Welcome to the new reality, folks! While you are at shuttered in at home, many of you have been curious about the scary fictional takes on our scary for-real situation. I get it. Get to know your enemy, right?
Behold, the big list of infectious horror. In this list, we cover your viral pandemics, your vampire viruses, zombiepocalpses, parasitic infestations, and any nasty infection that would scare you sleepless. Think of it this way. If it were worse, it would look like one of these movies.
The fear of pandemic contagions is a fairly recent part of horror, as it wasn’t really until the 1960’s that we had a traumatic disease at the center of the horror. Maybe it was taboo, and filmmakers didn’t want to go there in the early years. Too grim. Too close to home. Death by disease and pestilence is as old as humanity, and whether you chalked it up to God’s wrath or miasma, the crud has brought humankind to its knees, and it’s back with a vengeance in 2020. It is certainly the scary of the now.
The Scariest Things encourages everyone to follow the guidelines set forward by your health care officials, lest something like one of these fates strike you down. With that in mind, consider this your streaming guide to the pathogenic, the pestilential, the pandemic horrors. Just remember, if you decide you want to Netflix (or Shudder) and chill… do it from opposite ends of the sofa, six feet apart.
The Last Man on Earth (1964), Pre MPAA, now [PG]
Directed by Ubaldo Ragona
Richard Matheson’s tale “I am Legend” is represented three times under three slightly different versions on this list. The Last Man on Earth features the inimitable Vincent Price as Robert Morgan, a scientist who is the last man standing following a pandemic that has turned the world’s population into nocturnal vampire fiends. By day he ventures out to scavenge for supplies, and kill these creatures when they sleep. By night he bunkers down as those he hunts by day turn the tables. As is the case in all of these adaptations, there is a revelation about the nature of both the hunter and the hunted that is pure Matheson genius.
The Satan Bug (1965), Pre MPAA, Now [PG]
Directed by John Sturges
The Satan Bug (1965): The Satan Bug is top secret! And it’s got SATAN in the title. What’s not to love? This epic slice of 1960’s paranoia follows the government’s search for a missing vial of the Satan Bug. You see this is no ordinary vial. Oh no, this vial contains a Satanic (?) virus that could the key weapon that would kill us all. In that sweet spot of horror, sci-fi, and murder mystery lives — THE SATAN BUG!
The Omega Man (1970), Rated [PG]
Directed by Boris Sagal
This is the second of the “I Am Legend” adaptations. This time it is Charlton Heston in the last man standing role, a role he also performed in Planet of the Apes, and Soylent Green, all science fiction staples of the era. He plays surviving scientist Robert Neville, who this time is captured by these plague zombie/vampires, and is rescued by a group of survivors who have not been tainted by the disease. Again, at the point of a ray of optimism for a cure, the film takes a dark turn at the end, an emblematic sign of the times in science fiction cinema of the 1970s.
I Drink Your Blood (1970), Rated [X] (Now R)
Directed by David Durston
The pandemic, grindhouse-style! Hey, nobody said these movies were all going to be deep thinkers. This is pure exploitation fare, pitting a band of satanist hippies who run roughshod over a small rural New York town. They rape a local girl and force LSD upon her grandfather who fails to rescue her. In a bit of revenge, the girl’s brother manages to infect these no-good hippies with meat pies that have that extra special sauce of rabid dog’s blood. The consequences get nasty. The film actually should be titled “I eat Rabid Dog Meat Pie” but that probably wasn’t as catchy a title. An interesting footnote is that this was the very first film to get an X rating from the MPAA for violence alone. This film often was a double feature with the equally nasty I Eat Your Skin.
No Blade of Grass (1970), Rated [R]
Directed by Cornel Wilde
The 1970’s was an era for bleak apocalyptic science fiction, and it doesn’t come much bleaker than this almost forgotten British production. The world has gone into worldwide blight, leaving the bulk of the third world rioting and going cannibal. A well-to-do family flees London, given some advanced warning of a heavy government crackdown, and they flee to a farm in the north of the country, but it doesn’t go according to plan. Roving bands of marauders roam the countryside, forcing the family and their companions into some very unsavory actions. Rape, rioting, famine, betrayal, miscarriage, political failure, and the collapse of society. Good times!
