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#276. Spread the Sickness

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Winter is now weeks behind us and the colds that go with it have been replaced by seasonal allergies and the arrival of spring. Most of the time we tolerate being sick because we know that it will soon be over and we can go back to our regular lives. In fact, we might even continue to live our lives, despite our ailments. Because some people resort to this, and not to resting in bed, they spread their sickness to everyone around them. Sure, they might cover their mouth when they cough, and they might sneeze into their elbow, but those germs still get out and infect everyone else. This is what can make being sick a gamble: germs are so small that we can’t know where they’ll spread. This week’s two films look into the theme of spreading a sickness.

ContagionContagion
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.76 hours

We live in a global environment. Consequently, certain diseases that might have caused endemics before inter-continental travel became common can now reach pandemic levels. The Ebola scare from a few years ago showed that some of these severe sicknesses can travel across the oceans to potentially infect whole new populations. In film, this topic is rarely covered, but when it is, the result is usually catastrophic. Take Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) for example. A deadly virus that affects humans, but not apes, accidentally infects a traveler on his way to an airport. From there, the virus spreads to each continent and the death toll becomes enormous. By the time Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) rolls around, humanity is just trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. If only the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) could have stopped the spread of the virus, the issue could have been contained.

Never before has a film impelled an audience to wash their hands. From bat to pig to human, the unknown virus, MEV-1 spreads from Hong Kong to the United States. Once it reaches America, some sudden deaths prompt the CDC to investigate. While they try to extract the origins of the virus so that they can develop an effective immunization, panic grips the population. With the mortality rate of the virus being above 25%, most are afraid that they will catch it and die. Not helping the situation, some people are immune, but others lie about their gained immunity to help boost sales of medications that cannot cure the disease. Since tensions are high around the country and in the CDC, certain corners are cut to progress the research of the virus, and some employees of the CDC use their insider information to attempt to save their families. Fortunately, an inoculation is found and the world is now saved from MEV-1.

Night of the Living DeadNight of the Living Dead
Year: 1968
Rating: Unrated
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours

In terms of a global war on sickness, the World Health Organization (WHO) is leading the fight to help keep the entire planet from experiencing a debilitating pandemic. One of their most recent representations on film has been through World War Z (2013). While there may be simple ways to keep microscopic germs from infecting humans through vigorous washing, widespread sterilization, and outright quarantine, what if the sickness is a little more mobile? What if the sickness can find you and attack you, even despite your best efforts? The most common form of this type of sickness is that of zombies. Perhaps the reason so many zombie-related storylines devolve into a full-on global apocalypse is because their mobility and mob mentality help to spread the sickness of the living dead.

After a bizarre incident in a graveyard, Barbra Blair (Judith O’Dea) finds herself on the run after a stranger attacked her and her brother. With her brother now dead, she makes her way to a farmhouse where more individuals like the stranger in the graveyard appear and start to scare her away. Fortunately, Ben (Duane Jones) pulls her inside the house and repels the monsters. What they don’t yet know is that a married couple is locked away in the basement with their daughter. From the radio, Ben learns that the reason the recently deceased are coming back to life and devouring the flesh of the living is due to some radioactivity from an exploded satellite that came back to Earth. He also learns that groups of vigilantes are killing the zombies all over the countryside. Unfortunately, he has enough zombies to deal with inside and outside the house and just barely survives long enough to enjoy the sunrise of a new day.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 spreading sicknesses

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