I spent most of last week being quite ill.
Like most people, when I’m sick I assume it’s the beginning of a global pandemic that may well end life on this planet. You say it’s the sniffles, I say it’s the opening credits of Survivors. Remember Survivors?
With all the bioterror angst around, I’m surprised the BBC hasn’t decided to remake Survivors. Mind you, I guess if they did it now it’d have to be all gritty and northern, and they’d probably stick half the cast of Doctor Who in it. What? They already have?
Well thank you, TV Zone.
According to the BBC, “Its themes remain as relevant as ever and while we will be staying faithful to many aspects of the original, we will also be bringing the story into the 21st Century and making it accessible to contemporary audiences.”
Expect a lot of bickering about Coronation Street, then. Paterson Joseph‘s in it, though, so it can’t be all bad.
Anyway, spending half the week on the couch in a fevered delirium isn’t a very good way of getting things done. So there may well be a little less of The Outland Institute in the next week or so.
Meanwhile, here’s today’s extremely truncated list:
Seven Diseases You Can Get From The Movies
The Rage Virus – 28 Days Later (2002)
The perfect virus for those who like travelling, raging and eating people. In a somewhat unnecessary opening scene to the otherwise excellent 28 Days Later, animal-rights activists release a chimpanzee hoping for some crazy Every Which Way But Loose hijinks. Not realising that was a fun-loving orangutan and not an infected chimp, they are mercilessly slaughtered and the Rage virus makes its way out into the world.
Measles/Cure For Cancer/Vampirism – I Am Legend (2007)
Here’s why Emma Thomson is a true star – in I Am Legend she both a) cures cancer, and b) destroys humanity – and that’s before the opening credits. There’s a woman who gets things done. A genetically re-engineered measles virus, created as a cure for cancer, mutates into a lethal airborne strain that kills 90% of those infected, turning the rest into… well, they’re… sort of vampire things… kind of… Look it’s Will Smith!
Wandering Sickness – Things To Come (1936)
This epic, sprawling Alexander Korda production follows the fall-and-rise of “Everytown”, starting with the outbreak of a world war in (the then future) 1940. From that frighteningly prescient beginning the film becomes increasingly unhinged, as the war goes on for decades. By 1966, civilization has fallen back into barbarism, and “The Wandering Sickness” breaks out. Victims fall into a feverish coma, then walk – zombie-like – into the wastelands to die. By 1967, one half of the human population is wiped out by The Wandering Sickness. No wonder Smokey Robinson released “Tears Of A Clown” that year.
Eventually things cheer up and the film ends with a bunch of scientists in long white gowns planning to send the first rocket to the moon. In 2036.
Things To Come is an odd mix of superb design and set pieces with appalling dialogue and wooden acting. I suspect if it had been made as a silent film – which it often feels like – it would actually be more enjoyable today than it is. That said, look at this astonishing sequence showing the start of the war:
Bubonic Plague – Panic In The Streets (1950)
Plot description – “A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with bubonic plague.” Honestly, why can’t all films have this plot? Or at the very least, as a sub plot? “A recently divorced man must learn to care for his son on his own, and fight in court to keep custody of him. Meanwhile, a doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with bubonic plague. Stars Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep.”
An even worse form of Bubonic Plague – The Plague Dogs (1982)
“Snitter and Rowf escape from an animal-testing laboratory and attempt to fend for themselves. The institute, however, believes them to be carrying a bioweapon strain of bubonic plague, and sets out to either recapture or kill them.” Directed by Micheal Rosen from a novel by Richard Adams, Plague Dogs is like Watership Down only much more depressing. Also, it has dogs in it, rather than rabbits.
Saturday Night Fever – Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Like Ross River Fever, only funkier.
You know what? There are so many other films involving disease, I’ve only started to scratch the scab. Please feel free to contribute your favourites in the comments below.