The Andromeda Strain (1971), Rated [G] (!)
Directed by Robert Wise
Before Michael Crichton became THE Michael Crichton, he banged out a super cool little novel called the Andromeda Strain. Then, of course, Hollyweird got their paws on it and voila’! A freaky movie following an equally freaky space alien virus. Just when you think you’ve got your house in order along comes something you never counted on — outer space viruses! Crichton would demonstrate, as he would in his future writings, a knack for research and hard science as the foundation of his stories. This puts the scientists in as heroes as they investigate a small New Mexico town (it’s always New Mexico for these sorts of things) that has been completely wiped out by this virus. Lots of talk about DNA, RNA, amino acids, and pH strains gets bandied about. Science! I Drink Your Blood, this is not. But it’s not all egghead material, as there is a race to beat the clock to prevent a nuclear reaction from going off to amp up the drama. Action!
If the super-inspired groovy early 1970s aesthetics don’t pull you in, the soundtrack will. Put together by weirdo experimental jazz musician, Gil Melle — whose film works include such other greats as The Ultimate Warrior (1975), Embryo (1976), The Sentinel (1977), Starship Invasions (1977), Blood Beach (1981), Frankenstein: The True Story (1973), Killdozer! (1974), and Death Scream (1975) — this soundtrack includes the most unnerving bleeps, bloops, and scratches. If you ever wondered what an alien virus sounded like, Andromeda Strain’s got you covered.
The Crazies (1973) Rated [R] : The Crazies (2006) Rated [R]
Directed by George Romero (1973) and Breck Eisner (2006)
This film just might have unwittingly been the perfect bridge between Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Alternatively, Crazies might just be its own form of viral conspiracy that exists in its own terrifying universe. In his fourth(ish) film George A. Romero manufactures a positively claustrophobic environment where a small town is unwittingly the target of a clumsy rage-based outbreak. Marshal law is declared, but the citizenry is having none of the gov’mint’s attempts to contain them or the virus. Have yourself a pandemic sandwich with Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead and Crazies. You’ll be satisfied! The 2006 sequel also is a decent watch.
Shivers (1975) Rated [R]
Directed by David Cronenberg
The granddaddy of the virus outbreak films! This 1975 Cronenberg joint involves a virus alright, but not just a plain old coughing, wheezing, achy head virus. This is a sex-based virus. In an almost prescient way, Cronenberg, in his first full feature film, preys on the impending tragedy that is AIDS. To make matters worse, Cronenberg confines the entire sexy virus to a super-chic condo on an equally chic island. As the poster warns us:
“If you think you’re not afraid of the dark; If you feel nothing can shock you; If you say you don’t scare easily; If you believe you’ve see everything, THEN SEE: Shivers! Being terrified is just the beginning.”
Bonus points for the presence of the legend Barbara Steele in the film!
Rabid (1977) Rated [R]
Directed by David Cronenberg
Cronenberg sure likes his contagion movies, doesn’t he? Former adult film star Marilyn Chambers plays Rose, who suffers a horrible motorcycle accident, and receives some radical medical grafts to help her recover from her terrible wounds. When she recovers, initially things seem fine, but then she has developed a nasty new phallic appendage from her armpit with which she satiates her new thirst for human blood! (ewww) And what’s more, her attacks cause an infection that turns her victims into foaming at the mouth zombie-like rabid mutants. These mutants start spreading this wild mutant strain of rabies throughout Montreal, causing a pandemic. The Soska Sisters rebooted this film last year, but you’re advised to take a hard pass on that version.
