In a small Southern town of the United States, things go terribly wrong when a biological weapon is accidentally set loose on a laboratory and everyone inside is trapped, and turning into insane vicious killers. Among the trapped is security guard Joanie Morse (Kathleen Quinlan, Apollo 13), her husband, Sheriff Sam Morse (Sam Waterston, from those always-playing life insurance programs) goes in with the help of one of the original scientists (Jeffrey DeMunn, The Blob and The Hitcher) and FBI main man Major Connolly (Yaphet Kotto, Alien and Live & Let Die) come in to try to help, before the insane infected people in the laboratory are let loose and destroy their society.
This was one of the last movies in that great cycle of horror films to come out in the first half of the eighties, and features a similar look and production value to the films of the time. Director Hal Barwood is mostly known for directing and writing videogames for LucasArts, particularly those featuring the Star Wars and Indiana Jones characters. This movie often feels like a video game, with it’s entrapped surroundings and characters having to solve scientific puzzles, formulas, having to go through secret doors and such, almost like a precursor to today’s survival horror games. The performances are strong, from good actors as you can see above. They all have great chemistry with each other, although I must admit that I felt that Sam Waterston looks a little, well, lost. Other actors, such as Jeffrey DeMunn (The Thing) and GW Bailey also show up. Surprisingly, GW Bailey is not playing a cop in this film (he was in those awful Police Academy movies) and here plays a scientist, a ‘typhoid mary’ type character who spreads the disease first. They all did a great job.
Not only was this one of the original survivalist horror films and probably inspired the Resident Evil stuff in ways we might not know, but this was also the granddaddy of 28 Days Later and it’s franchise. Hell, we even get to see rabid monkeys fighting and trying to kill each other. This movie is awesome, a truly classic horror movie and comes highly recommended.