Down with the Sickness

By Chris Kavan - 09/25/10 at 03:41 PM CT

As I feel under the weather today, I thought what better time than to relive all the diseases that movies have given us. At least I know I don't have it as bad as some people.

1) 28 Days Later / 28 Weeks Later - You can't convince me these are zombie movies (which is why they're not on my list) - It's a very specific diseases called RAGE that infects people. They don't necessarily want to eat you, they just want to rip you limb from limb, tear out your vital organs, smash in your face, dig in your eyeballs and run really, really fast. The ability to pass on the disease it outrageously easy - especially watch out for those Typhoid Mary-types and don't take any vacations in France.

2) The Stand - I'm not cheating - this mini-series introduced us to one of Stephen King's most insidious creations - the government-sponsored virus the Superflu aka Captain Trips. With a nearly 100% mortality rate, this bug wipes out almost the entire population of the U.S. (and by extension, the rest of the world) leaving only a handful of people to restart society. It also leads to an epic showdown of good vs. evil, but I'll leave that alone and focus on the nasty bug which starts out like any normal flu, but soon moves on to swelling, delirium and ultimately death as your lungs fill with fluid and you drown in your own sickness.

3) I Am Legend - Depending on which version of I Am Legend (The Omega Man or the Will Smith remake) you have seen, this disease can be quite different. However, with the sensitivity to light and nocturnal attacks, Richard Matheson was really turning vampirism into a true-life disease. As sole survivor Will Smith can attest, despite him believing that all people had devolved into mindless animals thanks to the KV virius, they were still thinking. In Omega Man they were not only thinking, but jive talking and using (non-mechanical) weapons - and burning books and art.

4) Blindness - Despite being a total downer of a movie, Blindness (and by all accounts the book it is based on) begins with what is later revealed to be a wide-ranging (possibly world-wide) epidemic of blindness. However, the blindness had nothing to do with the eyes, as they are perfectly normal, people just see a blinding whiteness, hence the name White Blindness. As far as non-fatal diseases go, this is by far one of the more ingenious ideas to come around.

5) The Masque of Red Death - An oldie but a goodie - Edgar Allan Poe conceived this little nugget of death that causes victims to convulse and sweat blood and shortly thereafter die in some kind of terrible agony within a half hour. In the tale a gaggle of wealthy lords and ladies holed up in an abbey are trying to avoid this Red Death by holding a masquerade, but one uninvited guest spoils things by killing them all - proving not even the most attractive or richest of people can escape death. Allegory or just a great horror classic?

So while I cough and sweat and shake, at least I can be of some comfort that I won't start bleeding from my pores or turn into a vampire, go blind or fly into a RAGE. I'll feel better soon, at least I hope so.

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