It’s the season!

It seems to me that far more zombie/disease related films come out during the fall/winter than do in the spring/summer. I’m not exactly sure why, but I would speculate it has something to do with zombie films not being able to stand up to huge summer blockbusters like “The Dark Knight” or other superhero movies or action films that inevitably pour into theaters each summer.

So it’s the season for zombie/vampire/disease films. And there is a gem circulating in theaters now that anyone with an interest in disease would be a fool to miss.

This is not because it is a terribly well made movie, or even with good acting or writing. But the film successfully nails EVERY major theme I highlighted in my thesis as the main components of a disease film.

The film is Quarantine. It has no one recognizable, with the exception of “The Vet” who is played by that guy who was on Ally McBeal and some other shit. *Shrugs* The characters are mostly forgettable, some of the dialogue is right down terrible and acting is enough to make you cringe.

And while some viewers get irritated/headaches/motion sickness from the handheld Blair Witch style camera movement (which is having a hell of a comeback) — I think it highlights the most important theme of the film (the tight close ups and personal interviews highlight the claustrophobia the characters feel from the…ahem…Quarantine…)

But the concept is brilliant.


The story begins with a pretty, if probably not too bright, reporter trailing a team of firemen for the night. The first part of the story is told from the fire station where not much is happening. It’s a poor attempt to get us to get to know and like the characters…ok…we’ll bite for a minute.

Finally a call comes in and as a handful of police men and firement go into the building to attend to an unknown problem, they are informed by the landlord that there were screams coming from an old ladies apartment.

As they go to attend to the woman the camera tries to zoom further and further in. The audience can hear her growling and eventually can see her foaming and drooling at the mouth.

While the characters themselves don’t actually find out until much later in the film, I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you, dear reader, now. It’s rabies. Cool, huh? Yeah, I thought so too. Especially after reading RANT which featured rabies in such a terrifying way.

With news stories of rabies outbreaks in South America I think this movie is perfectly timed to scare the shit out of everyone…or me at least. As far as I know, rabies spreads from animal to human on rare occasions and (I could be wrong, but someone fact check me) as of right now…never from human to human. But what I do KNOW about diseases with my very limited background in sciences is that diseases are constantly mutating and evolving. So why not?

And of course…since I’ve said it a million times, rabies shares its etymology with RAGE. So the “infected” of this film are so lovingly reminiscent of those in 28 Days Later. It made me giggle. There was dialogue to make sure the audience understood that these people weren’t zombies. They were living and they were angry, and their brains were no longer their own.

So the conclusion I have come to…zombies aren’t cool anymore. The living are the new undead. We no longer care about zombies, we care about the diseases that make us feel like zombies, act like zombies, look like zombies.



  1. An Iconography of Contagion

    Tis the season also for a new exhibit called “An Iconography of Contagion” at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC.

    Here’s the press

    “This exhibition features more than 20 health posters from the 1920s to the 1990s. Covering infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, gonorrhea, and syphilis, the posters come from North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

    These posters provide insight into the interplay between the public’s understanding of disease and society’s values. They reflect the fears and concerns of the time and also the medical knowledge that was available. Considered an art form, many are beautiful and entertaining, but during their heyday, they sought to educate people on matters of life and death.

    Public health took a visual turn about 100 years ago. In an era of devastating epidemic and endemic infectious disease, health professionals began to organize coordinated campaigns that sought to mobilize public and government action through eye-catching posters, pamphlets, and motion pictures. Impressed by the images of mass media that increasingly saturated the world around them, health campaigners were inspired to present new figures of contagion, and recycle old ones, using modernist aesthetics, graphic manipulations, humor, dramatic lighting, painterly abstraction, distortions of perspective, and other visual strategies. They devised a new iconography of contagion that emphasized visual legibility and the pleasure of the view.

    An exhibition catalog is available upon request.
    To download a PDF file of the exhibition catalog, follow this link

    Hmmm… so how do we create icons for the contagions of 2008? And, for that matter, what would be the “pleasure of the view”?

  2. Yikes….Pamela….this comment has been sitting in my spam box for MONTHS. Shame on me….

    So sorry.

    Really interesting images. Can’t wait to take a closer look at them. May come in handy for my Art and Catastrophe class.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s