Nightmare City (1980)
aka Incubo, aka City of the Walking Dead, Rated [R]
Directed by Umberto Lenzi. Not Rated might be [X for violence]
This Romero ripoff has it all. Government gone wrong, poorly executed cover-ups, infected Italian radiation zombies, and HUGO STIGLITZ. Nightmare City is one of the weirdest, funkiest, homages to outbreak cinema you’ll ever see. Directed by the man who brought you Eyeball, Spasmo, and Cannibal Ferox — Nightmare City is packed with an extra helping of gore, suspicion, and eyeball jabbing. Tom Savini went over the top with the layers of makeup for this effort. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Virus (1980) Not Rated ([R] likely at a minimum)
Directed by Bruno Mattei
This film is literally called VIRUS and should be on any and every pandemic-related horror film list. Note, it is not to be confused with the non-pandemic Jamie Lee Curtis movie of the same name from 1999. Taking the best (or worst) parts of Zombi, Island of Dr. Butcher, Dawn of the Dead, Virus features the music of Goblin and some of the most ham-fisted acting ever to hit the silver screen. The government’s plan to exact Operation Sweet Death gets a little out of hand and the virus, well, let’s just say the virus spreads.
The Thing (1982)
Directed by John Carpenter
Not a pandemic movie you say? That thing is going to wreck the planet if it gets to civilization, and the staff biologist Blair (Wilford Brimley) no fool, he was on to it:
Probability that one or more team members may be infected by intruder organism: 75%. Projection: If intruder organism reaches civilized areas… Entire world population infected 27,000 hours from first contact.Blair checking the computer data about the assimilation potential of the thing organism.
The Thing is a pandemic movie, no doubt. Rumor has it the first sign that you may be a Thing is a dry cough and a fever. They always start that way.
Warning Sign (1985) Rated [R] (Probably PG-13 now)
Directed by Hal Barwood
Chances are, you didn’t see this movie. The film only grossed $1.9 million, and really didn’t make much of an impact on the public consciousness. Warning Sign is the story of a war profiteering nerve gas company masquerading as an agri-chem laboratory in Utah. The film opens with a very careless accident that wouldn’t you know it, exposes everybody in the lab to this nerve agent that not only blisters them horribly, but also makes them crazy killers. It features a very capable cast of Sam Watterston, Kathleen Quinlan, Yaphet Kotto, and Jeffrey DeMunn. It feels a bit like a made-for-TV movie, but it does have a fun beat-the-clock pacing to it. The cautionary tale here is that you just can’t trust the corporate big-wigs and their military goons.
The Stand [TV] (1994) NR Probably PG-13
Directed by Mick Garris
The rambling Stephen King epic novel was turned into a three-part NBC mini-series. A global pandemic has devastated the world’s population, leaving the survivors to descend into tribalism. This Emmy winning series probably is one of the high points in Friend of the Podcast Mick Garris’ long working relationship with King. The epic and sprawling story required a large star-studded cast including Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Laura San Giacomo, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Miguel Ferrer, Matt Frewer, and Jamie Sheridan. Network television just doesn’t do horror mini-series any more, and Garris had to struggle to take King’s more visceral content and pare it down for network compliance, and it still managed to pack quite a punch.
Outbreak (1995) Rated [R]
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
This star-packed big-budget disaster movie features Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Renee Russo, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland and Cuba Gooding Junior. So, the movie has a fantastic pedigree, but the faces were so familiar that it often felt like you were always watching a Hollywood movie, and therefore felt at arm’s reach for authenticity. However, watching it again, it does have echoes to what is happening now… an outbreak that moves rapidly throughout the whole country. Panic, all the way up to the White House. No cure, but if we can just find that infected monkey, we can find an antidote! Knowing what we know now, though, getting an antivirus within four days? Not likely.
12 Monkeys (1995) Rated [R]
Directed by Terry Gilliam
The auteur director, Terry Gilliam, put his fantastic visual treatment and trademark quirky situations to great use in this wholly unique science-fiction vision of a future wrecked by a pandemic caused by… 12 monkeys. This might be the high water mark for the acting career of Bruce Willis, and is one of the movies that showcased Brad Pitt as a talented actor who wasn’t just another pretty face. The movie’s bleak future is 2035, not that far away, folks! Also, I want to know where to get one of those isolation suits, might come in handy nowadays.
