What are some good books or movies (fiction or non-fiction) that are based around animals, natural disasters, viruses (or all 3)?
May 12, 2007 3:43 PM   Subscribe

What are some good books or movies (fiction or non-fiction) that are based around animals, natural disasters, viruses (or all 3)?

I've got this guilty pleasure for books and movies that revolve around freak incidents that involve animals, natural disasters, virus outbreaks, etc etc.

Think cheesy "Made for TV" movies about rattlesnakes that infest a town (or ants, bees, spiders, whatever) and cause all sorts of issues, virus outbreaks that cause entire cities to be quarantined, The Day After Tomorrow, or The Beast In The Garden (a book I'm currently reading).

You know...after I type all of that out it looks completely morbid. Regardless, I've got an itch for cheesy entertainment. :)
posted by JPigford to Grab Bag (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely check out Crichton for reading material - everything from "mundane" superviruses to swarms of intelligent, evil nanorobots to fulfill your lust for cheesy doom.
posted by Rallon at 3:52 PM on May 12, 2007

12 Monkeys
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 3:52 PM on May 12, 2007

"Blindness" by Jose Saramago. A fantastic book, but also ripe for filming as an HBO tv series.
posted by fire&wings at 3:52 PM on May 12, 2007

I'm confused. First you ask for "good books or movies," and then you ask for "cheesy entertainment." Is it possible for something to be both good and cheesy?

As for books, if you're a fan of good sci-fi, Connie Willis's Doomsday Book involves viruses, and is excellent. As for good movies, probably the best one (though it takes place both after and before the virus outbreak, not during) is Twelve Monkeys.
posted by cerebus19 at 3:54 PM on May 12, 2007

Night of the Lepus, of course! Giant mutant rabbits terrorize the southwest!!
posted by Sassyfras at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2007

For nonfiction, there's the venerable Plagues and Peoples by William McNeill. (I assume you'd go for a good bacterial pandemic as well as viruses.)
posted by Quietgal at 4:06 PM on May 12, 2007

The Plauge Dogs by Richard Adams. Best known for Watership Down, this later book is also from the animals point of view, this time that of two dogs who have escaped a testing facility and may be infected with a dangerous virus.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:07 PM on May 12, 2007


Nonfiction: Rat
posted by Packy_1962 at 4:11 PM on May 12, 2007

The SciFi channel recently aired a movie called "Creature" about a shark that grows arms and legs and walks around eating people. It was extraordinary.
posted by jiiota at 4:11 PM on May 12, 2007

So, I was half kidding about "Creature." It's extraordinarily bad, but I had fun watching it. I remember actually (non-ironically) liking The Stand, however. And I remember thinking that Tremors (the first one) was a surprisingly good movie for what a low budget it must have had.
posted by jiiota at 4:14 PM on May 12, 2007

Frogs scared the hell out of me when I was little.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:14 PM on May 12, 2007

And I would like to second 28 Days Later and to add 28 Weeks Later.
posted by jiiota at 4:16 PM on May 12, 2007

For books, lots of post-apocalyptic stories exist that touch fit this category. Check out these two prior askmes.
posted by procrastination at 4:29 PM on May 12, 2007

It isn't quite a book or a movie, but WE3, a story about a cat, dog and rabbit given cybernetic enhancements in a military experiment is a rather kick ass comic book. And really, a comic book is like the best parts of books and movies in one convenient package.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:31 PM on May 12, 2007

So you mean cheesy disaster/adventure/suspense movies where the disaster has to do with animals or viruses? Too many to list!

The Birds
Jurassic Park (lots of Michael Crichton books are good for this, as mentioned above)
Planet of the Apes?
King Kong?
Reign of Fire?
Eight Legged Freaks
Then, cheeseball movies from before about 1980, with more primitive effects etc:
Godzilla et al
The Swarm
Squirm (Mystery Science Theater 3000 has an episode with this; worth getting that version)
Kingdom of the Spiders
Day of the Triffids is about mobile attacking plants and a plague of blindness

28 Days Later
12 Monkeys
The Andromeda Strain
Omega Man
sort of Ultraviolet, Aeon Flux
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:34 PM on May 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mount Dragon is a good supervirus yarn.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:55 PM on May 12, 2007

Ah! The birds, of course. Best ever.
posted by jiiota at 5:42 PM on May 12, 2007

Definitely check out Lester Del Rey's Badge of Infamy. You can download the audiobook for free (mp3 format) at librivox.org.
posted by gaiamark at 5:59 PM on May 12, 2007

I was always quite partial to The Animals of Farthing Wood. No natural disasters or viruses ... but ah, the memories.
posted by Xere at 7:13 PM on May 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far!

What about things like television series? Seems like I once caught a episode of something on like HBO or Bravo a few years back...though I could be way off on that.
posted by JPigford at 8:10 PM on May 12, 2007

richard preston's the hot zone is a true story about a nonlethal ebola variant infecting a lab full of monkeys in reston, virginia.
posted by bruce at 8:50 PM on May 12, 2007

posted by paulinsanjuan at 9:03 PM on May 12, 2007

If you do go for "Them", watch for Leonard Nimoy.
OK, you'll miss it (I did), he's the teletype operator.
It was 50 years ago, he was younger then.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:13 PM on May 12, 2007

    For books, lots of post-apocalyptic stories exist that touch fit this category. Check out these two prior askmes.
I wish I had known about (or searched for) those questions when I asked mine. Here's one more thread that I found linked from one of the threads that procrastination mentioned.

Apparently, Wikipedia has a list.
And here are two from Amazon that were also linked from that same thread: Films and Books
posted by philomathoholic at 11:54 PM on May 12, 2007

Let me tell you a book in this category not to read, in case someone somewhere recommends it -- The Brief History of the Dead. Totally worthless.
posted by salvia at 12:15 AM on May 13, 2007

Having just seen 28 Weeks Later, I recommend it and 28 Days Later. nthing 12 Monkeys

Also, World War Z by Max Brooks is fantastic, as is The Road by Cormac McCarthy
posted by gemmy at 7:31 AM on May 13, 2007

Top 11 Animal Attack Movies
posted by salvia at 10:45 AM on May 13, 2007

Taronga by Victor Kelleher

Z for Zachariah by Robert O'Brian

Had to read both in school. Morbid teachers, I tell you.
posted by kjs4 at 12:05 AM on May 14, 2007

Oh, and Robin Cook.
posted by kjs4 at 12:07 AM on May 14, 2007

If you haven't seen 28 Days Later yet (or the sequel) read - The Day of the Triffids (1951) first. Although the "disaster" is virus in 28 Days Later there are a lot of parallels between the two and the director admitted to being influenced by the book.

It's about what we would call today a GMO plant whose value as a biofuel trumps it's less desireable characteristics that, when the world is blinded by a freak comet event, suddenly finds it has a significant advantage over the human population.

Also, if you can handle the gore factor, you should check out some of Scott Sigler's free podiobooks.
posted by rosebengal at 10:40 AM on May 14, 2007

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