PANIC IN THE STREETS (Elia Kazan, 1950) Contrary to its title, a modest, controlled little noir, centered on an outbreak of bubonic plague in New Orleans. Patient zero is an illegal alien.
THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (Robert Wise, 1971) Michael Crichton’s scenario substitutes laboratory technobabble for gross-out scares, as scientists quietly battle an extraterrestrial bug that turns blood into powder.
THE CRAZIES (George A. Romero, 1973) A biowarfare experiment goes wrong, discharging deadly microbes and prompting a government cover-up. Martial law is imposed and the military resorts to shoot-to-kill measures.
SHIVERS (David Cronenberg, 1975) Or almost anything from the Canadian master’s disease-ridden oeuvre. In this seminal early work, a venereally transmitted parasite turns the residents of a Toronto high-rise into erotomanic zombies.
THE CASSANDRA CROSSING (George P. Cosmatos, 1976) The token virus entry in the ’70s disaster-movie cycle. A trainload of stars (Loren, Lancaster, Gardner) is exposed to pneumonic plague as a result of a terrorist attack on the “International Health Organization” in Geneva.
VIRUS (Kinji Fukasaku, 1980) Insanely morbid late-Cold War apocalypse howl. Germ warfare decimates the human race, then nuclear weapons blow up the planet.
OUTBREAK (Wolfgang Petersen, 1995) Ebola cash-in with Dustin Hoffman as the virologist hero. An entire movie theater is infected while watching What’s Up, Doc?
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