In light of recent events, I thought it would be fitting to talk about movies. I selected the genre because it poses a “what if?” scenario. Some people have taken this time to chill and stay home. If that is the case, now is a great time to turn on Netflix and watch some movies. Here is a list of seven virus outbreak movies to keep you occupied. If you have any movies to add to the list, please take the time and reply below. Let’s begin:
“The Seventh Seal” (1957) – If you haven’t seen Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece, drop everything and do it now. Set during the Black Death plague of the 1300s, the film centers on a knight who encounters the angel of death, and the game of chess they play for his soul.
“The Last Man on Earth” (1964)/”The Omega Man” (1971)/”I Am Legend (2007)” – Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel “I Am Legend” inspired three very different adaptations. All they have in common is that a plague wiped out most of humanity and the survivors, save the main character, have been turned into (essentially) vampires. Will Smith’s 2007 film kept the title but removed pretty much everything related to the book’s big twist. Vincent Price’s charming 1964 film preserves the plot best but has the lowest budget. But we’re most partial to Charlton Heston’s ultra-hammy 1971 film.
“The Andromeda Strain” (1971) – Based on the Michel Crighton novel, the film follows scientists investigating an infectious organism that fell to Earth from space. We’ll spoil the ending by telling you they mostly save the day, so relax. Notable for some very innovative cinematography.
“Dawn of the Dead” (1978/2004 remake) – George A. Romero’s 1978 classic isn’t just a clever satire of consumerism. It’s also a look at how the zombie apocalypse functions like a plague. And while Zack Snyder’s action-packed remake ditched the satire, it actually expanded the disease element. Both are perfect to watch when you want your global pandemics fictional instead of so IRL you can’t sleep.
“Outbreak” (1995) – When a new viral hemorrhagic disease breaks out in a small American town, CDC scientists race against time to stop it from spreading. Unfortunately, they also have to deal with a bloodthirsty Army general who wants the virus for a bioweapon and is determined to prevent a cure. This absurd plot was inspired by a celebrated nonfiction history of viruses like ebola because ah, Hollywood. But at least it’s directed by the great Wolfgang Petersen.
“12 Monkeys” (1995) – Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi classic stars Bruce Willis as a time traveler sent back to the 1990s to identify the origin of a global pandemic that nearly wiped out humanity. The portrayal of our world just before, and long after, the (near) end of civilization is harrowing. Luckily, the crazed ecoterrorist wannabe played by Brad Pitt provides much needed comic relief.
“Cabin Fever” (2002) – Eli Roth’s directorial debut follows a group of recent college graduates who become infected with a flesh eating virus during a camping trip. It was remade in 2016 but neither version makes camping look any more appealing.