By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
As folks continue to self-isolate, I’m not ready to admit defeat from all this COVID-19 madness. In this thought experiment, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
The modern Prometheus can give us hope instead of total destruction. Everyone is expecting the Night of the Living Dead to rise and tear humanity asunder. It’s the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, no less. Yes, tis the Day the Earth Stood Still. The alpha patient will destroy us all with this Resident Evil, and the Omega Man can give us hope. But can he rise to say, “I am Legend?”
Sounds like Pontypool to me. 28 Days Later, we may have a solution, but will it be a War of the Worlds? Nations will fight over how it’s best to defeat this invader. No word can be alluded too with all the devastation going on. We must have an Independence Day from this virus that’s easily defeated by soap and water, but yet be problematical to the very end. I suspect the Girl with all the Gifts has the answer, and that’s the fate we all have to face in this list of films looking at viruses and where we are at with the Covid-19 epidemic.
Thankfully, these films were not made to be strung together like this. However, barring problems with continuity, watching these films in this sequence can make for a truly scary narrative. On its own, however, it still says something about how viruses are spread and how we as humans can react to it.
Most of these films are available on one streaming service like Yahoo Movies, iTunes, Google Play or Netflix. Please check your provider for what’s available.
The opening act with this film implies an alien race known as The Engineers are responsible for creating most of life across the universe. Their DNA is liquified so it can fuse with water so that nearly all life that springs from it are harbingers of a greater design. Flash forward to the future, Peter Weyland, the elderly CEO of Weyland Corporation, wants a secret to immortality. The irony is that he’s found it (this movie functions as a sequel to Alien) with synthetic humanoids. But in this earlier timeline, we learn the origins of a destroyer species which we know. Anyone who is an Aliens and Predator fan knows the consequences of passing on the RNA from one species to another through viral means, and it isn’t quaint.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
No list can be right without mentioning the Living Dead series by George Romero. He set the precedence for every zombie movie to come. It spoke to a generation back then when it first premiered, and it still speaks to us now considering how we behave trying to get the bare necessities to survive.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
It’s tough to say which adaptation of Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers is better. When a small town gets invaded by alien plant spores and they “assimilate” nearby humans investigating what they are, the chaos that erupts with the film versions is with the lone protagonist who wants to alert the authorities so the threat can be contained. Like Little Shop of Horrors, the creature wants to propagate but it must consume in order to continue “colonization” of a new world.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
This landmark film is simple in its premise. Unless humanity can get its act together, we will not become part of a greater whole. It’s a science fiction work that examines what we are as humanity, and who is in control when faced with an alien force to show that humanity is not alone in the universe.
Resident Evil (2002)
Loosely based on the video game of the same name, this franchise delves into how the Umbrella Corporation is responsible for creating a T-virus which, in their original plan, is to make the host physically stronger but also be a slave. The side effect is a mindless capacity to wreck damage and they were science created zombies. In the six films made, we’d learn more about this organization’s goals. However, there’s really no longer a human behind everything. We have a machine. Do you want genetically modified coffee, Dave?
The Omega Man (1971)
Charlton Heston takes no crap, and as the only survivor of a plague caused by biowarfare, he will do everything he can to take down the mutants and also fellow humans. The latter are after him for a simple reason; he was a willing guinea pig for an experimental vaccine, and since he’s still alive and kicking, everyone wants him to move to the next step!
I Am Legend (2007)
The Darkseekers were born after the measles virus was genetically modified to cure another human altercation. Unfortunately, the results meant creating a new species of mutants. Will Smith’s importance is a mixed bag as this film was released, as his career was hitting the stratosphere. It has weight by the last bit and where it goes, at least the Director’s cut is worthy of the novel this movie has been adapted from.
Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is simply amazing in this movie. When reports of a virus are turning his town into a zombie horde, he’s not safe at his radio station. As he alerts his listeners to what’s going on, the “noise” outside only seems to be louder. This film is one which closes off in a fitting way where you have to use your imagination to figure out how everything ends, even though what happens is one George Romero approves.
28 Days Later (2002)
These words cannot ring any more true in Danny Boyle’s zombie thriller. It’s simply about survivors banding together, hoping to get rescued after the epidemic has decimated much of the United Kingdom. If survival cannot be any tougher, this film will deliver some timely warnings.
War of the Worlds (1953)
Too many adaptations of this classic H. G. Wells’ story exist and honestly, the radio play narrated by Orson Welles is still the best of them all. The first cinematic adaptation does better justice and forget the modern remake.
Anyone who knows this story will have to snicker. Despite all the best attempts to stop the alien invasion, a simple human ailment could set back plans. Anyone who has not seen a version is spared the spoiler so that they can enjoy this work, in any of its forms, as intended.
Independence Day (1996)
If the metaphor of aliens, possession and computer viruses can be made analogous to each other, this action adventure Will Smith film has plenty of fun to pack in. The premise is decent enough: what will humanity do when faced with overwhelming odds and an invader we don’t know how to defeat? We rely on Jeff Goldblum, of course, and the victory is certainly worth a huge party for everyone around the world. When Smith promises fireworks, this film certainly delivers.
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
When there’s no choice to accept the fact the pandemic is here, and there’s still no cure, perhaps the only choice is to accept it, isolate from it or in this movie’s case, learn how to adapt and isolate. This film is perfect in light of looking at how humanity must adapt. The twist ending may well portend in what our reality must do to stay safe.