Cabin Fever (2002) Rated [R]
Directed by Eli Roth
A group of students head to an isolated cabin in the woods to party- what could go wrong, right? In Eli Roth’s directorial debut Cabin Fever, a lot. Get ready for plenty of classic horror movie character tropes, some really weird locals and a bit of body horror as the teens try to avoid contracting a flesh eating virus. The only way out may be beer…
Resident Evil (2002) Rated [R]
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
For better or worse, this was a faithful adaption of the long-running video game series, depicting an evil corporation’s manipulation of a bio-weapon virus that loses containment and creating a bunch of zombie mutants. Milla Jovovich has headlined this shoot-em-up franchise where the virus is always a Macguffin excuse to shoot a lot of mutant abominations. There’s some profit in that, so long as you have the right leading lady.
28 Days Later (2002) Rated [R]
Directed by Danny Boyle
One of the best modern horror movies around. This formed the template for the fast zombie movie, but as most horror fans know, they’re not truly zombies, but victims of a rage virus that turns people into ferocious feral and violent creatures… aka Fast Zombies. The movie succeeds on the simple premise of society in full collapse, with the environmental conditions created by the infected are heightened by the greed and sociopathic behavior of those with the firepower. This was the template for the Walking Dead franchise and is bolstered by some of the best character building in all of horror cinema.
Children of Men (2006) Rated [R]
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Alfonso Cuaron’s masterpiece of a grim apocalyptic future where all the women in the world have gone sterile, collapsing global society. twenty years later, in Britain, a miracle mother is found by an underground revolutionary group, and Clive Owen has to guide this young pregnant woman to safety, as the future may clearly be tied to her safety and that of her future baby. Grim, sober, and haunting, this is one of the high bars of dystopian science fiction.
Slither (2006) Rated [R]
Directed by James Gunn
Wonderfully yucky, with great comic timing and performances by a sneaky good cast, (Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, and Gregg Henry all just having a ball doing this film.) This is one of the most entertaining infectious movies you will ever watch. At times over the top gross, but always with a wink and a wicked grin. The little town of Wheely, South Carolina has been infested with alien slugs that are looking for local hosts to start an alien invasion. When they find a suitable host in Michael Rooker, he becomes the de-facto Alpha alien beastie abomination. Much goopy mayhem ensues. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You may want to puke.
I am Legend (2007) Rated [PG-13]
Directed by Francis Lawrence
And now we reach the final version of the Richard Matheson “I Am Legend” story. This time Will Smith is Robert Neville, the last man on Earth, but fortunately he has a dog to keep him company. Neville desperately researches a cure, while at the same time actively vampire hunting by day. Again, the end of the story puts the question out there: Who is the real monster?
28 Weeks Later (2007) Rated [R]
Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Sometimes you should just leave well enough alone. Britain believes that the island has been cleared of the rage virus that devastated the UK in 28 Days later. Five years later, people are reintroduced to London… slowly… with the heavy presence of the military watching over the proceedings. Unfortunately, a single-family manages to collapse the entire system by falling prey to their desires for freedom (the kids breaking curfew and exploring where they shouldn’t), and their unwillingness to let go (The dad sneaking in to see his wife in isolation). Society collapses, again. Good job, guys.
Mulberry Street (2007) Rated [R]
Directed by Jim Mickle
Remember when New York City was a cesspool of random violence and urban decay? Mulberry Street returns to that image of NYC, with a city infested with rats, and those rats are in turn biting people and turning them into savage rat people. Tough guy extraordinaire, Nick Damici [Late Phases] and his fellow low-rent apartment dwellers struggle against the rat-person onslaught. This movie felt like a Larry Cohen style guerrilla-tactic movie shoot, as it is hard to fathom that a movie this cheap could get the NYC shot sequences staged for the feature. Fast and unsparing.
Splinter (2008) Rated [R]
Directed by Toby Wilkins
Here’s a nasty little movie you might not have been aware of. Splinter is also part creature feature and roadside horror show. An indeterminate woodland critter has come down with some sort of metamorphic fungal disease that takes over the organism, and creates spikey splinter like projections and also animates the creature after death. So, you get some wonderful Thing-like affectations, and this is one of those diseases that looks horribly painful to be subjected to. One of the better uses of the “trapped in a gas station” tropes you will encounter.
