Day of Resurrection

Unmade Film
Intended Release:

Conceived by:

Sakyo Komatsu

Day of Resurrection

Japanese Title

[Fukkatsu no Hi]

In 1964, a US led space mission gathers microorganisms from orbit. These are given to a bio-warfare division to be studied and crafted into a weapon. One of the researchers, Dr. Meyer, discovers with horror the power of one of the samples. While it shuts down in absolute zero temperatures, the microorganism has a regenerative ability. This makes discovering a vaccine difficult as it repairs itself in the host. As a result, a bio-weapon created from it could be a potential cataclysm.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, Meyer attempts to shut the project down. However, a sample makes its way to a British bio-warfare laboratory in Porton Down. There it is developed into MM-88, short for "Martian Murderer". The virus can be airborne, spreading quickly, while it will amplify any illness in the host to make them lethal. In February 196X, a sample of MM-88 is smuggled out of Porton Down by Dr. Karlsky. The effort is noble, attempting to bring it to a Dr. Leisener so he can discover a vaccine. Unfortunately, Dr. Karlsky is caught and killed, while the sample secured. The killers then attempt to meet US intelligence agents in Turkey, but never make it as their plane crashes in the alps during a snowstorm. During the crash, the virus is released...

As spring arrives in the area, and the temperature rises, reports come in of small animals dying en masse. This spreads to the people in the area, who start to pass away. Among them is a young Italian actor, whose demise attracts global attention to the situation. Deaths start to mount worldwide shortly after. The virus is eventually called the Tibetan flu by the press, as a pandemic sweeps the Earth causing immense devastation. Causalities include world leaders, such as the Soviet Union's premier and vice-premier.

Fearing the origin of the virus could be discovered, Dr. Meyer is committed to a mental institute. This prevents him from revealing the truth, but leaves the world unable to learn the regenerative properties of the alien microorganism. As a result, efforts to develop a vaccine are unsuccessful.

By the end of August, less than eight months after MM-88 was released, nearly all life on Earth has been wiped out. Among the few remaining is Dr. Meyer, who has little hope of saving humanity. However, he realizes that several research groups are in Antarctica. Reaching out to them, he finds out they are alive. The freezing conditions have suppressed the virus from reaching them. Meyer gives the survivors all the information he has on the alien microorganism before his death.

Stuck in their grim reality, the Antarctic research bases join together. As word spreads on the airwaves, the nearby US submarine Nereid and the Soviet submarine T232 arrive as well. The vessels have been out to sea during the entire outbreak and were spared. They are welcomed to the unified base.

Over the next years the base continues to settle in. That is until a Japanese seismologist, Yoshizumi, reveals his discovery of a massive earthquake that will hit Alaska sometime in the spring of 1975. This news shocks the US researchers, as they note this would set off the Automatic Reaction System (ARS). This system was setup in the United States to automatically fire nuclear weapons at the Soviet Union if a strike was detected on certain locations in the US. It is believed the earthquake is powerful enough to trigger the system into mistaking it for a nuclear strike. The Soviet researchers note that this would be devastating, as they have a similar system in place which would fire back nuclear weapons. In addition, one of the believed targets of the Soviet system is a now-decommissioned US rocket base in Antarctica, which would wipe out the survivors.

With humanity's survival at stake, Yoshizumi and Major Carter dispatch in the Nereid to disable the ARS in the US. Similarly, two Soviet volunteers dispatch in the T232 to stop the ARS in the Soviet Union. Before leaving, the two teams are given an experimental vaccine, created from irradiating the microorganism with neutron energy.

Unfortunately, the US mission is a failure. They arrive too late, as the Alaska earthquake is already happening and the ARS has been engaged by the time they reach the controls. Major Carter dies during the effort, while Yoshizumi tells the Nereid to evacuate the area. The fate of the Soviet team is unknown. However, either due to their efforts or because Antarctica was not targeted after all, the base in the arctic is spared. Furthermore, the Soviet warheads are discovered to be neutron based, similar to the experimental vaccine. The detonation of these weapons ends up mutating the extraterrestrial microorganism into a form that no longer affects humans, which spreads to other strands of MM-88.

Testing the vaccine, the survivors begin to spread out. They eventually arrive in Argentina by the end of the 1970's. There they discover, to everyone's surprise, Yoshizumi, who spent the last several years walking from Washington to try and get word out that the vaccine worked. As 1980 rolls around, the remains of humanity start planning further expansion across the continent.

Background - Images - Concept Evolution


Long before Submersion of Japan (1973) and ESPY (1974), author Sakyo Komatsu was on Toho's radar. In fact, one of the earliest attempts to work with the author started back in 1965. This was from an effort to create a movie adaptation from his 1964 novel Day of Resurrection. However, Toho ultimately passed on producing it themselves saying that a movie of this nature, either due to the international angle or scope of the production, could only be made outside of Japan at this point in time.

This led to the story being translated into English and shopped around to studios outside of Japan. It eventually caught the interest of 20th Century Fox. Timing worked against the project, though, as 1969 rolled around. That year author Michael Crichton released a New York Times best seller called The Andromeda Strain. In it, a US astronaut brings back an extraterrestrial microorganism, as part of a project to develop bio-weapons. This ends up being a deadly, microscopic alien organism that spreads and kills before being contained. Crichton's novel ended up being fast-tracked into a movie by Universal Studios, released in 1971.

While the two stories differ greatly, the origin of the alien microorganism is pretty much the same. Eventually 20th Century Fox lost interest after these turn of events.

Luckily, and likely thanks to the immense box office success of Submersion of Japan (1973), by the 1970's publisher Kadokawa expressed an interest in realizing the movie. Looking to get into filmmaking, they planned to finance the project themselves. By 1974 development work started on what would ultimately become Virus (1980), produced by Kadokawa and released by Toho. This shifted the concept to take place in the near future, in 1982, and totally removed any mention of the space related elements from the story. As a result, the movie became totally detached from comparisons with The Andromeda Strain's plot.

Aliens, SDF & Misc.

Background and Trivia

  • Note that the plot above is taken from the novel. It's likely it would have been altered for its adaptation into a film. In addition, the novel refers to the events of the pandemic as taking place in 196X. This is likely done for dramatic effect, as other events in the story have specific dates which place this as having to have been 1969 or 1970.
  • Toho's involvement when the movie was considered with 20th Century Fox is murky. It's possible it would have been a co-production or Toho might have simply distributed the film in Japan had it been made.
  • Author Sakyo Komatsu noted he was quite surprised by the turn of events of Michael Crichton releasing The Andromeda Strain in 1969 and then it being made into a movie so quickly, all the while he was still trying to get a movie around his 1964 book off the ground. This and other details of the early developments of this project are noted in an interview with Komatsu published in Day of Resurrection (ISBN 4894563738).
  • This project, once moved to Kadokawa, was described as a passion project of Haruki Kadokawa, who would become president of Kadokawa in 1975. This and other details after Kadokawa became involved are noted in SF Soul (ISBN 4106101769).

Concept Evolution

Day of Resurrection Concept Evolution Virus
Day of Resurrection   Virus