It’s important to keep some perspective as we go through this period of global uncertainty – or at least give ourselves something to do inside for a couple of hours other than re-arrange the garage. Here are four top illness disaster movies to help remind you it could always be worse. (We hope).
The Eblola-like Motaba virus arrives on America’s shores inside an infected monkey from Zaire in this 1995 film directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot The NeverEnding Story, In the Line of Fire, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm – no schlockmeister he). The monkey infects a poor, unsuspecting lab worker in California, and then disappears into the wild. The evil government tries to keep the truth secret while a crusty military man (Dustin Hoffman as Col. Sam Daniels), and a brainy and smokin’ hot CDC scientist (Renee Russo as Roberta "Robby" Keough) manage to save the day.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting this 2011 movie, directed by Steven Soderbergh, existed. But it was memorable for being sort of the Charlie’s Angels of illness disaster movies. Doctors Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard), Erin Mears (Kate Winslett), and Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) manage to find a cure and save the world from the deadly MEV-1 virus. Mears, a CDC investigator, helps identify the source of the pandemic before she the virus claims her life. Orantes manages to identify patient zero for the pandemic but gets kidnapped and held for ransom. Hextail eventually saves the day (and the world) after she develops a vaccine from a weaker form of the MEV-1 virus and heroically injects it in herself to prove it works.
World War Z
This 2013 film directed by Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, The Kite Runner, Quantum of Solace), generated half a billion dollars at the box office, but after all, it starred Brad PITT. The Academy Award winner plays Gerry Lane, a former U.N. investigator who gets stuck with his family in traffic and senses there’s something very creepy about this particular gridlock. He’s right…it’s the real zombie apocalypse as healthy people turn into mindless animals after contracting a lethal virus from a single bite. Of course, Gerry saves the day after leading a worldwide search to find the source of the infection and halt its spread.
The Andromeda Strain
Possibly the granddaddy of all sci-fi pandemic disaster movies, The Andromeda Strain was one of the first to use advanced visual effects pioneered by Douglass Trumbull, who broke the mold in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Directed by Robert Wise (West Side Story and The Sound of Music, FFS), the 1971 movie tells the story of a
secret U.S. government satellite that crash-lands in a small New Mexico town where almost all of the town's residents die quickly. It turns out the satellite had an unwitting hitchhiker from outer space: a greenish, throbbing life form, code name "Andromeda," that kills animal life almost instantly. Humanity manages to survive after it’s discovered the organism can’t survive in an alkaline environment. In the end, clouds are seeded over the Pacific Ocean, causing rain to sweep Andromeda out of the atmosphere and into alkaline seawater, rendering it harmless.