Pontypool (2008) Rated [R]
Directed by Bruce McDonald
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. This fascinating low-budget thriller takes place largely in the recording booth of small-town Canadian radio station 660 CLSY, where radio host Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is having to broadcast in the blind about rampaging violent cannibalistic mobs in the tiny town of Pontypool, Ontario. The people are affected by a madness caused by, of all things, language. This is a fascinating and at times a head-scratching philosophical take on the power of the spoken word turning truly toxic.
Blindness (2008) Rated [R]
Directed by Fernando Meirelles
The world is being struck blind. People’s vision is whiting out, and this film has a great way of conveying that visually de-saturated landscape. Julianne Moore plays a woman who is immune to this plague, but all around her the pandemic sweeps through the country, changing everything. Blindness creates a huge issue for transportation, production, and leads to inevitable starvation. Sex slavery becomes a threat, and then total chaos. Without a cure in sight (pun intended) the world is left to hope that the conditions will pass, but if it does, what will be left of society? This film is also featured in our Top 25 Horror Films with Disabled Characters.
The Happening (2008) Rated [R]
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
The Happening is likely remembered as a key contributor to the downward spiral of wunderkind M. Night Shyamalan. When people begin dying by mass suicide, this film pits tough guy Mark Wahlberg, playing a sensitive science teacher named Elliot, and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) against…the trees! Yes, that’s right, the plants have developed an airborne toxin that causes people to kill themselves and as they discover the toxin targets large groups social distancing is key. In the film, the action is quarantined in the Northeastern part of the US (or is it?!), but fans from all over may want to keep their distance from this one- but if you need a movie that requires little thought and will make you wonder how it ever got made, The Happening is for you!
[REC] (2007) Rated [R] : Quarantine (2008) Rated [R]
Directed by Jaume Balguero (REC) and John Erick Dowdle
One of the best straight-up horror tales in this list is the one-two combination of [REC] and Quarantine. These two movies are nearly shot-for-shot identical, with Quarantine being the adaptation of the Spanish [REC]. The plot follows a young television reporter out on the nightly beat, following a first response team to an apartment building that had a distress call sent out to deal with an erratic tenant. It turns out that the crazy tenant is full of bad plague mojo, and the infection quickly spreads through the building until it is put on full lock-down, leaving those trapped inside to fend for themselves. The primary difference between these excellent movies is that the Spanish version is demonic based, and the American version is pathogenic. You pick which is scarier!
Doomsday (2008) Rated [R]
Directed by Neil Marshall
An ebola-like flesh-eating Reaper virus is running rampant in Scotland, and the British have walled off the country, leaving the unfortunate Scots to fend for themselves, and likely die off. A girl, Eden is rescued from certain death, and twenty years later is a kick-ass special ops operative (Rhona Mitra). When the virus reappears in London, Eden gets sent over the wall with a crack group of soldiers and scientists to find a cure from a mad scientist believed to be alive in Glasgow. What they find are roving bands of cannibal punks and Renaissance-faire cast-offs. Doomsday is a total throwback to ’80s action fare. If you mashed up Escape from New York, The Road Warrior, and Land of the Dead, you get this. It has a lot of fantastic splattery practical gore effects and some top-shelf car stunt work. The plot is pure B-movie schlock, but if you like films like Robocop or Thunderdome, you’ll dig this cheesy bloodbath of a film.
Carriers (2009) Rated [PG-13]
Directed by David and Alex Pastor
Two brothers, Brian and David (Chris Pine and Lou Taylor Pucci) are on a road trip with their girlfriends (Piper Perabo and Emily VanCamp) to an abandoned motel on Turtle Beach where they spent idyllic childhood summers with their father. They’re heading there not to surf but to wait out the viral pandemic that has swept the world and killed everyone affected. Carriers is infected by the most common of horror tropes: along the way they encounter a father who will do anything for his infected daughter, a doctor who can’t find a cure so would rather euthanize his patients and of course a group of survivalists who need to “inspect the women” for the virus, all the while the gas tank is running low. If you’re looking for originality you may want to skip this one, but if you just want to watch some hot teens make obviously bad choices then give Carriers a whirl.
