Outbreak

A present day drama, Outbreak tells of the risks of man's intrusions into rain forests which expose humans to deadly diseases. Native monkeys in the Congo have been immune to these deadly diseases for centuries inasmuch as their bodies have formed antibodies. Because of this, they quickly pass this "Motaba" disease on to humans, which causes a rapid-moving, fatal epidemic. Outbreak shows the desperate search to find an antidote. Our story opens in the Motaba River Valley, Congo-Kinshasa, Zaire in 1967. We see a village of people and missionaries looking up at DC-3 planes, awaiting long overdue medication for a virus that is quickly becoming an epidemic. Instead, these planes release napalm bombs, destroying the village on impact. This is the government's way of containing any deadly disease. It is now present day, once again in Motaba River Valley, Congo and a rain forest is being destroyed by tractors and chain saws. In the next scene, we see a black and white colobus monkey, with his female mate, jumping up and down and baring teeth. During this scene, a helicopter flies overhead and the monkeys look up. In the meantime, Dr. Sam Daniels is bathing his two St. Bernard dogs in a tub. On the phone is Sam's superior, Billy Ford, from the Center for Disease Control, notifying Sam that he is needed immediately in Congo, Zaire to investigate a deadly disease which is killing people in hours. Monkeys watch the sky as Sam and his team are helicoptered into the village where the epidemic is reported. The bodies are stacked in piles as the people quickly die. The team learns that everyone who has contacted the disease drank water from the well. For this reason, they feel it is not contacted through the air. As they prepare to leave, we see monkeys playing in the jungle. A net is thrown over one of them as it rises into the air. Later, we see a man feeding a caged monkey a banana. Once Sam and his team have returned to the States, more tests are taken and they learn that this disease attacks the blood cells which causes the quick, but painful death. They also learn that this disease is another form of "Motaba", which reached epidemic portions during 1967. Meanwhile, in Cedar Creek, a small town in the Northwest, in a lab, we see a man on a forklift moving a monkey in a cage. Various cages of different animals are positioned in the background. Jim is the man responsible for delivering this smuggled monkey to a friend's pet shop. The monkey is intended as a mate to a female already in the pet shop. The monkey in the cage has a baby bottle with water in it. When Jim takes the monkey out of the car, it spits water on him. As Jim walks into the pet shop, there are animals in the background such as parrots, hamsters, fish, rabbits, cats, rats and other birds. As Rudy, the pet store owner, takes the monkey out of the cage, it scratches him. Rudy decides that the monkey is too wild and tells Jim to take it away. Jim takes the monkey out to the woods and releases him. Jim is on a plane home when he starts to feel sick. He takes a bite out of a cookie and puts it back on the plate. A little boy next to him eats the rest of the cookie. When Jim arrives home in Boston, he and his fiancee passionately kiss. Back at the pet store, Rudy is sick and falls over several fish tanks which fall to the ground and break with the fish still in it. In the lab, one of Sam's team members drops a vial of the contaminated blood, which spills all over him. Robbie, Sam's ex-wife is also with the Center for Disease Control and has been assigned to this case as well. She flies to Boston to examine Jim, who is in his last stages of the disease. In the meantime, Jim's fiancee, Alice, is also sick and in the hospital. After Jim has died, Robbie does an autopsy on him. She finds that all of his internal organs have liquefied. Back in Cedar Creek, a man in a movie theater coughs up some spit and falls over in convulsions. Nearby in the forest, we see the monkey who is still loose wandering around in nearby residential areas, contaminating anything in front of him. We now know that this disease is airborne. Hundreds of people are hospitalized already, with more on the way. The town is put under quarantine with strict instructions to let nobody in or out of the town. The news has spread that this disease could kill the entire country within 48 hours. The entire town is in an uproar. It's like a war zone, as people attempt to escape, only to be bombed by helicopters over head. The Red Cross has tents set up for the sick to await their death. Throughout the town, the army quarantines people in their own homes. The doors are marked. Bodies in bags are sent to a building where they are burned. In the meantime, Robbie goes over to the pet shop where the fish tank has spilled and broken. The store is abandoned, but a monkey lay still in his cage. He appears to be dead. Robbie quickly takes the monkey who is barely alive, in the cage back to the laboratory. It is at this time we learn that Sam's superior, Billy and his superior, Major Salt discuss making "a clean sweep" of the town. In other words, they want to bomb the town as they did in Zaire years before. Sam and his team protest and go about trying to locate the host -- the carrier of this disease. A little girl in a nearby residence, has made friends with the monkey and plays with it daily. Her parents watch television and see a picture of the monkey for whom they are looking. They contact the FBI, and Sam and one of his team members, take off in a helicopter to capture the monkey. By this time, unaware of the location of the monkey, the President of the United States orders the town of Cedar Creek to be destroyed. Sam and Salt are able to capture the monkey after shooting it with a tranquilizer gun and make it back just in time. They had previously ordered the serum which was used to control the similar disease back in Zaire in 1967. Along with the serum and the monkey they begin to reverse the process of the disease, leaving the town alone now to heal.

  • Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Donald Sutherland Kevin Spacey and Cuba Gooding Jr.
  • Director(s): Wolfgang Henderson
  • Producer(s): Arnold Kopelson Productions
  • Screenwriter(s): Laurence Dworet, Robert Roy Pool
  • Distributor: Warner Brothers, Inc.
  • Animal Coordinator: Unknown
  • Release Date: Wednesday, February 01, 1995
  • Rating: Acceptable

Featured Animal Action

While in Zaire, Jim, one of the attendants, captures one of the monkeys by throwing a net over him. To accomplish this scene, the monkey was trained to be caught in the net. In fact, he was taught that the net was part of a game so had no fear of it. In Cedar Creek, Jim drives a forklift which moves the caged monkey. To accomplish this scene, the trainer positioned the cage on the forklift. As the actor drives the forklift, the trainer walks alongside the monkey just off camera, giving verbal commands. The monkey was then rewarded with food. In another scene, Jim drives the car with the monkey in the cage in the back seat. In reality, the car was on stage so was never really moving. The monkey's cage had been prepped for the scene by removing the bottom of the cage to give the monkey more space. The monkey, still in the back seat of the car spits on Jim. For this scene, the trainer put water in the monkey' mouth with a syringe and cued the monkey to spit water out. When Rudy takes the monkey out of his cage at the pet store the monkey scratches Rudy in the face which draws blood. To accomplish this scene, the trainer positioned the monkey with the actor. A makeup artist applied a non-toxic stage blood to Rudy's face and the monkey's hand. The trainer then gave a verbal cue to the monkey to raise his hand to the actor's face. The monkey did not actually scratch the actor. When the monkey in the pet store reacts to the fish tank crashing and is frightened by the noise, the trainer merely cued it to laugh which made the monkey appear to be frightened. Robbie goes to the pet store where she notices the other monkey in its cage near death. To accomplish this scene, the trainer put non-toxic ophthalmic ointment in the monkey's eyes to make them look red, then cued the monkey to stay. When Sam and Salt shoot the monkey with a tranquilizer gun, the monkey walks slowly back into the woods and lies down. This scene was filmed in cuts. We first see Salt aim and fire the gun. We never actually see the monkey get shot. Then we see the monkey walk slowly into the woods. For this scene, the trainer had tied a dart with a soft cord around the monkey's waist, placed the monkey on his mark and then cued him to stop and lie down. For the close-up shot, the trainer placed the monkey on the ground and cued him to stay. In order to get different camera angles and more takes, an animatronic monkey was used. The animatronic monkey was also used when Sam and Salt picked him up and put him in the helicopter. In an earlier scene, while Sam is bathing the dogs, he goes to answer the phone, leaving the dogs in the tub. The dogs jump out of the tub and shake off the water. To accomplish these scenes, the trainer first positioned the dogs in the tub, giving verbal and visual commands with food as their reward. Warm water was used for the bath. The dogs were kept warm during and between takes with heaters and were dried off well when finished with their baths. In another scene, while the dogs are in a taxi, they are barking to get out to Sam. One of them hangs his head out of the window of the taxi. For this scene, two trainers had positioned the dogs in the back seat of the car. One of the trainers sat in the back seat with the dogs while the other one called the dogs from behind to look back at Sam. Between takes, while the dogs were in the car, the air conditioner was kept on for their comfort. Additional animal action included various laboratory monkeys, apes or rabbits in cages. There were also several animals in cages in the background of the pet store including a monkey, parrots, hamsters, fish, rabbits, cats, rats and other birds. The trainers merely placed the animals in cages and then positioned the cages. When Rudy, the pet store owner, becomes sick with the virus and collapses over a bank of aquariums full of fish, plastic fish were used in place of the live ones.