Nightmare Visions of the Future
Films and TV series that reflect our fears as defined by a post-AIDS world.
If you have ever felt the need to run from zombies, or wanted to kill some, these games, books and DVDs will make great presents for you and your loved ones. Let's hope you stay alive long enough to enjoy them!
Are zombies the new AIDS?
This lens contains reviews of The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, BBC TV production Survivors and more, including the 1970s vision of the future The Omega Man.
The BBC TV Series Survivors
In this post-apocalyptic vision, terrible plague has fallen across the land. People fall asleep, drift into a coma and never wake up again.
In this BBC series, a handful of people survive, immune to the virus. Somehow they must survive and make a new life in a world where everything we take for granted is gone.
Abby becomes the de-facto leader of the group. Unlike the others, she fell asleep, drifted into a coma - and woke up again. In other words, she is not just immune to the virus, she survived it.
Abby is conducting a relentless search for her teenaged son, who may or may not have inherited her immunity.
Life in a Post-AIDS world
People have always feared technology, and films have long reflected those fears.
But we now live in a world in which all the modern, sophisticated drugs and medical techniques are unable to cure HIV and AIDS. The modern crop of films and TV series may reflect our fears of being sticken by a killer that infects the blood.
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The band of survivors must forage for food, clean water and shelter. They look after a young lad, Najid, who has joined their group. Najid wants to hook up with some relatives, but when they get there, his family are all dead. Everybody's family is dead, and the homes are filled with dead bodies which the band proceeds to burn.
They also have to deal with internal tensions - some people are lazy and don't want to work. The men have to work out who is going to be dominant. And one is hiding a terrible secret.
Can they trust each other? They have to if they are going to survive.
There are suggestions that the government knew what was going to happen, but did not or could not do anything to prevent it, or to protect the population.
The survivors also have to battle violent bands of people who want to take what little they have - their food and, potentially, their lives. At one point, they are made to work in a mine, and have to devise a way to escape.
And all the time, they are searching for a place to live where they will be safe and secure and can live out their days.
I Am Legend
In the next post-apocalyptic vision, a little red sports car speeds through the deserted streets of Manhattan. Herds of deer run free, hunted by the driver through his open car window. Next to him sits his only companion - his German shepherd dog, Sam. They watch as a lion devours a deer.
Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a scientist living in a world in which a deadly virus has torn through the population. Those infected with the virus turn into zombies, attacking and infecting others.
Neville is immune to the virus, and working hard to find a cure. .
It is only safe to go out in the daytime, as the zombies cannot venture into the sunlight. Neville and his sole companion, his dog, Sam, wander the deserted streets of New York, being careful to avoid the shadows.
These are FAST zombies. If they see you, you'd better run! But they can't come out in daylight.
We see the story in flashbacks: a cure for cancer had been created by reprogramming a virus. Out of 10,000 subjects in the experiment, all had been cured.
Three years later, there is only desolation.
If he can find a cure, he may be able to rescue the zombies and find some human companionship once more.
Ironically, given that Smith plays the lead, unlike The Omega Man, in this film, race is not an issue.
Although the zombies do not talk, their eyes shine with awareness - and anger - shine in their eyes. And they can plan. At one point, they string Neville up by his ankle - just as he has done to them when capturing them for his experiments.
I Am Legend is the third remake of Richard Matheson's novel of the same name. See also: The Omega Man.
28 Days Later
Danny Boyle's Landmark Film
In 28 Days Later, Danny Boyle's landmark film, Jim awakens in a London hospital to find he is alone. Really alone.
Still in his hospital gown, he wanders the streets of London, where nobody is alive. The film contains amazing shots of Jim (played by Cillian Murphy) staninding on Westminster Bridge, with the Houses of Parliament in the background, and nobody else there. Not a bus, not a taxi, nobody walking around. No one.
Entering a church, he hears a noise. Someone, somewhere is still alive and breathing. But the beings inside attack him. Someone comes in and rescues him.
The population has been infected by the "Rage" virus, which turns them into zombies. If one of them attacks you, you'll turn within seconds. So it's essential that you kill anyone who's been infected before they can get you.
Symptoms of the "Rage" virus include spewing blood from the mouth and attacking anything in sight. These are FAST zombies - outrun them if you can!
Jim joins two other survivors. They return to his home, but he finds that everyone he ever knew is dead. Yeah, that again.
In order to stay alive, they have to avoid the zombies - the former humans who have turned. They hide in the shadows while searching for a safe place.
They have to be ruthless - if you can't keep up, you get left behind.
28 Weeks Later
More Zombies in the Sequel to 28 Days Later
The sequel to 28 Days Later, we find that the "Rage" virus has been wiped out completely. All of the infected have died of starvation. At least that's what the screen tells us.
Robert Carlyle plays a father who is reunited with his children on the Isle of Dogs in East London, where a refugee camp has been set up. The camp is protected by the U.S. military, who, as we all know, are not known for their sense of humour or their humanity.
Unbeknownst to them, the children's mother is still alive. Like the woman in Survivors, she is immune to the virus. So her blood may contain the key to a vaccine, or even a cure.
However, the virus is still alive in her veins, so any contact with her causes immediate infection. In other words, RUN!
Director Danny Boyle combines action with excruciating tension to keep us terrified.
The Omega Man
Another take on Post-Apocalyptic Visions of the Future
Another post-apocalyptic vision. A little red sports car speeds through deserted streets. Nothing moves other than the litter blowing in the breeze.
Charlton Heston is Robert Neville, the last man left alive after the use of biological weapons during a war caused a global plague.
He must return home before night falls, so he holes himself up in his penthouse apartment.
The other survivors call themselves "The Family". Unlike other films covered on this page, they are not mindless, flesh-eating zombies. The Family are albinos who only come out at night, shunning daylight as well as artificial light. They are happy to use fire, however, and spend all night burning books.
The Family hate anything from the old world: science, learning, culture. So they seek to destroy Neville, a scientist who was working on a cure for the plague. Every night, they attack his fortress in various ways.
Heston swaggers around brandishing his rifle, which may go some way to explaining his involvement in the NRA - you never know when a creature of the night may appear.
The ultimate cool man, when a missile strikes his apartment, he plonks an ice cube into his drink before strolling over to the window to investigate. But the pressure of loneliness is always there, and occasionally he explodes in frustration.
One day, the Neville is walking through a shop in town when he catches sight of a Black woman posing as a mannequin. He is no longer alone!
Eventually, he discovers that she is one of a group of survivors. But all of the others are in danger of succumbing to the plague - being young, they had greater resistance, but they are not immune.
Made in 1970, The Omega Man reflects many topical issues of the time, including race relations and saving the planet. This big, butch white man takes up with a sista with a big 'fro. Although she is street-tough and handy with a rifle, she is also allowed to be beautiful, elegant and vulnerable.
This film includes one of the earliest interracial kisses on screen, the first having been in Star Trek.
I am old enough to remember when there were no Black people in the future.
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