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Plague

American film poster
Directed by Edward Hunt
Produced by Edward Hunt
Barry Pearson
Written by Edward Hunt
Barry Pearson
Starring Brenda Donohue
Barbara Gordon
Celine Lomez
Music by Eric N. Robertson
Release date(s) 1978
Country Canada

Plague is a 1978 science-fiction genre film, depicts a genetic engineering accident, a fertilizing bacterium that escapes from a laboratory in Canada. The films is also known internationally as Induced Syndrome (UK), M-3: The Gemini Strain or Mutation (USA).

Plot

The producers, Harmony Ridge Holdings Ltd., have a disclaimer in the beginning, white text on a black background, saying they do not wish to unduly alarm the public, because genetic engineering does hold promise for the human race. Nevertheless, some caution is always important in genetic research.

Dr. Celia Graham (Brenda Donohue) and Dr. Bill Fuller (Daniel Pilon) are genetic engineering scientists at the McNaughton Research Laboratory. They are upset that the potential benefits of genetic engineering are being overlooked, others, such as Dr. Allen Saunders of the Public Health Service (Jonah Royston) are upset that the potential risks are understated.

Dr. Graham is working late when they think she is out and power is turned off. This compromised the negative air pressure safeguard. She realizes that the bacterium she developed to improve plant growth has accidentally killed the test animals. She immediately informs her colleague, Dr. Fuller, and subsequently dies violently. Dr. Fuller advises his wife, Joan (Barbara Gordon) to take their daughter to London at once, but cannot come out and say why. They obey and coincidentally meet Dr. Fuller's colleague Dr. Liebowitz (Joseph Golland), who, as he was leaving the lab, put a baby bird back in its nest, which the mother had built in the air outflow pipe.

It isn't very long before she dies on a school playground, and the kids bury her. Their teacher, Margo Simar (Céline Lomez) calls them back into class, but it isn't long before one dies violently. Margo and her class are taken to the hospital, a quarantine. More children die, and one mother hysterically shouts that it is not the flu.

Margo takes a light bulb from a lamp and manages to sweet talk and stun one of the police (John Kerr). She successfully escapes into the subway and into Metro City (Toronto). Later, the military seals off the hospital. The police distract the military and try to escape, unsuccessfully, and when they fire at the troops, they are quickly killed.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fuller deliberately enters the lab, exposing himself, researching an antidote. Meanwhile, McNaughton's director, Dr. Jessica Morgan (Kate Reid) is with Dr. Saunders at the Public Health Service. Joan Fuller and her daughter land in London and arrive at their hotel. Joan can't reach her husband back at McNaughton and threatens to tell the media if she can't talk to him. But Liebowitz brought the bacteria, now named M-3, to London, and infected them.

Margo gets a submarine sandwich, paying another victim with another Canadian bill. She hitchhikes with a man driving a station wagon (Jack Van Evera). At some point, she distracts him with a vague sexual invitation so that he leaves his keys in the ignition, as she steals his car. She eludes a police car on a one-lane bridge. Eventually, she learns from the car radio that she has inadvertently been responsible for a significant number of infections and deaths, and is urged to surrender to authorities. Instead, she drives off a cliff, and is burned in the wreckage of the car.

Germ samples and experimental drugs are flown by high-speed military aircraft, between the Centers for Disease Control and McNaughton. Dr. Dave McKay from CDC (Michael J. Reynolds) helps Dr. Fuller and others fight M-3, as more and more medicines are tried. The infection has entered the U.S. as well as Canada and Britain. By now, Joan Fuller and her daughter have been quarantined at Knightsbridge Infirmary, and watched one infected person die.

The military seals off Metro City: airports, train stations, bus stations, and roads. A convoy of panicked civilians approaches a Canadian Army checkpoint and start a firefight that doesn't stop until helicopter gunships shoot the cars.

Dr. Morgan and Dr. Saunders have been subsisting on sub sandwiches made by infected people. Dr. Saunders notices he is ill and dying, and tells Dr. Morgan to leave at once. She notes that it is too late. Dr. Saunders asks Dr. Fuller how he his doing. Dr. Fuller says not very well, and realizes that Dr. Saunders is dead.

Some time later, it is Dr. Morgan's turn. Dr. Fuller cannot bear to let her die, too. He has been working on a modified version of M-3 called M-4. It seems to work in tests. Dr. McKay begs Dr. Fuller not to use the M-4 on Dr. Morgan, saying that a certain drug may prove successful, and that M-4 has unknown effects on humans. Dr. Fuller leaves the TV set and administers M-4 to Dr. Morgan, saving her life. Before he crashes from exhaustion, he sends samples of M-4 to the CDC. But Dr. McKay was correct, the medicine worked.

Dr. Fuller wakes up and talks with his wife and daughter in London, who are coming home because they have been successfully treated. But not by the M-4, Dr. Morgan tells him. The medicine worked and the samples he sent were destroyed. Three thousand have died. She continues that they are the only people in the world exposed to M-4, and will remain so. They have been quarantined indefinitely inside the lab, and as she adds, will probably face charges of negligence if they ever do get out. Fuller and Morgan look at the pretty plant Dr. Graham was testing M-3 on. M-3 was a great fertilizer.

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