Violence is contagious!
It is a Troma trademark: tracking down obscure little movies, most involving copious bloodshed and unsheathed bosoms aplenty, and releasing them on DVD for those not fortunate enough to have rented them at your century-old local video store. Where the Troma Team unearths these offerings from is beyond me, but they certainly seem tapped into the celluloid sewer. Most of these flicks that get the Troma Treatment are dismissible as late-night junk food, but once in a while the studio presents something of a departure. Hence, Viral Assassins.
Facts of the Case
Troma unleashes this decidedly un-Troma-like release, a story of the near future where a deadly disease is running rampant through the population. In order to combat the contagion, the government mandates it a crime, punishable by death, to carry the disease. To enforce this decree, Health Net (responsible for tracking virus victims), sends out highly trained elimination squads to dispatch the disease-carriers.
The problem is these professional hunters take to the killing part of their job with a little too much gusto. This is revealed when three such professionals—Billy, Bobby, and Sidney—congregate in a motel room to relax and pop open a bottle of the bubbly. There they trade, with relish, tales of their killing sprees.
Sidney relates his enjoyable romp through the woods in pursuit of an infected offender, one who has a connection to him. Happy with his hunting skills, Sidney takes his audience step-by-step through his execution of the man, not shy to pat himself on the back for a job well done.
Billy, harboring a feeling of animosity towards the arrogant young gun, rattles off his impressive track record, which includes the merciless elimination of a child under a swing-set (!)
Yet when the veteran, Bobby, recounts his most recent exploit—a run-in with a former government employee who has astonishing news about a possible vaccine—it is revealed that the hardened killer has made a choice that will alienate him from his job and his cohorts.
What, no naked breasts? No exploding ribcages? No urinating on other people's faces? And where's Ron Jeremy?! This can't really be a Troma movie, can it? Troma fans expecting a dose of trash they've come to love will surely be disappointed by Viral Assassins. But on its own merits, I will say that the movie, while by no means memorable, didn't drive me to self-immolation.
Like most of these Troma reissues, be wary of the film description on the back of the case. I quote:
You won't believe your eyes when you see which weapon-loving, trigger-happy assassin the government chooses to snuff out. The results are mind-bending and explosive.
Ah, no. It's not quite mind-bending and really not explosive so much as it is, well, predictable. Basically, you have three jerks hanging around a motel room drinking alcohol and talking trash. Interwoven are scenes of their "viral assassinations," but Robert Larkin, the director, goes for a more cerebral approach to the violence, which is decidedly un-Tromatic.
The acting is beyond lousy. Like laughable lousy. I have a fairly high threshold for crappy acting, especially in the B-movie realm, but the craft on display here was abysmal (the award for worst performance goes to "Brad," the hapless bellhop who utters the film's penultimate line.)
At the core of the shoddy production values, abhorrent line-delivery, and ultra-slow pacing beats the heart of a relatively decent little sci-fi flick. The plot twists are not that dramatic, nor entirely unforeseen. Some scenes, though, are effective (Sidney conversing with his recently slain target in the bathroom, springs to mind.)
The film becomes too blunt as it unravels, hammering home the point that violence becomes the more contagious killer than the virus. We get it—these guys like shooting things.
The picture is really bad, not a surprise when you look at similar movies Troma has exhumed from the past. The picture is full-frame and sound is muffled. Bonus features, usually a real kudos-winner for Troma, are limited to some trailers and credits and a book spot. Snooze…
Die-hard fans of conspiracy/apocalyptic sci-fi flicks may get a kick out of this, if not just to add another notch to their belt of viewed genre movies. Troma fans expecting the usual assortment of debauchery will leave sad. The rest of you, go ice fishing or something.
All actors are hereby ordered to attend The Dustin Diamond School of Remedial Acting. Court adjourned.
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