October 30th, 2014

PANDEMIC (2007) **

A surfer dude catches a rare strain of the flu in New Zealand before hopping a plane to Los Angeles. He dies onboard the plane and once it lands, the rest of the passengers are quarantined. One person escapes the quarantine zone and winds up infecting most of LA in the process. It’s then up to Tiffani Amber Thiessen and her team to contain the disease and stop a potential outbreak.

This made for TV miniseries clocks in at nearly three hours. There’s enough decent stuff here to warrant an acceptable 90 minute movie, but at three hours, it’s just too much to bear. On the plus side, it’s competently made, and the acting is probably better than the whole enterprise really deserved.

The great cast certainly helps ensure you’ll be watching until the very end. Eric Roberts has a number of good moments as the mayor of Los Angeles. He gets a great scene where he gives a press conference and slightly lowers his red tinted sunglasses while addressing the members of the press. Bruce Boxleitner is also solid as Roberts’ right hand man, and Faye Dunaway is fun to watch as the governor. The most fun though comes from seeing Kelly from Saved by the Bell in perfect make-up and wearing a series of sexy low cut tops while organizing a city-wide quarantine of a deadly virus.

Directed by Armand (He Knows You’re Alone) Mastroianni, Pandemic delivers on all the stuff you’d expect to see in a Deadly Outbreak Movie. Scenes of guys in biohazard suits and people coughing up blood abound. Mastroianni also gives us a fairly gory autopsy scene too (especially considering this was a TV movie). He even tries to recreate the germs-traveling-from-a-cough scene from Outbreak (except this time on a plane, not in a movie theater), although it’s not nearly as effective.

Unfortunately, there’s a bunch of stuff here that doesn’t work. The subplot about a criminal breaking out of the quarantined area and kidnapping the doctor in charge could’ve easily been scrapped. The scenes of his crew selling the cure to the flu on the street like drug dealers are goofy too. There’s also another subplot involving a bunch of redneck militia members that further bogs things down.

If this was just a 90 minute flick involving Thiessen working with Roberts and Dunaway to contain the disease, it would’ve been pretty good. Because of the inflated running time and the useless subplots, you’re in for a long, restless sit. Still, any fan of Roberts or Thiessen’s cleavage will want to give it a go.

Tomorrow’s Bargain Bin Horror Movie: Silent Predators!