It can be difficult finding horror films of quality, so allow me to welcome you to your salvation from frustration. “Zena’s Period Blood” is here to guide you to the horror films that will make you say, “This is a good horror. Point blank. PERIOD.”
“Zena’s Period Blood” focuses on under-appreciated and hidden horror films.
Hiko: “Touch it again; I’ll cut your hands off.”
Richie: “I can respect that.”
This little speck of dialogue took place in the 90s, a time of Super Nintendo, colorful fanny packs, and great horror videotapes and DVDs. These are all the things that the dialogue above could be used for if someone ever touched something that was yours. As the youngest of six siblings, I carried that piece of dialogue from the 90s into the 2000s. I reminisce over the little property I had owned, titles like Teenage Space Vampires, Shaolin Dolemite and Varsity Blues. But none of my possessions stood out more than the horror science fiction horror film responsible for introducing me to that dialogue. Therefore, I must present to you—Virus, directed by John Bruno.
The film opens to the Akademik Vladislav Volkov, a Russian research vessel sailing the South Pacific waters as it communicates with the orbiting space station Mir. Everything is cool for like two minutes. Then, a fierce electrical force emanates from space and demolishes Mir before rushing directly to the Volkov. The charge races through the high-tech machines onboard and introduces us to the demise of the crew members. Time passes before the tugboat Sea Star is damaged by typhoon Leiah, forcing the crew to seek salvation aboard the seemingly abandoned Volkov. Navigator Kelly “Kit” Foster (Jamie Lee Curtis), Engineer Steve Baker (William Baldwin), Captain Robert Everton (Donald Sutherland) and others search the ship and find one survivor, Chief Science Officer Nadia Vinogradova (Joanna Pacuła). Her words are little but effective. “It was learning how to kill us.” Ultimately, the crew is introduced to an alien life form, one that can create mechanical fighters from Earth’s machines and humans.
Virus is based off of Chuck Pfarrer’s Dark Horse comic book bearing the same name. My older brother often raves about the comic, while I adore the film adaptation which occasionally and seamlessly jumps between first and third-person viewpoints. This immediately draws you into intense scenes with characters whose existence you fear inhabiting. This movie is also the reason I fear open water, computers coming to life, red dots in the dark, and space. I should’ve known it wasn’t safe for me to watch once I realized Pfarrer partnered with writer Dennis Feldman, known for Species and The Golden Child. Truthfully, I was also deceived by composer John McNeely. He created the music for Holes and Flipper, which convinced me that I shouldn’t be afraid to watch Virus again as an adult. But that’s a lie.
Before directing Virus, John Bruno reveled in the film industry as a visual effects artist, working on titles such as Poltergeist, Ghostbusters, The Abyss, Terminator 2 and much more. There should be no surprise that the visual and practical effects in Virus are brilliant, even by some of today’s standards. Yet, this almost $75,000,000 budget movie only grossed a little over $30,000,000 worldwide. I have no idea why this failed to at least make its budget; however, when I ask others about this film, most have never heard of it. While I do detest this reality, I am pleased to discover that this film has garnered a cult following.
Virus was one of the first movies I saw that infused an alien life form with Earth’s machinery and humans. It blew my mind to see some of the actors I love become these mechanical warriors who turn on their own friends. This is one of many reasons you should watch Virus. It’s exhilarating. It’s fun. And it’s me, ordering you to stop reading and watch the movie. Point blank. Period.
In addition to contributing to Dread Central, Zena Dixon has been writing about all things creepy and horrific for over six years at RealQueenofHorror.com. She has always loved horror films and will soon be known directing her own feature-length horror. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @LovelyZena.