Plot: Biotek is known to the locals as an agricultural research center, but in truth, the facility develops potential biological weapons. The compound has never had real issues or concerns, but a sudden lock down happens when the system detects dangerous elements have been released. Inside the lab, researcher Tom Schmidt (G.W. Bailey) tries to convince security to release the lock down, but the warning system remains on alert, so she refuses. Meanwhile, the lock down has gained the attention of the local citizens, who have various reactions to the situations. Some want to storm Biotek to allow their loved ones to leave and for lawman Cal (Sam Waterston), he wants to do whatever is best for his small town. Is there a dangerous biological weapon on the loose and if so, will it be contained or unleashed on the world?
Entertainment Value: This is a tense, well crafted slice of medical horror that boasts good atmosphere and a terrific cast. The narrative is a good one and weaves an always interesting tale, but those after a more pure horror experience might be let down, as the scares are minimal. Of course, biological weapons unleashed by accident are quite the fright, but only one section of Warning Sign has threads of traditional horror, with the infected getting into some hijinks. Even so, it will likely to appeal to most genre fans, as it is tense and delivers some thrills, especially as the claustrophobic vibes are turned up over time inside the locked down lab. The panic is well done and effective, while outside, the battle over how to handle the lock down plays out on multiple fronts, as everyone seems to think their approach is the right one. Cal’s common sense, some of the locals taking a vigilante tactic, and Yaphet Kotto’s cool, detached by the book presence ensure the drama outside almost keeps pace with the chaos inside. I still prefer the lab scenes, but I appreciate the care taken to make the conflicts outside hold their own, as they could have been mere afterthoughts. So if you like medical themed thrillers with a dose of horror, give Warning Sign a shot.
The movie has quite an ensemble of talent and thanks to a well written script, even the smaller roles are allowed to flourish here. I am always pleased to see G.W. Bailey on a cast and while he is rather restrained in Warning Sign, he turns in sold work and has some fun moments. I think he shines when he can be on the ruder side of things, so I was glad to see him get a couple chances to do that here. But the lead roles belong to Sam Waterston, Kathleen Quinlan, and Jeffrey DeMunn, all of whom prove to be more than capable in their prominent roles. DeMunn shows a lot of charm and quirkiness, while Waterston and Quinlan give more traditional, but still effective performances. The scenes with Waterston and DeMunn later in the movie are some of my favorite scenes, as the two work well together. The cast also includes Yaphet Kotto, Scott Paulin, and in a small role, Meshach Taylor.
The Disc: Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release looks impressive, a much cleaner, more refined treatment than I expected. The print doesn’t look worn or dated, thanks to a clean source that allows a good amount of fine detail to be present. At the same time, the image looks natural and the inherent grain is evident, so thankfully the visuals haven’t been scrubbed too much. The colors are natural, but bright and contrast is even handed, so no worries there. In terms of extras, director Hal Barwood provides an informative audio commentary track, then returns for a new interview segment, joined by producer Jim Bloom. The disc’s supplements also includes a tv spot, a selection of still photos, and the film’s trailer.
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