This week’s list was inspired by my new movie list muse Amiee Ruddy and the DVD release of Contagion. I’ve yet to see the film myself but it sparked a conversation about films that feature evil deadly viruses, infections, and disease that ultimately threatens the livelihood of humanity. Taking out the zombie element, even though a few on here are arguably movies involving zombies, (let the 28 Days Later argument go people! Dead horses and whatnot!) these are films that started with an outbreak of some kind, or virus or disease, not just a flesh eating freak of nature because hell filled up.
10. THE CRAZIES
The original I haven’t seen but the remake featuring Timothy Olyphant was a hoot, and incited its share of scary moments. In a small town it becomes apparent that something is wrong, and by wrong a government plane that crashed with its bio warfare business becomes exposed in an environment that isn’t controlled. The result is people exuding violent tendencies with what seems a flagrant memory of their former selves. The Crazies has great violence, interesting plot, and great tongue in cheek humor.
9. RESIDENT EVIL
One of the possible zombie mentions on this list that filters into zombie world is Resident Evil. This sequel spewing dynasty is one of the most successful video game turn films ever, but also is a well created post apocalyptic flick, and features a female action hero. About 100 brownie points from me are awarded and even possibly Delroy Lindo’s cookies. The Umbrella Company’s experiments become contagious and unfortunately spill into humanity, its bio-weapon making the living morph and turn into flesh devouring freaks, this is a good one.
8. CABIN FEVER
I visited Cabin Fever years and years ago on a late night with my old roommate. He and I were more enamored by the Rotten Fruit skit in the additional DVD features, but I concede perhaps it deserves a second chance as it is liked by many a colleague of mine. Even with my less than inspired opinion of it, the contagious element added to this film is scary, funny, and creative. You go into this movie thinking slasher, killer in the woods scenario, and end up with something……….equally gross in gore, but scary in another way. Again, I’ll be revisiting.
7. I AM LEGEND
This tale of Robert Neville seemed full of hopelessness. Everything was lost. In the vastness of Manhattan, he appeared to be the last man alive. After three years his hope in finding someone else, or curing the disease that had infected those who were left was wavering. The only thing left alive was the morphed creatures that haunted the night where Robert hid in his fortress like home waiting for the frightening hours to pass. The result of this virus is far more terrifying than anything, and Neville’s solitude lingers with you long after the credits have rolled.
6. THE STAND
The Stand is a magnificent tale of survival after a man made Apocalypse. Stephen King manages to make his own twist on the infection genre that stands alone from the collaborative on this list. Death by virus is a simplistic method for extinction, but the supernatural and religious overtones that follow the cataclysmic end of man, really define what The Stand is about. There is no question the story began as child questioning the universe what the meaning of life is, good and evil, if God exists, and many other profound questions one could surmise. It’s told in Kings simple way of letting a plethora of characters play out seemingly irrelevant events that lead to a masterful conclusion.
Doomsday is yet another film that explores the zombie or “virus” situation, and the whole concept of what happens after, but Doomsday paints a different portrait of the aftermath. A portion of the United Kingdom was quarantined and left alone for decades after final evacuation efforts. Twenty years later the flu has showed itself again, but this time in downtown London. As fast as it spreads and as contagious as it is the Prime Minister reveals knowledge that aerial shots of the quarantined zone revealed that there are humans alive in at the very least Glasgow. A group of elite soldiers are the very first people to be sent into the zone in over twenty years in search of the cure. What they discover is far from anything anyone had anticipated, and the new world left from humanities worst display of fear has manifested itself in a most terrifying way.
4. CHILDREN OF MEN
In 2027, in a chaotic world in which humans can no longer procreate, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea, where her child’s birth may help scientists save the future of humankind. The setting is textured with a world crumbling down and graffiti covering everything. The despair of mankind is everywhere and hope seems non-existent as the tale begins with the youngest human alive murdered. The bleak fate of our race seems to bring out the worst in people, save a few, and it seems humanity almost has earned its demise.
Yep, the monkey did it. On a plane a monkey is carrying a deadly virus that ends up in a small town infecting the population. Aside from a well written story, and talented cast, what really registers home with Outbreak is the legitimacy of it. There are no flash and bang moments, no zombie like creatures, no violence, no huge element of conflict. The story lets the true fear of such an event speak for itself, and as you care about the characters, you are personally invested making a real emotional connection.
2. 28 DAYS LATER
There is an element of realism added into 28 Days Later, which makes the setting even more palpable. The eerie aspect of an incurable, highly contagious disease taking over London and literally making it hell on Earth is absurdly creepy, but taking the element of first person, and Cilian Murphy’s character, Jim, awaking to a world he doesn’t understand is the perfect creation for a sense of solitude and fear. Danny Boyle acknowledges the fact that in our busy bee world, silence can be the most terrifying sound of all.
1. 12 MONKEYS
Mankind has barely survived a virus that destroyed the majority of its population. Years into the future, criminals are sent through time travel to find the pieces of the puzzle that ended in humanities demise. All signs point to something involving “Twelve Monkeys”. In order to save mankind James Cole who also happens to be a criminal is sent back to find this information. For some reason he has more tolerance to the travel and can remember more. This movie is a whirlwind up till the climactic shooting by airport security, filmed in slow-motion, of James which is perceived through a young incarnation of him watching witnessing his own death. Talk about twisted. In this one the virus still gets us even with trying to alter the time continuum.
Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.