I picked this one up on a recommendation from a gentleman at Poker Industries who happened to be at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors. He said that this film was saturated with gore and violence, and I would enjoy it if I was a fan of Asian shock films. So far Mr. Poker Industries is batting a thousand, because Ebola Syndrome definitely lived up to its recommendation.
Pitted in 1986 during the height of viral outbreak in the world, we open with a mother sending her daughter Lily to play out on the street. No sooner do the credits role than we see the mother and the “uncle”, Kal, getting it on in the family kitchen. Unfortunately, Kal can’t finish the deed as he’s interrupted by his boss and a henchman. After a swift beating by the boss and his cronie, Kal is pissed on by the woman he was fucking. In a fit of rage he manages to stab the henchman in the balls, kill his boss with a folding table and cut out the woman’s tongue for squealing on him. He then grabs Lily and douses her with gasoline, intent on setting the small child on fire. Luckily, a neighbor stumbles through the doorway and Kal must abort the final stage of his multiple homicide.
Cut to South Africa, 1996, where Kal has relocated and established a life as a chef in a restaurant. Still obsessed with the beating he took at the hands of his former boss, Kal holds a grudge against any person that he feels “bullies” him. So we get to see what kind of real scumbag this guy is by watching him womanize, spit in food and masturbate with raw meat as he watches his boss fuck his wife. A real keeper, right? Well, poor luck for Kal as he catches a bit of the Ebola Virus when he rapes a tribeswoman found river side at the site where the restaurant buys their meat. Luckily for him though, he survives the virus and is the one in ten million that can operate as a carrier of the virus with no ill effects. This is the point in the movie where it becomes very nasty, yet very entertaining. You see, due to Kal’s vengeful disposition, he has no quarrels regarding dispatching his bodily fluids (in all forms) all over the restaurant, and eventually the general population.
During the stint in South Africa, Kal and Lily cross paths as she is now grown up and a flight attendant on a Hong Kong airline. Lily knows that her parents’ killer is afoot when she experiences a severe case of nausea upon visiting the restaurant that Kal works in. Coincidentally, Kal goes into a fit of rage that same night and kills his boss, the boss’ wife and the boss’ cousin. Now a fugitive, Kal flees South Africa to his homeland to seek refuge. Returning to the mainland, Lily soon finds out that the fugitive Kal has also returned to start his life over, and she seeks the help of a police detective to apprehend the murderer. However, nobody is aware that Kal carries the Ebola virus and has the potential to start an epidemic.
Ebola Syndrome sports some pretty nice splatter effects, similar to Dead Alive and Dawn of the Dead. There is a symphony of blood spitting, convulsions and the occasional violent outburst that produces a head smashing or affliction of the sort. Thumbs up to the production for doing extensive research on the side effects and mannerisms of persons affected by the virus, as the contaminated scenario is represented in a genuine replication.
The film is re-mastered in a widescreen format which makes for easier reading of the white letter subtitles. Unfortunately, the transition left the film a bit grainy, but on the flipside it adds to 70’s slasher feel the movie generates. In the area of DVD special features, this title is severely lacking. Offering up the paltry scene selection and trailers, there’s nothing left to explore on the disc, which is disappointing, considering the effort put forth in the film’s subject and content.
Ebola Syndrome is not a terrifying movie by any stretch, but offers more of a comical twist on the whole epidemic scenario. The way in which the main character Kal is treated throughout the movie is the richest source of comedy, but humor can also be found in the sudden and shaky reactions of other Ebola sufferers. Ebola is a nice addition to any Asian horror fan’s collection because of its heightened level of gore and exceptional violent outbursts. It pales in comparison to movies like Battle Royale and Ichi, but offers up a wonderful alternative when you’ve seen the prior two movies for the hundredth time.