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Films to Watch During a Pandemic

Accepted submission by cafebabe at 2020-03-01 16:49:19 from the in-flight-film dept.

Here's a quick overview of documentaries to watch before, during and after a pandemic:

The Andromeda Strain film []: An early Michael Crichton [] adaptation which came before the Westworld film [] and series [] and the Jurassic Park [] film series []. Like many Michael Crichton stories, factual science is extended with credible speculation. In this case, a prion []-like infection has killed almost everyone in a village and the survivors are seemingly unrelated. The film is best known for its cartoonish but very photogenic indoor set which serves as the backdrop of a Level 4 Biolab. Such eloborate sets were common in the era. (Other examples include Rollerball [] and disaster parody/Airplane [] predecessor, The Big Bus [].) The film features concurrent action which was a common experimental film technique in the 1960s but, nowadays, is most commonly associated with Kiefer Sutherland [] in the 24 series []. There is also a lesser-known mini-series [].

Outbreak []: A rather dull film which nevertheless provides a graphic portrayal of uncontained pandemic and towns being quarantined. It would be marginally improved if the antagonists were re-cast. Possible source material for DeepFaking [].

The Resident Evil film series []: These films considerably advanced the tropes of amoral corporation, rogue artificial intelligence as antagonist, reality within reality, experimentation without informed consent and the horror of a medicalized vampire/zombie rabies virus. The Red Queen versus White Queen subplot dovetails with Alice in Wonderland [], prey versus predator evolution [] and Umbrella Corp's red and white logo which - in a case of life mirroring art - was copied by Wuhan's Level 4 Biolab. Many people prefer the competent and detailed Resident Evil series of computer games [] which are arguably better than the Half Life [] series [] or the SCP [] game [].

28 Days Later [], 28 Weeks Later [], 28 Months Later []: Gritty films which borrow liberally from Resident Evil and a rich seam of British, Cold War [], post-apocalyptic drama, such as Survivors []. The most iconic scenes of the film - Central London without people - weren't composited or closed for filming. They were merely shot at dawn, on a Sunday morning, around the summer solstice. The first film may have influenced Black Mirror [] episodes []: The National Anthem [] and White Bear [].

World War Z []: If Dan Brown [] wrote zombie stories, they'd be like World War Z. Brad Pitt []'s character dashes to a number of exotic locations and is swept up by events such as panic buying and stampedes from an unspecified infection which has an incubation period of about 20 seconds. (A duration which appears to have been chosen to maximize tension while staying within the one minute beat sheet of the Hero's Journey monomyth [].) It builds upon the zombie mythology of Resident Evil and 28 Day Later. However, it is undermined by cheap grading, cheap compositing and reliance on flocking software [].

Contagion []: I haven't seen this one. It may or may not involve Gwyneth Paltrow [], Harvey Weinstein [], an Oscars acceptance speech [], Seth MacFarlane [] and a vaginal steamer []. Well, it probably relieves the itching of genital herpes.

Cloverfield 1 [], 2 [], 3 [] and 4 []: Found footage genre which is heavily influenced by the Blair Witch Project [] (obviously), Godzilla films [], The Day the Earth Stood Still [], any B-movie with a military Jeep and medicalized zombie films. The first film has fantastic compositing which may be of particular interest to anyone working on an augmented reality [] horror game [].

Bad Taste []: Peter Jackson []'s first commercial film. It was almost unfinished due to the ridiculous ending which blatently copies from a film which - to prevent spoiler - I won't mention. A particularly low budget effect was used for gun flash. Specifically, the original 16mm footage was poked with a pin. Regardless, if you've seen the carnage of Peter Jackson's orc battles then you may be curious to see the carnage of Peter Jackson's zombie fights. Additionally, Bad Taste works particularly well as a drinking game.

George A. Ramero [] and John A. Russo [] films: These classics brought zombies out of a largely undifferentiated mess of vampire/mummy/voodoo/swamp monster B-movies. Unfortunately, they have been overshadowed by escalating gore and violence. This leave each classic looking more like an extended episode of the A-Team [].

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies []: Anything is more exciting with zombies and Jane Austen []'s dull novel certainly benefits. This wilfully inaccurate historical drama, a genre shared with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter [] and Snow White and the Seven Samurai [], features square dancing and blunderbuss [] zombie carnage.

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