launcher to escape.
Everton, who stayed behind while the rest of his mutinous crew go find the computer and destroy it, realizes that the alien is interested in him. He tells the alien that he is the "dominant lifeform" and offers to help it in exchange for the salvage. He is told to go to Workroom 14 on the E Deck.
The crew finds the computer room is bare except for a number of the spider robots; the alien moved the computer elsewhere in the ship. Realizing that the ship is moving, they struggle back to the bridge by going outside, where Hiko is lost to the typhoon. Meanwhile, Everton finds Workroom 14 and is let in by one of the robots. He finds the main entity/robot inside controlling other robots and cyborgs mutilating and dissecting a number of the dead Russian crew, including Woods, to create more cyborgs. Impressed with the alien's work Everton bargains with it, and it asks him to help it survive.
Foster identifies Lord Howe Island as the ship's destination. Steve realizes that the alien wishes to reach the island because of the British satellite installation there, which would allow it to beam itself anywhere - or everywhere. The crew agree to sink the ship, but a new cyborg appears in the room - with a Russian sailor's torso and Everton's disembodied head. The cyborg attacks the crew and it declares there is "a whole world waiting out there". Nadia manages to kill Everton by shoving one of the thermite hand grenades into its chest, but the crew realizes time is running out. They decide to sink the ship by flooding the hold with fuel and detonating it.
A bomb is placed in the hold as the crew empty all the fuel tanks. Foster, Steve and Nadia run into Richie, who fled earlier. Suddenly, a giant robot appears and brings down the walkway Nadia, Richie and Steve fall. It captures Foster and tortures her for the location of the bomb's detonator. A fatally injured Richie reveals to Steve that he prepared an escape route in the ship's missile room. Nadia and Steve manage to rescue Foster from the giant robot and Nadia sacrifices herself by shooting a flaregun at nearby gas tanks to kill it, but the majority of the creature survives anyway. As Foster and Steve make it out safely by using Richie's escape route (a jury-rigged ejection seat designed to launch them out and away from the ship), their escape device has also been rigged to trigger an explosion, which finally causes the ship to blow up and sink and the electricity-based alien intelligence to be grounded into the seawater, fatally dispersing it. They are later picked up by a rescue helicopter. (There is a last 'scare' where Foster, as she thinks she's being rescued, is set upon by Hiko <watch the film> as a cyborg - BUT it is quickly revealed to be just a nightmare, from which she's startled awake, to find that they are indeed both safe and sound on the rescue ship.) They share a hug relieved to have survived, as the credits roll...
The ship used as the Akademik Vladislav Volkov was the retired Missile Range Instrumentation Ship USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (T-AGM-10). One of the ship's satellite dish antennas was intentionally damaged for the movie's final scene where the ship was destroyed. Some of the Cyrillic lettering applied for the film was still visible on the hull before it was sunk on May 27, 2009.
|Jamie Lee Curtis||Kelly "Kit" Foster|
|William Baldwin||Steve Baker|
|Donald Sutherland||Captain Robert Everton|
|Joanna Pacuła||Nadia Vinogradova|
|Marshall Bell||J. W. Woods Jr.|
|Sherman Augustus||Richie Mason|
|Julio Oscar Mechoso||Squeaky|
Overall the movie received poor reviews. Based on 47 reviews, the film scored a 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Virus was a flop at the box office, grossing just $30 million worldwide against a budget of over $75 million.
Jamie Lee Curtis herself also did not think highly of the movie. In an IGN.com interview, Curtis had the following to say about Virus: "That would be the all time piece of shit...It's just dreadful... That's the only good reason to be in bad movies. Then when your friends have [bad] movies you can say 'Ahhhh, I've got the best one.' I'm bringing Virus." 
A line of action figures, the Virus Collector Series, was developed by ReSaurus to promote the film. The line included figures of Foster, Baker, Richie, Captain Everton, Captain Alexi, Squeaky and the Goliath Machine (the Goliath set also included a Nadia figure). The captains and Squeaky were built with their cyborg implants, with parts included to restore their human appearance. All of the sets, excluding Goliath and Nadia's, included one or more firearms for their figure. Goliath also featured three sound clips of his lines from the film. Some of these figures are currently still available from online retailers.
A Europe-only tie-in game, Virus: It is Aware, was also developed and published by Cryo Interactive for the Sony PlayStation. The game is a survival-horror title akin to Resident Evil in concept and to Tomb Raider in control. The game had little to do with the film, apart from the introduction and ending cinematics, which feature creatures infesting a ship and a space station, respectively. The actual game follows a female police officer, Joan, trapped in an infested hotel along with her partner Sutter. The game is generally poorly regarded and has since fallen into obscurity.
- Van, Lawrence (1999-01-16). "New York Times". The New York Times — Movies. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- "NavSource Naval History". NavSource Naval History. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- "Virus (1999) critic reviews". Rotten Tomatoes.
- "Virus (1999) trivia". IMDB.
- Virus at the Internet Movie Database
- Virus at AllMovie
- Virus at the TCM Movie Database
- Virus at Box Office Mojo
- Newport News Daily Press story on scrapping of the USS Vandenberg.