The coronavirus pandemic is understandably causing a lot of fear throughout the world, which means that we should probably not do anything that will make us even more fearful than we already are. Hence, it’s probably not a good idea to watch movies about deadly disease outbreaks that portray the kind of societal chaos that might come with a deadly pandemic or possible post-apocalyptic scenarios. Here are 10 movies not to watch during the current pandemic, in chronological order:
10. The Last Man on Earth, 1964
Many avid movie-goers will probably remember the film, I Am Legend, starring Will Smith. But long before that movie came out, there was a book with the same title, written by Richard Matheson. This was the original I Am Legend, and it spawned three adaptations including the Will Smith version.
The first adaptation was a movie released in 1964, called The Last Man on Earth. It focusses on the daily routine of Dr. Robert Morgan, played by actor Vincent Price, who, after a deadly pandemic sweeps the globe, finds himself the last man on Earth, as the movie’s name implies. By day, he goes out and kills the infected undead, who are vampire-like creatures roaming the streets. By night, he barricades himself, hoping not to get attacked by them.
At one point, he is able to cure one of them, raising the possibility that there is still hope to salvage the human race. But will that hope survive? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out, but it would probably be better to wait until our own pandemic is over.
9. The Crazies, 1973
This film was made by director George A. Romero, who also created the famous Night of the Living Dead. It begins with a military plane carrying a biological weapon that crashes near an American town. The contagion ends up poisoning the town’s water supply, making the locals sick. Some of them die while others turn into homicidal maniacs. The film didn’t do too well at the box office when it was released, but it later became a cult classic and in 2010, a remake was released.
8. Day of the Dead, 1985
Another brainchild of George A. Romero, this film features deadly hordes of flesh-eating zombies, who vastly outnumber the human population. A handful of survivors shelter themselves in a facility underground. As the film progresses, they turn on each other. This movie was the last of Romero’s trilogy, which began with Night of the Living Dead, followed by Dawn of the Dead. A remake of the film was released in 2008.
7. Outbreak, 1995
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Rene Russo, Outbreak is based on Richard Preston’s book, The Hot Zone. The film begins with the emergence of a deadly virus in the African country of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Eventually, the virus makes its way into the U.S., and a small town becomes the epicenter of a dangerous outbreak of the disease. As medical professionals, led by Sam Daniels, try to treat the infected and find the host carrying the virus, hoping that it will hold the key to a cure, members of the military establishment hamper their efforts, looking to protect the virus so that they can use it as a biological weapon in the future.
6. 12 Monkeys, 1995
This movie tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world, where human survivors of a viral outbreak live underground. The film stars Bruce Willis as Cole, who goes back in time in an attempt to find the origins of the virus and stop it from wiping out humanity. The movie also stars Brad Pitt, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Jeffrey Goines, the leader of the Army of the 12 Monkeys, an animal rights group.
5. The Host, 2006
Thirteen years before making the Academy Award-winning film, Parasite, South Korean movie-mogul Bong Joon Ho directed and co-wrote a movie called The Host. The film tells the story of how humanity plants the seeds of its own destruction when scientists decide to pour formaldehyde into the Han River, leading to the creation of a giant amphibious creature who terrorizes the locals and apparently carries a deadly virus. The film also stars Song Kang-ho, who would go on to play the lead role in Parasite.
4. 28 Weeks Later, 2007
This film is the sequel to 28 Days Later which was released one year earlier. It is set in London, England, which is abandoned after the outbreak of a deadly virus. Just as things begin to return to normal, the zombies that the virus created re-emerge. Perhaps the lesson of this movie is, don’t let your guard down and try to get back to normal prematurely after a pandemic as it can come back with a vengeance.
3. Zombieland, 2009
By now, you can probably ascertain that the idea of a zombie apocalypse is a familiar theme in movies about pandemics. Zombieland, as its name implies, is no exception, although it’s more of a comedic take on the theme. It tells the story of two very different people trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Despite their differences, they end up together and team up with two sisters to try and survive.
2. Contagion, 2011
A film with a lot of parallels to the current coronavirus pandemic, this movie follows the rapid, worldwide spread of an airborne virus that kills its victims within days. It was praised by scientists for its accuracy in portraying an actual pandemic and featured several Hollywood heavyweights, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, and Matt Damon.
1. It Comes at Night, 2017
Yet another film set in a post-apocalyptic world in the aftermath of a worldwide pandemic. It Comes at Night follows a surviving family living in a secluded home deep in the woods. They soon encounter another family seeking refuge. After an initial period of bonding, distrust between the two families begins to grow as does paranoia and nightmarish visions about if and how they will be infected.
About the Author
Jason Shvili is a freelance writer in Toronto, who specializes in politics, current events, and history. He is also an avid dog lover and volunteers his time with dog rescues.
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