I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, so when a character in a movie or TV show just gets a cold or a touch of the flu, that freaks me out a little bit. But I watch horror movies almost exclusively, so you can imagine my despair when there’s a medical element to any film I’m watching. Horror characters never get just a cold. They have the supremely bad luck of stumbling into superviruses that can stop you dead in your tracks or mutate you into shambling wreck. So get out the hand sanitizer, because I’m warning you: Here are five horror movie diseases you definitely don’t want to catch.
Eli Roth’s debut film CABIN FEVER unleashes a flesh-eating bacteria on an unfortunate group of young, sexy campers. Who can forget the scene where an afflicted girl shaves her legs, removing strips of rotten flesh with every pass? It’s a stomach-churning movie, but the worst part is that disease doesn’t kill you outright. You have to sit and watch (or in one character’s case, be locked in a shed) as your body falls apart with you inside it. It’s a truly horrifying fate that has kept me away from my local campground for years.
THE STAND’s charmingly named disease Captain Trips is basically the viral version of the Rapture, wiping out a huge portion of the population in a single blow. A weaponized strain of influenza, it knocked out over 99 percent of humanity, so it turns out your flu shot isn’t always helpful.
We’re going a bit off the reservation for this disease, the titular affliction in the 2004 Japanese film INFECTION. The staff of a hospital is suddenly besieged by a pandemic of a mysterious black rash that liquefies people into disgusting geysers of green goo. This ain’t just a case of the sniffles, this is a full-body meltdown of epic proportions.
A lot of pithy synopses of IT FOLLOWS mention that the titular monster is essentially a spooky STD. There’s a lot more to the subtext of the film that that, but they’re still right. If you have sex with someone bearing the curse, the shape-shifting monster known as It will tirelessly follow you everywhere you go until you’re dead as dead can be. Sure, it doesn’t burn when you pee, but this is pretty explicitly a sexually transmitted infection. In health class we were taught to always bring protection, but when It is around, the best defense is a full suit of armor.
The Rage Virus
The pathogen that infects 28 DAYS LATER and 28 WEEKS LATER is so much worse than your run-of-the-mill zombie plague. Infection almost instantaneously converts you into a mindless, rabid maniac hellbent on biting every living being in sight. A single drop of blood can completely erase you, and we humans are nothing if not chock-full of soft tissues just begging for viral interference. There’s next to a zero percent chance of surviving an outbreak, so it’s probably best if you just make it a rule to stay away from monkey cages for your entire life.