Recommend a zombie movie for a high school setting
November 29, 2011 4:00 PM   Subscribe

What movie should I show my class about the spread of infection?

I am currently in my first practicum as a student teacher, and one class is doing a unit on disease, public health, and [at most punnett square level] genetics.
We're working through this unit much faster than they're probably used to, so I would like to set aside 2 half-periods to watch a movie to tie things together and reward their hard work.

While I imagine that any zombie movie will work, I don't feel like getting in trouble by showing something too full of gore/nudity, and I am also not well versed in film enough to feel like I have made the best choice. A movie that does not blatantly contradict what they are being taught would also be helpful.

In case it is relevant, which it might be, this is a grade 11 science class at the lowest [3rd] level, and likely the last science course these students will ever take. Mostly these students are clever, but do not attend school [for various reasons] often enough to continue in the regular stream.
posted by Acari to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Outbreak might be good here. It's somewhat lengthy (127 minutes), but if you're willing to skip some of the character development/moral wrangling stuff, it's got all sorts of goodies related to the spread of a Really Nasty Disease.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 4:21 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I second Outbreak! Scary idea.

Andromeda Strain. Oldie but goodie.

I Am Legend. Scares the daylights out of me because I live in NYC.
posted by Yellow at 4:28 PM on November 29, 2011

They showed us The Andromeda Strain when I was in high school. No idea if the newer remake is any good.

I seem to recall 28 Days Later as not having been all that gory. Most of the violence is implied through editing, except when someone's eyes are gouged out. And, er, tons of people vomit blood everywhere.

You could play the zombie parodies from The Simpsons and Community.

You would be my hero if you'd show Pontypool, but that would be educational in a different way.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:29 PM on November 29, 2011

Nthing Outbreak and I am Legend.
posted by royalsong at 4:34 PM on November 29, 2011

Outbreak earned an R rating for I dunno what, but here are some educational resources for it. Contagion earned a PG-13, has a slightly higher IMDB rating (whatever that's worth), and garnered mild praise for its treatment of the science.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 4:38 PM on November 29, 2011

Warning Sign


The Crazies
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:38 PM on November 29, 2011

Contagion was great. It's was scientifically reasonable, well acted, well paced, addressed socioeconomics, didn't have a completely ridiculous ending and I don't remember any nudity or violence.

If you want a movie about Washing Your Hands that's the one.
posted by fshgrl at 5:00 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Contagion. For me, the story was scary because it was realistic; there was no need for zombies. Bonus, it features a young teen and the impact of the epidemic on her life - a character your students might relate to.
posted by kbar1 at 5:03 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

2nd Warning Sign for similar science-y reasons; as I recall it doesn't demonize science and they solve their problem with cleverness, not braun.
posted by phearlez at 5:04 PM on November 29, 2011

No zombies, but for the intersection of infectious disease, public health, and genetics, And the Band Played On would be a good choice.
posted by Bokmakierie at 5:11 PM on November 29, 2011

You might also consider playing the game Pandemic. It's fun and all about disease spreading around the world.
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:30 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

28 Days Later
posted by thesunumbrella at 5:50 PM on November 29, 2011

Another vote for Contagion, for the reasons given above.

The handling of the science is genuinely suburb, with clear explanations of transmission methods (aerosols, fomites), incubation times, basic epidemiology concepts, vaccine development, etc. There's nothing in the film that's wrong, and a great deal of incidental, blink-and-you'll-miss-it background detail that they could have bluffed but took the time to get right.

Plus it's actually a pretty great story with a very good cast. Much less high-octane than e.g. I Am Legend with no creepy dark spaces and little or no violence, but very gripping/moving all the same.

It's probably worth noting that most of the protagonists are professionals and often parents, so your class might not engage as well. There is a romantic storyline centered on two teens though.

Fair warning: I think it was genuinely a good, general-interest film, but I'm a virus geek so my opinion of it is probably biased.
posted by metaBugs at 5:57 PM on November 29, 2011

Okay! It looks like I have some good choices to check out this weekend. I've only seen 28 Days Later, which I assumed was rated R, but I think that Contagion and Outbreak are clearly popular options.

From what I just read about Pontypool, it is going in my own personal viewing list, along with The Crazies. I think that And the Band Played On might be an excellent choice, but I am not confident that I could properly deal with the ensuing class discussion.

Thanks for your help!
You have no idea how hard it is not to sign up for 7 different accounts to ask lesson planning / classroom management questions EVERY DAY.
posted by Acari at 6:27 PM on November 29, 2011

Contagion is great but there are not yet any legit sources for it AFAIK.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:54 PM on November 29, 2011

Yes, I see that the DVD comes out more than a month after I plan to show the movie, so that helps me narrow down the choices.
posted by Acari at 7:11 PM on November 29, 2011

Aw, come on, Mr. Acari.... Field trip!
posted by looli at 7:17 PM on November 29, 2011

If you do Outbreak, please point out that the cure was done way faster than it would be IRL. It was a CSI level magical science error.
posted by Logic Sheep at 9:46 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Black Death is a movie about an actual, real life outbreak of the bubonic plague. It is on DVD, 102 minutes long and rated R for extreme violence.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:51 AM on November 30, 2011

Not a movie, but you may find interest in MMORPG epidemics.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:28 AM on November 30, 2011

If you are willing to look at tv, the first episode of Regenesis is a great search for patient zero.
posted by girlpublisher at 3:34 PM on November 30, 2011

I watched Outbreak with a bio class and I remember being appropriately terrified but also embarrassed when there was some making out. Not a huge deal, but something PG-13 might be less mortifying for your students.
posted by rmless at 4:34 PM on November 30, 2011

Hey, this isn't a movie, but I just listened to the Radiolab podcast on viruses and Patients Zero, and it was really accessible and interesting.
posted by looli at 7:45 PM on December 4, 2011

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