This week's VHS is Bill Rebane's 1978 killer virus flick The Alpha Incident.
An organism brought back from Mars infects a group of people in a railway station.
With flu season upon us, I thought it fitting to revisit a movie I haven't seen since my Major Video days. I pretty much only remembered the big effects piece in the movie and it didn't even go down how I recalled it. As a movie, The Alpha Incident wears its lack of budget on its sleeve as the majority of the movie takes place in one room, as faraway scientists search for a cure.
I found myself frustrated with the characterizations here, as apart from straight arrow Dr. Sorensen (Stafford Morgan), everyone is rather insipid or exaggerated and certainly not the kind of folks you'd want to spend your last moments with. Perhaps most disappointing was how useless the only female character was, as Jenny (Carol Irene Newell) goes from fairly meek to sneaking off to snog the wholly unappealing Jack (John Goff) for no real reason other than perhaps the filmmakers needed a flash of skin.
|If you look up LEER in the dictionary...|
I've always found the movie's hook of a virus that only kills you once you fall asleep really interesting – it was most of the reason I wanted to re-watch it – but I sure wish they'd had the funds to fully realize this idea. You only get to see the effects once, well twice if you count the poor lab rat earlier in the movie. The Alpha Incident also concludes how you would expect though I did have to rewind it because it's executed very strangely. I couldn't tell if the production just couldn't afford squibs or they were inferring that they also brought back ray guns from Mars, as well.
|If Don Draper had been a bio-chemist...|
As you know, I'm not one for remakes, but if there's one that could use a second go-round it's this one. I assume The Alpha Incident was a low budget riff on Robert Wise's The Andromeda Strain, but if you happen to be looking for alternate seventies virus-on-the-loose yarns, I'd go with George A. Romero's 1973 picture The Crazies, or even Ed Hunt's Canadian tax shelter effort Plague from 1978.