Black Death (2010) Rated [R]
Directed by Christopher Smith
Let’s all hope it doesn’t come down to this. The O.G. pandemic, the black death, the disease that is the closest the world has seen to a genocidal catastrophe. Put into an uneducated and zealous population, and you get men turning on men at the darkest hour. Eddie Redmayne is the sympathetic center as a doubting novice monk, and Sean Bean is towering as mad crusader Ulrich. Carice Van Houten gets to show off her witchy powers before she became Melisandre in Game of Thrones. The cult’s reverse inquisition is a bit forced and ham-fisted in execution, but it’s an effectively heavy and brutal story.
Contagion (2011) Rated [PG-13]
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
This is the one you’ve all been renting and this film is the most applicable analogy to what we are actually going through today. And let’s just tell it as it is… this movie scares the shit out of us. The movie starts with a cough, and we know that it’s on. So many elements of this movie ring true. Coughing. Fever. It starts in China and London. It sticks on on hard surfaces. Panicking hospital waiting rooms. Emergency triage centers in a basketball gym. Don’t touch your face. No vaccine ready for a long time. Social distancing. Wash your hands. AAAAAAA!!! Soderbergh was onto it! This feels like Nostradamus. Throw in Sanjay Gupta and you’ve got a match.
It’s a huge ensemble cast with Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chin Han, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne featuring in the big cast. Unlike Outbreak, this feels real, and this big cast disappears into the story. Soderbergh got all of his players to give natural, but affecting performances. Technically, this is not a horror movie, but it is 100% a horror movie for the moment.
The Bay (2012) Rated [R]
Directed by Barry Levinson
This makes back to back dead lists! This also is featured in our Horror on (or deep under) the High Seas list. The contagion this time is a parasite, made vicious and prolific thanks to some seedy agricultural GMO processes, corrupt politicians, and an unsuspecting public. This Barry Levinson film utilizes the shaky cam found footage trope to excellent use, as unlike many of the people who use shaky cam do so because of budget necessity. Levinson uses it to establish an authentic narrative style. The movie is also really gory, and holds its cards for quite a while, weaving in a bunch of different stories together until you get a full picture of the disaster.
World War Z (2013) Rated [PG-13]
Directed by Marc Forster
This is a big risk, big-budget production that many thought was doomed to fail, but was rescued thanks to the efforts of its star, Brad Pitt. The movie was based on the fantastic Max Brooks novel World War Z, which is a well-crafted anthology of stories from around the globe that chronologically follows a global zombie pandemic. The movie attempted to condense that into a single feature, and initially the movie was reportedly all-over-the-map, (literally) and the movie had massive re-shoots to achieve something of a single through-line plot. Surprisingly, it worked and was a white knuckle adventure ride. It does not reach the socio-philosophical insights of the book, but it is a very entertaining movie of a world in collapse.
Contracted (2013) Not Rated (a very hard [R])
Directed by Eric England
This movie falls into the category of Bridge Too Far. This movie comes with all sorts of red flags and warning bells. It’s not just that it’s gory in a way that makes you wince and cover your eyes, it’s impactful and emotional in how it goes there. Lovely Samantha (Najarra Townsend) makes a big mistake by getting too drunk at a party when her girlfriend fails to show and pick her up from the party, she gets raped by a stranger, though she doesn’t recall what happened. But then she has brutal cramps and monstrously bad menses. Turns out she got a necrotic STD, and it’s transforming her quickly, and her life unravels. Like Raw, this is a movie that will make you cringe big time both for the horrific disease and the really awkward social moments.
