Fukkatsu no hi [Virus] (1980)

(aka Day of Resurrection, The End, Virus: The End)

I suppose it was inevitable.

You can blame Irwin Allen who popularized the genre in the U.S., but it really wasn’t much of a surprise that the Japanese turned out a handful of disaster movies in the Seventies.

Nor was it much of a surprise that their disaster films were more science fictional than their American counterparts.  After all, special effects heavy films are generally considered to form their own genre, Tokusatsu, that is unique to Japan, a genre which also includes Godzilla, Gamera and Ultraman.

But you can’t miss the American influence on this film as it is very long.

And slow.

And full of well-known American stars.

The U.S. version, at about ninety minutes, is actually much shorter than the official runtime, which is about two and a half hours long.  I’m really not sure that helps, though.

This, incidentally, had the dubious distinction of being the most expensive film ever made in Japan.  It was produced by Kadokawa, but ultimately released by Toho, at a point when their Godzilla films had ground to a halt, and they were turning out a few decidedly Tokusatsu disaster films, like Tidal Wave (1974), Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974).  and the truly strange Blue Christmas (1978).

The basic story is that a horrible virus destroys the whole word, except for the handful of people in Antarctica, or those aboard nuclear subs.

Which leads us to what must be the most unscientific piece of utter rubbishy nonsense I have ever heard presented as a purely “rational” plan in any movie at any time.

The survivors are all spread out across the Antarctic continent in their separate research bases, afraid to visit each other for fear that they would spread the routine diseases at each base throughout the entire population of survivors.

So far, so good.

The problem is that these are 1970s scientists, so there are only a few women among them.

This leads the women  to arrive at their “rational” and “scientific” solution:  they set up a roster so every man can have chance to have sex with them.

Excuse me?

There’s so much wrong here it’s hard to know where to start.  This was a common theme in Science Fiction at the time, imagining circumstances in which our traditional sexual morality would have to be set aside for purely scientific considerations.  The results tend towards the ludicrous, however, as in a Star Trek: Next Generation episode in which merging two small colonies by having everyone in both take multiple husbands or wives gets held up as the only wise alternative, despite the fact that one colony consists of multiple copies of Eight people who are already suffering genetic damage from being cloned too often.


Now, in Virus, aside from the truly disturbing notion that a group of woman scientists would decide as a group to go into the sex trade, and the equally uncomfortable assertion that women are nothing more than a commodity which can be rationed in time of emergency.

Decidedly icky.

We also run into these problems:

1. The women have just become a major disease vector.

After all, they will be exchanging bodily fluids with men from all across the continent — and, you’ll note, at a time when the leaders were reluctant to allow any contact between groups.

2. Women cannot bear more than one child every nine months.

No matter how many men have sex with them.

This is called “biology.”

3. Sexual transmitted diseases frequently cause sterility.

Which is a problem if you want to repopulate the Earth.

4. They can also cause serious health problems in the babies those women bear.


And if these problems weren’t a big enough threat to the survival of the human race:

5. Those brilliant scientists will be forced to spend their time making out rather than carrying out the important research which might just defeat the virus and save the human race.

Or, in other words, if we didn’t know that this was such an incredibly rational and scientific plan then we might start thinking that this was the most utterly boneheaded thing anyone might chose to do at that particular moment, and that it would be a lot better if they just paired them all up with a single guy.

Oh, well.  Some science fiction tropes just refuse to die no matter how foolish they obviously are.

And this absurd notion isn’t doing any favor to a film  which is already too long, too grim — and takes itself far too seriously.

So I can’t really recommend this one, except for Toho completists and disaster movie fans.

After all, disaster movies are always a bit ridiculous…

(Watch for free on Tubi)

Buy Japanese version from Amazon (Region 2 — Paid Link):



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