The Best Pandemic Films & TV Of All-Time

1. The Seventh Seal (1957), 2. Contagion (2011), 3. 28 Days Later (2002), 4. V For Vendetta (2006), 5. Train To Busan (2016), 6. The Shining (1980),.7.12Monkeys(’95) 8. TWD (2010), 9. The Andromeda Strain (1973), 10. The Crazies (2010)

‘This is not just an epidemic anymore. We’re looking at a pandemic.’ COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, with over 7.5 Million confirmed cases & 419,000+ deaths across 203 nations by its viral antagonist SARS-CoV-2 (likely more with no consortium of worldwide reporting, asymptomatic carriers, and countries looking to save face through safety-appearance.) Chaos like this we only see every couple of decades if we’re lucky was overdue and has turned metropolitan cities to ghost towns, enforced social-distancing/masked norms, and thrown the majority of citizens into mass-quarantine for months – apart from the life-saving sacrifices of the Medicine community, public health, vaccinologists, and essential workers. CLC has officialized our 19 Best Pandemic Films & TV Series to binge-watch in quarantine:

*Click On Titles For Full Reviews*

1. The Seventh Seal (1957)

A striking medieval allegory of mankind’s search for purpose and benchmark of 1950’s arthouse cinema through the lens of The Black Plague, The Crusades, & a game-of-chess with Death on a rocky cliff-fringed beach, Ingmar Bergman’s Swedish classic echoes his filmography’s existential drive/curiosity to explore the most complex and universal themes mankind ponders. A brilliant sociologically-analytic premise based in both the small scale of a board game and large one of the deadliest plague ever killing 200,000,000+ people in the 1300’s, beautiful cinematography wherein shots are infused with metaphor and poetry, and magnificent thespian pedigree led by a career-definitive performance by Max von Sydow make The Seventh Seal the most groundbreaking pandemic film & one of the most powerful films on religion ever made. 9.3/10.

2. Contagion (2011)

Reflexively-compelling in explicative pandemic-design & public health/epidemiology cognizance doubling as a modernized parable of natural-crisis and the evils of mankind, Contagion is the one of the best – certainly the most realistic & prophetic with inexorable similarities to COVID-19: from oubreak-location in Wuhan, China to bat-transmission amidst whispers of science-antitrust and corrupt government officials – pandemic films to-date. The film boasts a heavyweight Cotillard-led cast, weighty medical & societal themes brought to cinema with profound scientific accuracy, multi-narrative structure characteristic of Sonderbergh’s directorial resumé, and *pure* biological terror/chaos. Adjusted ~9.2/10.

3. 28 Days Later (2002)

‘What if there was a zombie movie that was actually.. good, intellectual cinema?’ Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle set out to answer that herculean call in the early-2000’s with jolting viscerality, bludgeoning ~realism, and slicing political allegory; a post-apocalyptica tour-de-force that’s as ghastly in 28-day societal-collapse and complex in social-commentary as it is unforgettable in the complete devolution of social order – with a haunting empty-London streets backdrop & zombies that don’t walk.. they RUN after you. Adjusted ~9.1/10.

4. V For Vendetta (2006)

Both about biological viruses utilized for political leverage/subjugation by a neo-fascist totalitarian government in a future dystopian vision of England & the computerized type by legendary hacktivism that’s since become the face of real-world cyber legions like Anonymous, DC Comics & Vertigo’s V For Vendetta is a symphony of screenwriting, allegory, corruption, and cinematic intellectualism – One of the most politically-provocative & powerful dystopian films of the 21st century; voraciously-volatile with visceral action sequences, volitional philosophical discourse, virtuosic performances/characterization, and virile Marxist chaos in the U.K. 9.1/10.

5. Train To Busan (2015)

A South-Korean firecracker of zombie brilliance loaded with palpable social commentary on traditional Asian themes of hyper-cleanliness and order twisted into a heavy metal ballad of velocity and carnage, Train To Busan is a high-octane ride of pathos, prolific characterization / screenwriting, impossible cinematography stunts staging its pulse-rattling action sequences in a finite cabin space, some of the scariest zombies the genre’s ever seen, and breathtaking performances. Perhaps the best and most-complete zombie film EVER – a statement on the pure talent of the international film community taking America’s most sacred pop culture phenomenon and ~outdoing us.. on the their first attempt in the genre. Adjusted ~9/10.

