Bored in coronavirus quarantine? Here are the best epidemic movies to crank up your panic!
Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog. He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @MPMActingCo
Coronavirus now seems on the precipice of an outbreak here in the United States. Even before Los Angeles was hit with any cases, here in La La Land we made the decision to preemptively panic.
Hand sanitizer is liquid gold in Hollywood right now. Drug stores are stripped so bare that hand sanitizer currently costs more per gram than cocaine… or at least that’s what my cocaine dealer told me.
Since we all seemed destined for quarantine, be it mandated or self-imposed, I’ve decided to do my part to prepare readers for how to survive the coming Coronapocalypse by putting together a quarantine viewer’s guide.
Here is a list of pandemic-themed movies, graded on a scale of one to ten for how similar they are to the real-world circumstances of coronavirus.
OUTBREAK (1995) – Outbreak is a decent movie about an Ebola epidemic, most memorable for a scene where a guy coughs in a movie theatre and infects everyone. That visual is pretty unnerving and will make you glad you are watching in a plastic quarantine bubble and not at the Cineplex.
Coronascore: 4/10. Coughs are really scary these days.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011) – Tells the story of a virus-based drug meant to treat Alzheimer’s that goes wrong and kills or turns humans mute while making apes super-smart and able to talk.
There has been no news about apes being susceptible to Covid-19, but they do say that dogs can get it. No word yet on whether the infected dogs gain the power of speech…but I wouldn’t be surprised. Thankfully, they lack opposable thumbs so that is a war we can definitely win.
Coronascore: 5/10, the coronavirus scare has not made anyone smarter yet.
12 MONKEYS (1995) – This mind-bending meditation on time travel and destiny tells the story of a group of eco-terrorists who release a deadly virus into the world in order to eliminate humans, and the band of survivors who travel back in time to stop them.
Corona probably wasn’t released by eco-terrorists but, since China imposed quarantines, satellite photos have shown its pollution has come to a screeching halt…hmmm, makes you wonder. Coronascore: 6.5/10. Think about it.
28 DAYS LATER (2002) – In 28 Days Later a highly contagious virus is accidentally released upon the world, turning people into hyperkinetic zombies.
Corona may not directly lead to zombie-ism, but the panic around it sure turns people – like me – into mindlessly frantic and fearful beings who attack old ladies in drug stores to obtain a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer!
As for Corona being “accidentally” released into the public, maybe by a biological weapons facility in China, I have heard crazier conspiracy theories… that’s for sure.
Coronascore: 7/10 – if the virus doesn’t start a zombie apocalypse, it will at least prepare you for one.
WORLD WAR Z (2013) – Another entry where a virus turns people into zombies – this time who are attracted to sound. In order to overcome the zombie hordes Brad Pitt travels the globe looking for a vaccine. He eventually finds one and hope is restored to humanity. I have considerably more confidence in Brad Pitt solving the Covid-19 crisis than the US government.
Coronascore: 7/10, as above, plus Brad Pitt.
ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1971) – In this film a satellite falls to earth carrying an alien organism which, upon contact with humans, crystallizes their blood. I have yet to read of any blood crystallization regarding Corona…but, to be fair, I am not a big reader.
Scientists have praised Andromeda Strain because “it accurately details the appearance of a deadly agent, its impact, and the efforts at containing it, and, finally, the work-up on its identification and clarification on why certain persons are immune to it.”
For scientific accuracy I give it a coronascore of 8/10.
CONTAGION (2011) – The gold standard of pandemic movies tells the story of a virus that starts with a bat in China and then spreads across the planet due to an interconnected global economy. Sound familiar?
Contagion also has the distinction of killing off super annoying actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The filmmakers knew audiences would love Gwyneth’s demise so much they even put it in the trailer.
The superbug in Contagion is much more potent than Covid-19, but the movie’s depiction of the struggle of health officials to contain and identify the virus –and the ensuing collapse of social order– all seem to be spot-on if Corona gets really bad.
Coronascore: 9/10. It even has the bat!
In conclusion, while I am not ‘technically’ a doctor, here is my very cinematically informed opinion of what will happen with coronavirus.
I believe some guy will corona-cough in a movie theater and then Gwyneth Paltrow will fall ill and her Goop-inspired, vagina-scented candles won’t save her.
The virus then mutates and turns people into mute hyper-zombies attracted to sound and gives apes extreme intelligence and the power of speech, which predictably leads to a zombie-ape war.
Then a time traveling spaceship, hopefully piloted by Charlton Heston, lands carrying a space virus that wipes out the zombies and apes, leaving behind a rag-tag bunch of surviving humans, led by Brad Pitt, who live in the eco-utopia that is now Earth.
Either that or this whole coronavirus thing blows over and we all live happily ever after – or at least until the next pandemic comes along and scares the living hell out of us all over again.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.