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Binge Watch These 4 Pandemic and Viral Outbreak Movies for Serious Survival Tips

First you hear rumors on the web and watch a few videos on YouTube, that say a terrible virus is ravaging China. What little information the country allowed to escape its borders anyhow, thanks to authority sources like The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 The average person thinks “okay, that sucks, but I got my flu shot, I should be good”. The slightly more anxiety prone person thinks “oh $&#@, can that thing make it here to America?”. 

The horror movie fan on the other hand is like… “I’ve been training for this moment my whole life!”.  

Fist bump if you agree that the multitude of horror movies, series and books you may have read about post-apocalyptic life, global contagion, mysterious viruses and outbreaks have given you some serious survival chops?

Research.  It was research all along.  Since we are all sitting at home doing that ‘social distancing’ thing to prevent the virus from infecting everyone,  now is probably a good time to revisit some of those classic outbreak movies and glean some extra survival tips that could come in handy.  Particularly if this health threat continues longer than authorities think it will.

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Folks Are Streaming the Wrong Prepper Movies on Netflix (In Our Opinion)

Before you think it’s a little weird to be watching pandemic movies during a pandemic, Netflix reported a significant spike in the genre of outbreak and virus movies on Friday, March 20th. In fact, the Netflix original docuseries “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak” and the disaster movie “2012” were two of the highest streamed movies on Netflix this week.

Our take on those two titles? While the Netflix docuseries “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak” is very informative and interesting; we’re in a pandemic.  Not particularly useful information at this point, as we navigate the COVID-19 global health crisis. But at least you understand the ongoing work that health organizations do globally to prevent more of these devastating viruses from going ape shit on the human population. At this point though, we feel it’s a little redundant.

The disaster movie “2012” is a high action reaction to a cataclysmic global warming and flood event.  It’s not even about a virus.  Sure, Bill Gates resigned his leadership of Microsoft (we think he headed to a bunker) about a week before things got really bad, but unless volcanoes start popping off all over the world and you get an email for a lottery ticket to an Ark, probably not that useful.

Our Top 4 Practical Pandemic Training and Global Virus Movie Picks

After our team at Puzzle Box Horror scratched our heads (on Zoom… social distancing) and had our “holy #!%& this is real!” moment like the rest of the human race, we thought about the top five movie s that actually provided some valuable ‘how to’ in terms of survival tips for a global viral pandemic.

1. “The Stand” By Stephen King

Let’s ease you in with an epic, because if you have never watched or read “The Stand” you are missing out on some serious survival and prepper tips.  The story revolves around a slow but deliberately moving respiratory virus, or super flu called “Captain Trips” kills victims in less than a week with horrible pneumonia like symptoms and fever.  

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Key pandemic takeaways from this movie?

  • Stay home (it’s safer).
  • Dumb people who don’t take the virus seriously are usually to blame for pandemic spread (sigh).
  • Have a lot of unperishable foods.
  • A can opener is really important.
  • Know how to start a fire.
  • Laura San Giacomo is really hot.

Eventually in the movie the virus kills almost 95% of the human population. The book was first published by Stephen King in 1978 and it is a BIG book thanks to the character development of an epic good vs. evil end of days storyline, pitting survivors into two main groups.

2. “Dawn of the Dead” (1979) George C. Romero

No offense to Sarah Polley (love you!) and amazing cast of the remake of the George C. Romero zombie apocalypse movie “Dawn of the Dead”, but when it comes to survival tips, nothing beats the 1979 original.  

Forced from their homes in a rapid exit by helicopter in Philadelphia, an intrepid team of two SWOT officers, and two reporters find themselves setting down on top of a mega mall. After clearing the mall of said zombies, the survivors set up one of the most amazing doomsday shelters, having fun shopping for stock in the mall (and grocery store).

Key pandemic takeaways from this movie?