It Follows (2014), Rated [R]
Directed by David Robert Mitchell
The sexually transmitted disease reconstituted as an unstoppable stalking killer. Even though the AIDS crises has been dampened by modern medicine, the fear of the STD remains. This is a pandemic in the form of a curse that you can’t shake, except to try and extend the tree of sexual partners until it hopefully gets far away from you enough that you won’t have to worry. The problem is that it will work its way up said tree. Brilliantly crafted, and some of the most impending doom you can get from a film since the first Nightmare on Elm Street. Can you fight off this curse before it catches you?
Containment [TV] (2016)
Created by Julie Plec
So this is a CW show. That means, of course, lots of good looking actors and actresses in relationship heavy melodrama, but this time in a viral pandemic setting. Also, it has a whole bunch of cast, with a whole bunch of roles, so we get to experience the pandemic through the eyes of the medic, the soldier, the mom, the police chief… everything you need for a proper quarantine. Atlanta is being buttoned up, and this time the giveaway is a sneeze rather than a cough. Knowing what we know now it’s a little quaint that what happens in Atlanta stays in Atlanta and doesn’t become a national plague. Lots of bloody fluid spewing in this show, but it failed to catch an audience and only lasted one season. It has found a new lease on life with our lives under the current microscope. You can catch it (pun intended) now on Netflix.
It Comes at Night (2017) Rated [R]
Directed by Trey Edward Shults
This movie received lots of plaudits from the film press, but a less friendly reception from the horror movie masses. It was presented as a conventional cabin-in-the woods like horror film, but it really was a trust-based thriller drama set in a post-infected world where trust is really hard to come by. Survival and paranoia mix in a very uncomfortably close relationship. How far can hospitality and trust last in a world where isolation means survival, resources are scarce, and death can come invisibly without warning? The good of the many outweighs the good of the few? Nah, forget that! These people take social distancing to the logical extreme.
The Strain [TV] (2014-2017)
Created by Guillermo Del Toro
This is a passion project from DelToro, who initially produced this as a novel in order to get the story out, in order to get it picked up as a TV show. Eventually FX picked it up, and the series lasted for four years, and boasted some pretty impressive production values for a cable show. The story begins with the arrival of a plane full of passengers killed by some unknown pathogen, which later is discovered to be a vampiric strain that is turning these victims into… ghoulish vampires. This series gives Guillermo a chance to bring back his favorite lamprey faced Nosferatu-like creatures that he used in Blade II.
Trench 11 (2017) Rated [R]
Directed by Leo Scherman
As if World War I trench warfare wasn’t bad enough, what if a German mad-scientist was developing a wormy parasite that allowed soldiers to go into a frenzy and fight beyond their normal psychological threshold? That’s right, it’s a horrific idea cooked up as a bio-weapon, and a crack troop of allied forces has been secretly sent to an underground labyrinth under the trenches to flush out the enemy resistance. There is an awful lot of familiar with movies like Overlord, Dead Snow, and Frankenstein’s Army. This effectively claustrophobic indie film managed to provide some pretty nifty worm work and some snappy pacing to make up for the fairly predictable plot.
The Passage [TV] (2019)
Created by Liz Heldens
This Fox TV series is based on the best selling novel of the same name by Justin Cronin. The apocalypse this time is unleashed in the form of a vampiric infection that, like The Strain involves government experiments on unwitting people, prisoners, orphans, and other cast-offs with nothing to lose to test genetic coding that makes people immune to most known pathogens, even slowing down their aging, but with a big side effect… they turn into unstoppable unthinking unsexy vampire creatures.
The series follows, somewhat loosely, the first half of the epic tale in which an agent within the experiment rescues a young girl who was a lab test, but her youth spared her from turning, and they go on the run. It’s a great hide and seek story, but the big effort would have been in season two, when there is a big jump in the timeline, after the vampires wipe civilization out and we join the survivors. Alas… Fox just recently canceled season two. (womp womp)
So, it’s a pretty grim list, no?
Here’s the good news. Given the gravity of all of these horrific futures, we have not succumbed to panic, rioting, looting and cannibalism. We have handled the COVID-19 social distancing well. So good job everyone! We’ll get through this, right? Just, if you feel like you have a thirst for human blood, please remember the six-foot rule.
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