As with computers, the Microbe nightmare scenarios are illustrations of the Frankenstein principal of science gone too far; when godlike scientists try to create new life (in the form of laboratory viruses), they end up committing genocide instead. Sometimes, this biological warfare happens on purpose (12 Monkeys), but usually, it’s an accident. Frequently, the microbes inflict a fate worse than death on the survivors, turning them into vampires or zombies. (Key movies here are the several films based on Robert Matheson’s I Am Legend, including the Will Smith movie of that name (pictured) and the earlier variation with Charlton Heston, The Omega Man.
Also, there are the 28 Days Later movies and the Resident Evil films.) Sure, there’s always at least one uninfected person left on earth, maybe even a handful, but they’re always outnumbered by the ravenous horde. True, these movies sometimes make bio-disaster look like a first-world problem (the lone survivor is always a sophisticated urbanite, not a jungle tribeswoman). Still, viral fears have become more acute since the advent of AIDS and Ebola, as if the pandemic were the revenge of the underdeveloped world against the developed, restoring nature’s balance by leveling the empire of the West.
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