  • Non-perishable supplies are really important.
  • Have more than one exit to your home if you barricade yourself in.
  • Never underestimate the desire of people with no supplies, to steal your supplies.
  • Life is really boring without cable tv when you are quarantined.

For fans of the “Dawn of the Dead” series, did you know that Romero actually had a far darker ending written for the original movie? Instead of Peter (Ken Foree) changing his mind at the last minute with a gun to his head and fighting his way to the pregnant Francine (Gaylen Ross), the suicide is followed through.  Hearing the gun shot, Francine herself gives up hope, and walks straight into the helicopter blades. 

Bleak ending right? Romero said by the end of filming that he had become pretty attached to the characters of Peter and Francine and wanted to give them a ‘fighting chance” so he rewrote the ending into something indeterminant but with a possibility of survivorship. 

3. “12 Monkeys” (Screenplay by Janet and David Peoples)

Hearing that Cher song “if we could turn back time” and had the ability to time travel, would we send our best and brightest to Hunan China, shut down the despicable wildlife ‘wet markets’ where the animal virus made the jump to human super virus?  Hell yes.  Let’s do that.   Time travel would be particularly useful, since humans seem to make these critical errors of judgement the jeopardize the planet.  But we digress (unless someone has a time machine handy).

Key pandemic takeaways from “12 Monkeys”:

  • When we wreck the planet, there are consequences.
  • Time travel is really tricky.
  • As smart and strong as we are as a species, we can be wiped out by a microscopic virus.
  • Social distancing is crucial in outbreaks.

In this movie, our favorite American hero Bruce Willis is sent back from the year 2030 to the 1990s to intervene and prevent the unleashing of a virus that would wipe out most of the human population, sending survivors into the underground to hide from the infected.

4. “Outbreak” (Screenplay by Laurence Dworet and Robert Roy Pool)

Who doesn’t love Dustin Hoffman? The guy pretty much exudes everything that is good about Americans in general; smart, strong, and in this case, the world’s best defense against a super bug that kills with symptoms far worse that Ebola.  Which essentially liquifies your organs until you bleed to death on the inside.

Yeah, we don’t like Ebola.  And we thought COVID-19 and the injuring pneumonia symptoms were scary enough.   But the African Motaba virus is also airborne (like COVID-19), and in several instances throughout the movie you see how quickly an airborne virus can spread.  From something as simple as a cut on your finger to breathing it in through the ventilation system in a hospital.

And… now we want to order one of those big yellow inflatable level 4 lab outfits with independent oxygen and install a microbial cleansing shower in our garage.   Because you know people like Jack Ma, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos totally have one.  Sigh…

Key pandemic takeaways from “Outbreak”:

  • Airborne viruses spread really quickly.
  • Limiting your exposure and self-quarantine are effective ways to protect your family.
  • Viruses that jump from animal to human genomes are particularly deadly, because we have no antibodies or immunity against them.
  • Facemasks only protect you from inhaling viruses or coughing and spraying out moisture particles infected with the virus.  If you want to be out in public (only when you have to be) invest in a full mask and face shield that protects your eyes.  Viruses enter the body through mucus membranes and your eyes are two big open doors to viral infection.
  • People who don’t follow quarantine measures risk infecting thousands of people.
  • Human contact with exotic wildlife is the number one-way pandemic level viruses are created.
  • Marshall law is always a possibility in a pandemic (and it sucks).

One of the most important takeaways from the movie “Outbreak” is that there are really brilliant medical researchers working on a cure and vaccine, round the clock, and at their own peril.  And we should call these people heroes.  Because they are.

Make smart choices during the quarantine period.  Do not take unnecessary risks and even if you consider yourself to be very healthy, understand that one person who is not symptomatic for up to 14 days can infect thousands of people.   Stay home.  Binge on Netflix.  Alphabetize your horror DVD collection, but do your part to keep your friends, family and yourself safe.

And don’t forget to stock up on toilet paper. If you can find any.

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