Well, that escalated…

Pretty sure this time last year I was trying to catch up on several tv shows. I was very busy and the quiet season wasn’t going to happen that May….. this year, I am currently on 5 or 6 new shows and I’m rewatching a bunch of old ones. You may know why….. the world changed in a heartbeat on the 25th of March, 2020. New Zealand went into lockdown because of an unprecedented situation. Queenstown came to a standstill. There are no more visitors, there are no hotels open, there are no cafes or restaurants. Fergburger is silent. There is no tourism. We’re still here though. The locals are having a great time rediscovering their neighbourhoods without sneering at coach drivers and ‘tsking’ at Chinese tour groups. We’re 2 weeks into lockdown and the reality of a tourist town without tourists hasn’t resonated with everyone yet. The ramifications are still a little way off so let’s stay in our bubbles and catch up on all those little house jobs. Go on, paint the roof, tidy the garage, play that video game, get up at 1130 and of course watch a bunch of films!

So to help you out the theme of this blog is:

KIM’S TOP TEN ‘DISEASE OF THE WEEK’ MOVIES

Get your dose of conspiracies, plagues, biohazard suits and freak yourself out at the possibly very short lifespan you could have for a myriad of terrifying reasons. Of course, you know I am a fan of Horror so there is a leaning towards the genre, and for this purpose zombies are also included in the disease/contagion theme. There is also crossover with ‘post apocalyptic’ titles whose origins stem from a strange disease. Honourable mentions in this case are ‘World War Z’, ‘Birdbox’ and ‘A Quiet Place’. I have not put alien based films on the list, even though they invade us- often taking over our bodies and insidiously destroying civilisation too! But they need their own list. Similarly, vampire films are not added. Although ‘vampirism as a disease’ is a theme in many films, I think vampire movies also need their own list. So here we go with my favourite disease movies.

10 ‘Contagion’ 2011- Yes, this was good. The use of ‘real’ celebrities succumbing to the pandemic along with everyday people was refreshing back in 2011. Oh, those heady days when movies weren’t real world commentaries, and wash your hands, Gwynneth. To be honest, any film that ends up with some part of her in a box is worthy.

9 ‘Cabin Fever’ 2002- This is an enjoyable horror with good Eli Roth humour- I love the shaving scene in the bath. Cinematically it harks back to the 1980s horror trope of- group of teenagers-a weekend away to a remote cabin-an unseen threat starts to attack the perky party-they die. But instead of a Freddie or a Michael Myers, a microbe has infected the teens. Will anyone survive???

8 ‘Mom and Dad’ 2017- Surprisingly good. Nicholas Cage only on 170/100 on the Cage Guage. He is brilliant in this odd number which is a dark discourse on parenting and it is gruesome. It doesn’t hold back on the gore. A strange malaise takes over the adults who need to sort out their ungrateful offspring.

7 ‘Cujo’ 1981- Come on, of course it’s a disease movie, and brilliant. The suspense, the claustrophobia, the heat stroke, and to top it all off- Rabies. The dog acting in this is fearful and fantastic. Very good performances from the actors too. Derived from a short story by Steven King it is a testament to good story telling with minimum cast, set limitations and animals.

6 ‘Rec’ 2007- This Spanish, found footage film displays all that is great about ‘foreign’ horror. The American remake- ‘Quarantine’ is not as good. In the film, an apartment block is locked down as a strange ailment takes the residents out. Nice shout out to ‘Cujo’ in this and it adds a demonic, Catholic church cover up to the plot when patient zero is revealed.

5 ‘Children of Men’ 2006- This has one of the most moving final action sequences ever put to film. Very well written and executed- just watch it.

4 ’28 days Later’ 2002- Dark and satisfying. This film is just a cracker. I wouldn’t describe it as a zombie flick. Those with ‘the Rage’ are almost incidental to the decline of humanity portrayed by the un-infected. Is the rest of the world sliding into the dark ages too or is Britain trapped in an all too telling experiment?

3 ’12 Monkeys’ 1995- A both complex and entertaining sci fi. Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt are brilliant. This was one of my favourite films for years. The timey-wimey stuff shows us a disease has destroyed humanity after an outbreak in 1996. Our hero is sent back from 2035 to stop it. His mad ideas land him in a mental institution and he must convince someone the 12 Monkeys need to be stopped. He gets a whole lot wrong and the world was always doomed.

2 ‘And the Band Played On’ 1993- This is a great documentary style film about the origin and discovery of HIV. It is an incredibly riveting example portraying a very realistic response to a very real threat. The excellent use of time lines and medical reaction does not interfere with the very human story underpinning the narrative.

1 ‘Outbreak’ 1995- This film freaked me out for years and I was convinced humanity was doomed to die from some new virus that no one knew was coming, could not be stopped and was incredibly contagious…. However, it did alleviate my fears we were all going to die in a nuclear war (thanks ‘Threads’). It surprised me to learn that I was 24 when I saw it. The impact it had on me was more like something that caused a deep seated, pre teen, post traumatic, paranoid event in my psychological development. It’s just a great, well paced, well acted piece of cinema. Dustin Hoffman is superb.

And the prize for epidemically not worth watching goes to:

‘The Happening’ – Just terrible.

So I hope you enjoyed my little run down of pandemic themed films to while away the time till we all try and rebuild our careers, the economy, and our immune systems.

Be well humans.