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Top 10: Outbreak Movies

With The Crazies remake bursting down our door, I thought it would be a good opportunity for Dread Central to look back at some of the most memorable virus/outbreak movies of the genre’s past. It’s a slippery slope when determining what constitutes a viral plague versus a standard zombie apocalypse, but I boiled my criteria down to one basic rule: The carnage must be driven by an infection, and re-animated corpses crawling out of the dirt need not apply.

Here goes nothing. And make sure to join me in the discussion below. Part of the reason I enjoy making these lists so much is to hear what other like-minded horror fans think. What did I miss? What shouldn’t have been included (I can hear some of those now)?

10. The Stand (1994)
Sure, it’s a strange world where a Mick Garris film snags a spot on any top ten list, but this adaptation of one of Stephen King’s finest novels does offer some of the subgenre’s most effective and memorable setpieces. From the opening outbreak cued to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” to Larry Underwood’s suspenseful escape through the Lincoln Tunnel, this mid-90s miniseries may have fallen apart after the third hour, but this epic look at the end of the world remains an apocalypse worth enduring.


MORE Top 10 Outbreak Movies on the NEXT page!


Matt Serafini

Author (Under the Blade, Feral), slasher movie enthusiast, N7 Operative. Plays games, watches movies, reads books. Occasionally writes about them.

  • madalek

    HORROR IS KING

    IT MAY NOT BE A HORROR FILM BUT A FEEL THAT THE OUTBREAK WOULD BE I FINE ADDITON TO THE LIST ASWELL IT IS A VIRUS OUTBREAK FILM AFTER ALL BUT DOOMSDAY AT THE TOP IS GREAT AND A HAVE TO SAY THAT MOST OF THE FILMS IVE SEEN AND AGREE THEY ARE THE SHIT

  • FireRam

    Nice list.You pretty much nailed it. I have to agree though with the individual that said “The Signal” would be a good addition. And I also feel 28 weeks was better than 28 days.

  • Terminal

    28 Days Later is a great choice. The movie is fantastic. Probably my favorite apocalypse film behind Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead.

  • Ultimo Franco

    Here’s the trailer for IMPULSE, by the way.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaIWtTj6c_M

    One of my favorites.

  • theGoldenSimatar

    I really loved Doomsday, it was a wonderful love letter to the films of ol’ with a bunch of new twists and turns in it. Though I absolutely HATED the bunny-kaboom sequence.

    I will agree with most folks…why the hell is Zombi 3 on here?

  • thedarkestshadow

    I’ve got to wonder what you anyone is smoking when they put Zombi 3 on any list other than top 10 worst or something similar. That was an awful movie. I didn’t really care for The Crazies. It was ok but nothing spectacular. I’ll have to check out Warning Signs. Doomsday was ok I guess. And 28 Days Later is NOT a zombie movie. Good movie but not at all a Zombie movie.

  • Ultimo Franco

    I would have included the vastly underrated 80s movie IMPULSE, with Meg Tilly. Tainted milk rules! I saw it theatrically when it first opened and still remember every single second of it. Tim Matheson kicked ass back in those days. The bar scene, where Meg first notices that the patrons are acting crazy is a classic. The moment when the guy bends his finger all the way back to show her how much he loves her is great!

  • AngryChairr

    Sorry, Doomsday was just a bad mish-mash (i.e. stealing big plot points) of Mad Max and Escape from New York. I really wanted to like it but ended up amazed as just how bad it really was.

    Warning Sign is definitely an underrated movie. Seeing Waterston outside a courtroom dealing with deranged lunatics is a joy unto itself.

    I probably would’ve put 28 Weeks Later on instead of 28 Days. It’s actually a much better film. The opening where Carlyle’s character shows how most people would really act in such a situation is just amazing. The rest is great, even if some of it does become a bit unbelievable.

    The Signal is definitely a glaring omission from this list. There’s just something so wonderfully warped about that movie. The first third is a great word falls apart story, the middle is an awesome pitch-black comedy, and final third is also pretty good delving into the metaphysical stuff. I honestly would’ve made it #1.

    I also miss the sort of inept brilliance that Zombi 3 displays. Few DTV films today are that gloriously stupid, and if they are, they’re too self-aware to enjoy. The luck of stumbling into a good bad movie is rare these days.

  • The Woman In Black

    Happy to see 12 Monkeys made the cut. I LOVE that flick!

  • Floydian Trip

    Doomsday is awesome! I don’t understand the strong disliking, to put it mildly, the movie gets which is as much of a mystery to me as the love 28 Days Later gets showered upon it even though it’s a complete ripoff.

    • Minion

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one that feels that way about 28 Days Later.

  • nonserviam03

    I never really had any interest in Doomsday, as the trailer gives me too much of a Resident Evil vibe, but maybe I’ll have to check it out.