6. The Shining (1980)

Although not technically about viruses/pandemics (only reason it’s not atop this list; one of the greatest overall films & the greatest horror film ever made), The Shining is the ultimate exposition of cabin fever – a phenomenon EVERYONE locked in isolation or quarantine, biological-and-otherwise, has felt the maddening effects of firsthand. A masterpiece of slowly-hypnotic winter tragically underappreciated in its time, Kubrick’s work-of-art is *unparalleled* psychological horror with the greatest score, atmospherics, & lead performance in genre-history – + perhaps THE great Da Vincian-plot puzzle of cinema as labyrinthian as its snow-maze, together w/ 2001 x ACO why Kubrick is the Greatest Director of All-Time. Adjusted ~9/10.

7. 12 Monkeys (1995)

A dystopian sci-fi/thriller piece on a race against time to prevent mankind’s eradication by simiiforme virus that capitalizes on late-1900’s fascination with time-travel and the mysteries of psychology & reality-constructs, 12 Monkeys boasts one of the great Da Vincian plot puzzles requisite of multiple viewings to piece together its multi-interpretive complexity, prophetic futurism in set-design, capricious commentary on weighty themes from consumerism to scientific ethics to animal rights to mental illness to fate, & mythic A-list performances led by an early-Brad Pitt in one of his virtuosic Academy Award-nominated performances. 8.9/10.

8. The Walking Dead (2010)

One of the biggest & boldest modern TV series, TWD revolutionized and redefined the zombie subgenre while skyrocketing it to new heights – with just as much humanity & sociology exposition as blood-splattered carnage, emotional resonance, iconic characters/performances led by a role-of-a-lifetime by Andrew Lincoln, & palpable post-apocalyptic storytelling that changed the cinematic industry by proof-of-concepting/trend-setting a new filming capital: Atlanta, GA. For the biggest zombie franchise by far, its actual zombies aren’t as nightmarish as many others – and it does self-indulge for way too many seasons its premise can’t support. Nonetheless, one of most complete, immersive, best production-value horror TV series. 8.8/10.

9. The Andromeda Strain (1971)

A classified, scientific expedition into the most bizarre endemic ever-scripted – boasting some of the most breathtaking set design, biological exegesis, human sin, & curiosity-provocation in science-fiction, The Andromeda Strain is one of the most compelling, mysterious, addictive, and experimentally-innovative entries in the pandemic genre. Despite a poorly-scripted/baseless-ending that threatens the film’s structural-integrity worse than its own virus, T.A.S. checklists the major points all science-fiction strives for w. galaxy entertainment-value. Adjusted ~8.7/10.

10. The Crazies (2010)

An ‘America gone wrong’-nightmare with twisted, brilliant subversion of everything we’ve come to normalize as nostalgia & small-town USA – from ’50’s guitars to farmlands to baseball-pitch to gas-stations/diners reinvented in the most ghastly of kills, The Crazies is pure, imaginative horror of the highest authenticity in years. Beyond its perfect setting, omenic atmospherics, and bleak cinematography, the story of its virus and horrors of governmental experimentation fuel this phantasm of everything Christianity teaches, foremost in ‘love thy neighbor’ – packed with social-commentary on weighty themes like military, war, bioterrorism, & humanity, brought to life by fantastic Olymphant-led performances + rare characterization in 2000’s-horror. 8.7/10.

11. [REC] / Quarantine (2007)

A *wild* found-footage outbreak filmed from patient-zero in real time, [REC] & Quarantine (being the same film in Spanish/American motifs, the U.S. Quarantine being superior in ~every aspect from cast to production value to setting to pace/excitement while ditching [REC]’s problematic racist/xenophobic rhetoric and tonally-incongruent comedy) have delivered one of the most pulse-rattling, creative, crescendoing visceral jolts of limewire electricity the modern pandemic genre and biological sci-fi/horror has witnessed. Found-footage’s new Queen. 8.5/10.

12. Castaway (2000)

Though not about pandemics at all and thus necessarily-lower on an outbreak-list, Castaway is a masterpiece parable on the power of nature, futility of plans, & mankind’s need for social interaction that is extremely-applicable to anyone in quarantine/isolation. Juxtaposing time and routine: living and dying by the clock in a scramble of rat-race with its antithesis: a place where there is nothing but time and each day is a quest for survival, the film ambitiously case-studies the mystery of life & tragedy. The breathtaking, lush, idyllic Fijian island background ~contradicts its premise’s horror of being shipwrecked and its mainland finale is maddeningly-unsatisfying, but the sheer breadth of its psychological analyses & transcendental power of Tom Hanks’ Academy-nom’d performance buoy it to cinematic heights tall as its Pacific waves. 8/10.

13. Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

A pastiche of the zombie genre gloriously independent of franchise, SOTD proves a gifted screenwriting comedy team can find plenty of laughs in the apocalypse – shrewdly-spoofing the undead concept by drawing hilarious parallels between the horrors of 9-5 desk-jobs/routine & subject with a rootable team of (Pegg-led) British losers, expressive typography & satirical elegance by Wright, rom-com and genre-homages, and kinetic whip-panned camerawork. 8/10.

14. Wayward Pines (2015)

Though utilizing mutation and evolution to bring about its monsters instead of a virus, 2015’s Wayward Pines is the puritanical horror of mass-quarantine and authoritarianism.. on ACID. One of the most paranoiac examples of govt. surveillance on modern TV, wherein any deviation from the norm or recalcitrance is picked up by omnipresent surveillance and *severely* punished, M. Night Shyamalan’s mysterious-and-imaginative distortion of Small Town America is a psychologically avant-garde, sociologically-heavy, bleakly-cinematized, jackhammer-performanced, and – of course – plot-twisty dystopian nightmare for the ages. Adjusted ~8.7/10.

15. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

From its intimate-scale, offbeat experimental opening in the grassy hillsides of English cottages to pulse-rattling sniper-bulleted nightset action in downtown-London, 28WL weaves a hyper-addictive human tale of betrayal, regret, and zombies – cleverly breaking new ground in pilot project of what it looks like to rebuild a society AFTER apocalyptica with shockingly-inspired character performances by Hollywood veterans led by Jeremy Renner’s cool-hand masculine Doyle. Against all odds, a great sequel to Boyle’s original that doubles-down on the humanity and energy and might’ve even surpassed it if not for a generic, trigger-happy final act. 8/10.

16. I Am Legend (2007)

A post-apocalyptic thriller, viral outbreak parable, last-man-on-Earth adventure, and delicate humanity/man’s best friend-analysis, IAL is one of the most diverse end-of-the-world films – packed to the brim with heart, emotion, action, and curiosity about the condition of mankind. The elegant film underneath is betrayed by poor CGI amongst the worst the pandemic genre has ever seen and a vexatious ending that near-ruins the project, but it’s saved by a (legendary) Will Smith performance enunciative of one of the last true movie stars of this era. Adjusted ~7.6/10.

17. Fear The Walking Dead (2015)

Leaner, meaner, & dramatically more electrifying than its predecessor from its opening church-set horror scene, Fear-TWD delves right into its predecessor’s only major exclusion by painting the zombie apocalypse as it unfolds in the suburbs of L.A. Entertainment-value is thus boosted by a 10x factor, along with a massive CGI budget-fix of the subpar walker appearance of TWD and visceral, pulse-rattling riot/action scenes amongst the best on TV today. The problem is.. the characterization, screenwriting, performances, and, most of all: casting – weak and uninspired efforts in all outside its young Johnny Depp-ish Frank Dillan-lead and water-down of the original’s intellectual-ambition. Despite these flaws keeping it below TWD, Fear is one of the rare spinoffs that adds a completely new flavor & even often challenges its original. 7.6/10.

18. Cabin Fever (2002)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a-group-of-college-kids-go-to-a-cabin-in-the-woods. Eli Roth manages to subvert the ultimate horror-cliché by making a virus the slasher – paving way for ghastly biological horror brought to life by amazing VFX, fine characterization often reversing genre tropes like final girls and preconceptions of survivors in horror movies, and youthfulness/energy radiating from every frame. The final act is a damn shame in its ludicrous anticlimax, but the cleverly-named Cabin Fever effectively necessitates hand sanitizer. 7.1/10.

19. Containment (2016)

Despite a subpar canvas of resources and actors/actresses to bring the premise to life outside of star Chris Wood, George Young, & Elyse Levesque’s nightmarish patient-zero, CW’s viral-outbreak TV series ‘Containment’ boasts nice expositional characterization, weighty race-heavy themes that challenge our conventional biases, & some of the small-screen’s ghastliest bioterror – juxtaposed with an aptly-CDC based ATL backdrop and thrilling development of the pandemic. A passable TV-contagion and fine addition to their collection. Adjusted ~7.1/10.