Cast: Fonna Pura, Manny Muscles, Silk Sehba, Asim Rizwani
Director: Chaudhry Malik Butt Tondwallah
Nutshell: mysterious deadly virus takes civilization to the brink of extinction
Proceedings begin in the darkest corners of Africa in 1920 – The Congo to be precise where we can just make out the putrefying legs of a man whose corpse buzzes with flies attracted by the festering puddles of flesh that was once part of a pair of human legs…it’s a scene not dissimilar to the unsettling opening of Texas Chainsaw Massacre where the stolen corpse is slowly closed in on by the camera The scene shifts to a missionary camp where we see one of the missionaries stirring restlessly in her bunk amidst the deafening sounds of a thousand tropical crickets.
The distressed woman gropes her way into the makeshift toilet to relieve herself and just as she unleashes her bowels she senses that there is a foul presence in the vicinity other than the steaming turd she has just dropped! The woman is increasingly alarmed by some unearthly sounds that appear to be heading in her direction. Moments later she is violently ripped away from the toilet seat, business interrupted, and dragged off thrashing wildly against an unseen assailant. Later, her linp body is dragged off and we see clumps of filthy rotting, putrefying flesh left behind along the floor she had been dragged along.
From that shock opening the action moves into the present day setting of 1979 in some quaint London Suburbia where a patient is being attended to by master surgeon Dr. Drauce House. The patient complains of a vile smelling foot growth that seems to be putrefying and emitting a sickening noxious puss. The doctor masks his alarm by appearing outwardly nonchalant because clearly there is more to the ailment than merely athlete’s foot. Meanwhile we are introduced to Monique, the ageing siren wife of the Dr. who craves his attention yet seldom receives it. Dr. House is increasingly concerned about his patient’s mystery growth as it brings back memories of a horrific deadly outburst he encountered years ago in the Congo valley. After further investigations and several grisly deaths, the doctor discovers that the Bacillus Pestis virus has returned with a vengeance and is threatening to wipe out an entire civilization.
The film is very similar in theme to Outbreak (made 20 odd years after this classic). The movie is way ahead of its time as an allegory for the AIDS pandemic and the worse case scenario in case the virus wasn’t contained. The film made back in 1979 was Bubonic Films most ambitious project at the time. Most of the budget was spent on the lavish make up effects, which were suitably disgusting.
The performances too were top notch with Fonna Pura excelling as the insecure, fading beauty Monique. The theme of the film is a horrifying one clearly influenced by Cronenberg’s Shivers and Rabid. It’s a downer all the way with its depressing, doomsday scenario and the grisly body count and gore effects – yet beneath all the gruesome stuff there is a fairly relevant and important theme trying to make an impression.
Bunion has its stomach churning moments and may not be suitable for the feint hearted and is likely to remain strictly for underground viewing due to its hard hitting, gruesomely depicted and depicted view of the future of mankind. Cheesy, low budgeted, yet dark, disturbing and thought provoking. The film was based on real life outbreak of Bunions in the English countryside during the late 70’s, which was attributed to “ill fitting shoes” and it was noted that one in four persons suffer from wearing such ill fitting shoes. A triumph from the Bubonic stables and a film that managed to predict the horrors of the AIDS crisis that was first reported two years after the film was created in 1981.
Bunion was also perhaps the first that focussed on a subject that became a hot topic in the 90’s with several novels and films using the idea of the deadly Ebola virus from the Congo region. Fonna Pura turns in a career best performance as Monique brilliantly portrays a woman whose best days were well behind her yet she rather tragically and pathetically attempts to cling on to her spent youth, coming across as a wrinkled old hag behaving like a school girl. There are undertones of kinky deviant behaviour in Monique which are given away by her call girls fishnet stockings with massive holes in them as well as her deranged carrot top wig and her trashy chic garbage bag look and stiletto heels. Bubonic never had a finer performer than the unheralded Fonna Pura and Bunion is another feather in her cap.