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Pop Culture and Infectious Diseases

Infectious Diseases Movie Roundup

There have been many movies about infectious diseases. Infectious diseases are scary, and scary makes for good movies. Never fear, here at Shmoop we have saved you the trouble of watching a bunch of movies. We watched them all for you, and collected them in this movie roundup.

Don't worry, no spoilers here. Just some nail biting plots for you to consider for date night.

Contagion (2011): The story of a novel mix between a pig virus and a bat virus which can infect humans. An unfortunate soul picks it up in Hong Kong. Some humans appear to have immunity to the virus. Other humans die within days. The infected population is quarantined and a breakdown of law and order ensues. The movie does a better job than most at explaining the science behind the scenes of combating deadly infectious disease, although things still happen a lot faster in Hollywood than they do in a real laboratory.

Outbreak (1995): The story of an Ebola-like virus that causes a hemorrhagic fever. In this film, the virus was brought to the United States from Africa in a smuggled monkey. As the virus spreads, people are quarantined and there's a serious military cover-up. The plot thickens when the virus mutates into a strain that can be spread through coughs like influenza. Oh that sneaky virus…There is also a wild helicopter action scene at the end of the film. Overall, the science that they use to find a cure is questionable, and the speed that they produce the cure is even more unbelievable (literally).

The Andromeda Strain (1971): In this classic film, a satellite crashes bearing a pathogen from another planet. An entire town is killed instantly by it, and a team of scientists is recruited to study its composition in a secret underground government lab. The scientific process is interesting although the "futuristic" technology is underwhelming 40 years later.

The Stand (1994): A TV miniseries adapted from a Stephen King novel focusing more on the aftermath of a deadly superflu than on the disease itself. In this story, the superflu was accidentally released from a government lab. The virus wipes out 99.9% of humans in the United States. There is a special group of immune survivors who join one of two new communities to rebuild America.

I am Legend (2007) and The Omega Man (1971) and The Last Man on Earth (1964): All adapted from a 1954 book, these films focus on the aftermath of a deadly infectious disease. The disease has wiped out nearly all people or turned them into evil mutant versions of themselves who live in the dark. The star of the film is an immune survivor of the virus who spends his lonely time trying to survive attacks from the mutants while searching for survivors and looking for a cure.

28 Days Later (2002): A virus is released when a chimp is released from a research lab in the United Kingdom. The virus quickly spreads and kills most people. Those not killed are transformed into an angry mutant race. The few survivors band together and eventually find that they don't share the same goals for the future.

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