COVID-19 currently has pretty much the whole world in it's grip. Many countries have restricted public life, to varying degrees, but one thing is very common these days: a huge number of people need to stay at home. A lot. This of course sets some limitations on how people can spend their day - and as we all know, movies are a great way to kill large amounts of time, and keep your head occupied when there's really not much else to do.
Here are some recommendations for chilling, sometimes outrageous or shocking, and entertaining movies that will certainly NOT get your mind off the current situation:
The Crazies (1973)Director: George A. Romero
George A. Romero was a brilliant observer of human psychology and social dynamics, no surprise you'll find a couple of his films on this list. A virus outbreak pushes a community to it's limits - it theatens the very nature of living together. Romero's "The Crazies" is a bold attempt to picture the catastrophe on many levels. It's a low budget movie, and it has it's flaws, but nontheless it's a fascinating and chilling look at how society disintegrates when individual survival collides with social requirements.
Outbreak (1995)Director: Wolfgang Petersen
An outbreak movie with Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman, directed by the guy who made "Das Boot" and "In the Line of Fire"? You certainly can't go wrong with this one. "Outbreak" is a big budget, full scale Hollywood production, it's to outbreak movies what "Saving Private Ryan" is to WWII movies. It might not be as realistic as "Saving Private Ryan" in every aspect, but if it happens that way, that's how it's gonna look and feel. The race to find the host of the virus, and save a town and it's people from destruction will make you hold your breath until the end.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)Director: George A. Romero
The king and queen of all outbreak movies is Romero's "Dawn of the Dead". Never before, and never again, has the social apocalypse been dissected that precisely and spectacularly. This is the virus taken to the extreme, humankind on the brink of extinction, death is everywhere, and it's spreading, fast. What will you do? Will you run? Will you shoot? Will you dig in? Why will you do so, and why will you succeed, or fail? A pop-art masterpiece, "Dawn of the Dead" is the best outbreak movie and best zombie movie ever - in bright colors, with iconic characters, and some of the most memorable images ever put on film, it explores the roots and branches of social interaction under exceptional circumstances. And it's a hugely exciting movie to watch, it's fast, atmospheric, touching, gory, funny, sad, visionary, and what not else. You must not miss this one.
A note on the many different cuts of the film: get the "US theatrical" or "Euro-Cut/Argento" version, or just watch both. Avoid the "extra long"/"Langfassung"/Oliver Krekel "Ultimate-Final-Cut"/FSK16 cuts.
The Crazies (2010)Director: Breck Eisner
"The Crazies", again? Yes, it's a remake - and, yes, it's a good one! George A. Romero's cult classic got a new treatment in 2010, and they nailed it. It's different from the original, very different, but the mood is completely there - and then some. Everything is bigger, more polished, more stylized - but it still feels right. So what happens when the TRIXIE virus spreads, and people meet the "crazies"? Well, things don't look too good, in fact they look dead serious and horrific.
The Andromeda Strain (1971)Director: Robert Wise
Based on Michael Crichton's book of the same name, "The Andromeda Strain" borders on a horror movie, with it's sometimes surreal, always stylized images. At each instant you expect a giant bug to leap into frame and eat someone. Yes, it's a creepy movie, but there are no giant bugs. Rather it's a fascinating, detailed look at the methodology and mindset of a set of scientists. The horror crawls up from inside of you, realizing the lengths and dangers involved in the process of examining the alien substance, and trying to uncover the mystery of "The Andromeda Strain".
Shivers (1975)a.k.a. "They came from within", "The Parasite Murders" - Director: David Cronenberg
"Shivers" is a weirdly dark, claustophobic, creepy movie, and a clever one, too. David Cronenberg has never failed to create an oddly believable and intellectually stimulating setting for his ideas, and "Shivers" is no exception. Sexually charged infected roam the streets. Think about it, the concept might sound absurd on first thought, but then - heck, it's an intriguing idea, assuming THAT's where the infection strikes, people driven mad by the need to reproduce. Anyway, watch it. It's a kind of low-fi movie, the sober tone only David Cronenberg is capable of creating, as he would later do in "Rabid" and "The Brood" and pretty much all of his movies.
Ebola Syndrome (1996)Director: Herman Yau
Now this one is really hard to stomach. The trailer doesn't do it justice at all. Trust me, tastelessness has never been written in such bold letters. If "Ebola Syndrome" won't make you choke with hysterical laughter and repulsion at the same time, I don't know what will. Among all the mayhem, there's a simplistic, but decent story that has the potential to make you think, but ultimately it just adds to the insane cynicism. This movie will scare the Devil out of you, by the Beelzebub. COVID-19 is a walk in the park compared to "Ebola Syndrome". Happy Quarantine. You're gonna need it.
Diary of the Dead (2007)Director: George A. Romero
It's 2020, people are restricted to their homes due to COVID-19 outbreak. The internet has become the prime source of information. Bloggers and Vloggers start to question and rival offical channels and education. - George A. Romero at it again, he saw it coming, long before it happened. "Diary of the Dead" re-visits the days (or nights) of "Night of the Living Dead", the early days of the outbreak, only in a slighly updated setting: We're not experiencing the apocalypse first hand, but second hand, through the eyes of digital social media. "Diary..." is overshadowed by its predecessors, but it will be recognized as a prophetic vision, and a milestone, just like "Night..." would be, many years after being released.
Thanks for reading!
What do you think? Which are your favourite outbreak movies?