I want your ugly, I want your disease
October 10, 2015 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Please be recommending to me your favorite (fictional, please) outbreak movies, books, and shows!

I've recently realized that a lot of my favorite time-waster things are thrillers about disease outbreaks. Lots of episodes of the show ReGenesis, the book Andromeda Strain, the movies Outbreak and Contagion...etc. Even games like Pandemic and, uh, Pandemic. But mostly I want more movies.

Any time the CDC or Ft Detrick is referenced my heart goes pitter patter. I prefer if the story centers around the epidemiology side of things--more about the scientist heroes than the schmoes dying in the streets.

I would like these to stay in the realm of realistic fiction, so stuff like I am Legend that turns the entire human race into monstervampires is less my cup of tea. No zombies or zombie-adjacents.

Historic ok, too, as long as it's not about real life. Fictional outbreaks: exciting! Real people dying: not so much.
posted by phunniemee to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Stand is the ur-example of this kind.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:56 AM on October 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


You didn't mention if you saw the movie for Andromeda Strain, but I thought the original one was excellent.
posted by Roger Dodger at 9:05 AM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Station Eleven is a particularly gorgeous recent example.
posted by chatongriffes at 9:05 AM on October 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


I don't think The Stand can be the ur-example in a world that has Journal of the Plague Year in it, as well as Camus' La peste (The Plague). Note that the Defoe book is a novel, not a historical account – as Wikipedia says, he was five years old in 1665 when the plague ravaged London – and the Camus is also a fictional work, based on a plague from almost a century before the setting of the book.
posted by zadcat at 9:11 AM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Exposed by Alex Kava. This book part of a mystery series but it probably isn't necessary to have read the preceding books.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:17 AM on October 10, 2015


It's Terry Gilliam, so YMMV on how realistic his vision is, but Twelve Monkeys is great and there are no zompires or anything.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:17 AM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


World War Z (2013) fits your criteria, but at your own risk.

Mimic (1997) is about people trying to track down a disease and deal with the after effects of the cure.

Dr Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940) is about the search for the actual cure for syphilis, Edward G Robinson, not sure if it will be trashy enough for you...

Will you consider hot alien space vampires freed from imprisonment on Halley's Comet as a disease vector? Because if so, you may love Lifeforce (1983).

The Satan Bug (1965)

I could have sworn there was a film similar to Outbreak which came out at around the same time but I can't find it, and now I am convincing myself it was the episode of Friends with Jean Claude van Damme.

Denofgeek's top ten disease movies.
posted by biffa at 9:31 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The epic novel The Passage (http://www.amazon.com/The-Passage-Novel-Book-Trilogy/dp/0345528174#productDescription_secondary_view_div_1444494652196)
posted by Sassyfras at 9:32 AM on October 10, 2015


I am also a fan of this genre, and have been sad for 10 years that there was only one season of the CSI of epidemiology, Medical Investigation. It may be hard to find, but it's 100% CDC drama.

I'll also second Emily St-John Mandel's Station Eleven, with the caveat that it's largely about the aftermath of the epidemic, and does not start any epidemiologists. Still a great book, though.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:42 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pontypool was interesting, though it deals more with the regular-folks side of things
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:07 AM on October 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


The White Plague, by Frank Herbert. There are criticisms of science and sexism, so ymmv based on what you feel like being exposed to (no pun intended).
posted by Gorgik at 10:30 AM on October 10, 2015


I meant, people criticize the science and sexism as written in the book.
posted by Gorgik at 10:31 AM on October 10, 2015


Heinlein's Puppet Masters
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:40 AM on October 10, 2015


The Plague by Albert Camus

By the way, "Love in the time of Cholera" is probably not what you want.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:43 AM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


"The Day of St. Anthony's Fire" is a true account, by John Grant Fuller Jr.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:45 AM on October 10, 2015


Definitely check out Mira Grant's Parasite! It's the first in what I think is going to be a trilogy; the second book, Symbiont, is also out.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:58 AM on October 10, 2015


"The Cobra Event" by Richard Preston.
posted by slime at 1:08 PM on October 10, 2015


reminding everyone that the Op is asking for FICTIONAL outbreaks, so GHOST MAP and JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR may be out.

Thirding STATION ELEVEN, which does deal with the aftermath of the plague a lot, but does jump back and forth in time and does have some immediate post-plague bits.

Two movies - CONTAGION and OUTBREAK. I forget which is which, but one has Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey trying to contain an outbreak carried by an escaped monkey and the other has Gwyneth Paltrow as the Patient Zero for a mega-flu (she dies early on).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:57 PM on October 10, 2015


Plague City: SARS in Toronto is a rather ludicrous TV movie dramatization of a real outbreak...
posted by misteraitch at 3:07 PM on October 10, 2015


Connie Willis's Doomsday Book -- two epidemics, one in the past, one in the future.
posted by pie ninja at 3:53 PM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake trilogy does this nicely (but they don't contain the epidemic).
posted by Mchelly at 5:22 PM on October 10, 2015


I know you said no zombies, but Mira Grant's (Seanan McGuire's) Newsflesh books focus a lot on the CDC, science-y aspects of the outbreak. McGuire apparently called the CDC repeatedly when she was researching the first book:

"The first time I called the CDC, I said that I wanted to talk to someone about possibly designing a zombie virus. …So every time I came up with a new iteration of Kellis-Amberlee, I would call back and say, “If I did this, this, this, this, this and this, could I raise the dead?” And every single time they would say, “No.” And I’d say, “OK,” hang up, and go back to working. After about the 17th time, I called and said, “If I did this, this, this, this, this, this and this, could I raise the dead?” And got, “Don’t … don’t do that.” At that point, I knew I had a viable virus."
posted by bibliowench at 7:01 PM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear has some great CDC containment action, as well as a visceral & mysterious plague. (I always warn people: there's lots of squicky pregnancy stuff in it, so if that's off-putting, skip it.)

Also: I've never read Robin Cook, but I know people who can't get enough of his medical thrillers.

Nthing The Plague and The Doomsday Book, amazing books both.
posted by miles per flower at 7:32 PM on October 10, 2015


Survivors (2008), is about the aftermath of a plague that wipes out the majority of humanity. It's a remake of Survivors (1975), by Terry Nation of Doctor Who and Blake's 7 fame.

Both are quite bleak, but the 70s version is unremittingly so.

Not about a plague, but you might like Day Of The Triffids (1981), where a comet causes mass-blindness giving some sentient plants an opportunity to take over the world. There was a dodgy remake in 2009, with Eddie Izzard. It's based on a book by John Wyndham.
posted by veedubya at 11:28 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dust, by Charles R. Pellegrino. He's one hell of a writer (whether fiction or nonfiction), and he knows his science. The whole thing seemed terrifyingly plausible when I read it.
posted by bryon at 12:06 AM on October 11, 2015


Blood Music by Greg Bear is excellent.
posted by h00py at 1:16 AM on October 11, 2015


World of Warcraft, the massively multiplayer online video game, had some plague incidents that are pretty interesting, and make for some good case studies

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrupted_Blood_incident
posted by Jacen at 10:42 AM on October 12, 2015


You might like the Android game Plague, Inc.. It's Pandemic from the other side, very good.
posted by anaelith at 5:21 AM on October 16, 2015


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