Warning Sign (1985)

I remember way back when.  It was a fall evening and I was watching some SHOWTIME or THE MOVIE CHANNEL–probably THE MOVIE CHANNEL, their flicks were sleazier see…and there was a certain Drive-In Theater.  I lived near a US Air Force base.  Real close.  The jets and planes and other shit was always loud as hell.  There was standard bloc housing for the soldiers and there were even missile silos for the love of Bob.  This movie scared the shit out of me.  What if something like that was going on at the base?!  Well I was lucky and soon after I saw the flick the base became a Port Authority cargo entry gateway when the big military contraction happened.  No more shady shit going on next door…no sirreebob…not at all.  Uh huh. Sure….anywho…

It’s five o’ clock at BioTek Agronomics and first shift is packing up to go home.  Unfortunately they have a little bit of a problem.  This high tech lab doesn’t work in agroscience as it purports.  It is a top secret biological research facility for the government’s bacteriological research and one of their small vials with a tiny bug has caused a major problem.  A broken vial of “Blue Harvest” has caused the facility to enact a Protocol One action in order to contain the bacterial outbreak and the small country community is stunned as government agents and soldiers cordon the area under the command of Major Connoly (Yaphet Kotto) who spouts the government cover story.

It turns out Blue Harvest is some exceedingly nasty shit. It incapacitates its victims leaving them in a deathlike state while it works on the brain’s inhibition and rage center (sound familiar?) turning the victim into a cognizant and very violent person.  Sheriff Cal Morse (Sam Waterston) is very concerned about what’s going on in the lab.  He has good reason too.  His hot and pregnant wife Joanie (Kathleen Quinlan) is stuck inside working her minimum wage security position.  He goes off to find help in the form of drunkard ex-scientist Dr. Dan Fairchild (Jeffrey DeMunn) who was the creator of the antidote the military needs.  Dr. Dan also used to be one of the leads on the Blue Harvest project so he knows how bad things are and how much worse they can get.

The good major and his surprisingly limited military resources have to get inside the compound and get the antidote and administer it to the survivors.  With Dr. Dan’s help, they cut into the facility and send in a heavily armed hazmat equipped military response team to get the job done.  They have a camera to document the disaster and give the response leaders a clue as to what has happened within BioTek.  The folks outside do not like what they see at all.  The Blue Harvest Group scientists are all infected and trying to kill everyone in the complex that isn’t.  This includes security babe Quinlan and the other workers holed up in the cafeteria…and the armed team that has infiltrated the site.  The green national guardsmen are no match for the surly scientists even though the former have assault rifles and the latter have fire axes.  

Thanks to the ineptitude of the military-industrial complex, saving the day is left up to the yokel sheriff and the drunken doc.  The two manage to gain entry to the secret lab through an unguarded air duct (these military types are as bad guarding this as Imperials guarding a Death Star).  The two heroes fight their way through the slavering scientists and Dr. Dan begins cooking up a new antidote as he and Cal begin to show signs of infection.  They are close to a cure but something is missing…why is sweet tits not sick…huh…oh yeah…she’s knocked up!  So take the doc’s original antidote and add in some pregnancy factor and whamo!  It’s a cure!  The only problem is now that they are infected the Doc is the only logical guinea pig.  Hope that shit takes effect before the axe wielding nutters show up!

WARNING SIGN is a tightly plotted tale of technological and biological terror that uses its initial moments to set up a feeling of dread and paranoia.  The isolation of the laboratory lends itself to the desperation of the situation and Jeffrey DeMunn’s drunken and reluctant doctor may not actually give a damn what happens to the lab.  Yaphet Kotto is great as Major Connoly who is the distant and uncaring administrative type of officer and Sam Waterston gives a pretty good performance.  Think more KILLING FIELDS than LAW & ORDER and you’ll have a better idea.  Rick Rossovich shows up for a bit part as an unlucky lunkhead.  At least he keeps his shirt on and doesn’t oil up and flex with a miniscule Tom Cruise in this one.  G.W. Bailey is excellent as a facility manager who is nothing like a certain police lieutenant and Richard Dysart is somewhat similar to his role in THE THING.  All in all a great flick.  Oh yeah, the cinematography was by a gentleman named Dean Cundey.  

When WARNING SIGN first surfaced the Cold War, Iran Contra, Reaganoia trickle down machine was in full swing and it serves as a harsh critique of the ever growing military industrial complex. Our nation would never put the never ending quest of contriving the biggest and baddest weapon ahead of the good of the citizens would it? Never…of course not. Sadly the seemingly paranoid supposition of this film may be coming quite true in one way or another as many pieces of mail have to be bombarded with radiation unless anthrax or ricin happen to be a Hallmark card away. I remember when the news, in all seriousness mind you, told me to buy visqueen and duct tape and seal up my house because the terrorists were going to hit the thriving metropolis of Mudsock with a fucking dirty bomb. Every house in the neighborhood looked like it was waiting for the exterminator and 3M stock must have gained a gazillion points. Heed the WARNING SIGN, the military industrial complex is real and it sucks. It sucks your freedom, it sucks your money and it will eventually suck your blood. All I can say is I wish it would suck my dick. 

Fingersnarl out.

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