As Seen In: 28 Days Later (2002)
The Disease: A fearsome virus unwittingly unleashed on the human race by a group of animal-rights activists, Rage turns its carriers into rabidly violent nut-jobs with a turn of pace to rival your average sprinter. It’s incredibly infectious, and only requires exposure to the tiniest amount of contaminated bodily fluid to cause contraction. And since the carriers are singularly prone to barking their guts up every five minutes, it doesn’t take long to get about.
As Seen In: The Resident Evil saga (2002 – ongoing)
The Disease: The main product of the nefarious Umbrella Corporation who, in their wisdom, have seen fit to start tinkering around in the zombie production business. As for the effects, super strength, a penchant for brains and a total disregard for personal hygiene are among the more serious symptoms.
The Winner: T-Virus
Whilst Rage might be marginally the flashier of the two maladies, what with the super-speedy running and all, the T-Virus is capable of infecting the environment as well as the human race, which gives it the edge in the world-domination stakes. That said, Rage does deserve credit for creating an even more psychotic incarnation of Robert Carlyle than Begbie. No mean feat.
As Seen In: I Am Legend (2007)
The Disease: Once upon a time, the Krippen Virus was thought to be a cure for cancer. Having sweated buckets over its development for many a long year, imagine the scientists’ dismay when their precious “medicine” turned the world’s population into a race of night-dwelling gorehounds. Oh eggheads, when will you learn to leave well alone?
As Seen In: Daybreakers (2009)
The Disease: A particularly virulent strain of plague which transforms its sufferers into, well, vampires. Indeed, so powerful was the pandemic, that by 2019, nearly every human being has developed a distinct taste for blood. You might have thought vampires were en vogue now, but give it eight years and you won’t be able to move for the buggers…
The Winner: Krippen Virus
These two toothsome conditions are remarkably similar, with both converting the majority of the human population into night-crawlers within a matter of years. However, the Krippen Virus has to come out on top, if only for the sheer stupidity of how Vampire Flu is cured. Apparently, all you need is a second vampire bite and you’re sorted. Eh? We know vamps don’t really exist, but even for a horror flick, that’s dumb.
As Seen In: Cabin Fever (2002)
The Disease: One of the grislier conditions on the list, The Fever will strip the flesh clean off your bones, leaving your internal organs all cold and exposed. In laymans terms, it’s basically a jumped-up skin condition, although one that rather knocks eczema into a cocked hat. Proof, if proof were needed, that letting a sickly homeless man near your water supply is a recipe for disaster.
As Seen In: Outbreak (1995)
The Disease: A nasty African lurgy that makes its way from Zaire to the good old US of A thanks to a pesky chimp. Once it’s made itself at home, Motaba lays its victims low with a haemorrhage-tastic fever that nobody tends to get up from. One minute you feel like you’ve got a slightly tickly throat, and next thing you know, you’re coughing up a lung. Curse that damned dirty ape!
The Winner: Motaba
This one is a close call, with The Fever comfortably trumping its opposite number in the gore stakes. However, whilst Motaba manages to bring the United States to its knees, the Fever is contained to offing a few nubile teens in the middle of nowhere. Any wack-job with a claw hammer can claim to have done that.
As Seen In: Carnosaur (1993)
The Disease: Not satisfied with piping prehistoric DNA into chickens (trust us, it gets old after a while), mad Dr. Tiptree manages to outdo herself by creating a virus that causes pregnant women to give birth to baby dinosaurs. How do said dinosaurs make their bow into the world? By munching through their “mother’s” stomach of course! Ah, the miracle of life…
As Seen In: Mimic (1997)
The Disease: A grubbily lethal condition spread by our old friend the cockroach, Strickler’s disease is particularly dangerous to children, wiping out swathes of kiddies at the beginning of Guillermo Del Toro’s grisly horror. Fortunately, there’s a solution at hand: a new race of super-cockroaches, bred specifically to take out the old mob. What could possibly go wrong?
The Winner: Carnosaur Virus
Don’t get us wrong, we’re no fan of giant cockroaches, but the Carnosaur virus has women giving birth to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs who then set about eating people. Strickler’s disease might kill children, but it doesn’t eat them. An angry dinosaur on the other hand wouldn’t think twice about gobbling up an entire crèche. This one is a no contest.
As Seen In: Batman & Robin (1997)
The Disease: A terminal illness suffered by Nora Fries, wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s jibbering gag-merchant, Victor. The symptoms and causes of McGregor’s Syndrome remain decidedly vague, but if Mr. Freeze is anything to go by, the victim’s nearest and dearest will often tend to seek solace in a series of hideous puns. Sorry, but they just leave us cold…
The White Sickness
As Seen In: Blindness (2008)
The Disease: An epidemic of “white blindness” which renders the sufferer totally and instantaneously blind. Sufferers are left to rely upon the goodness of their fellow man, which naturally results in a wave of rape, violence and robbery. Humanity does itself proud once again.
The Winner: The White Sickness
McGregor's Syndrome, whilst terminal, isn’t half as shocking as being rendered totally blind without a moment’s warning. We can only imagine how Arnold would have reacted had his missus come down with The White Sickness. “I am blind to your pleas for mercy” perhaps? “My my Batman, you are a sight for sore eyes!” A missed opportunity there…
As Seen In: The Andromeda Strain (1971)
The Disease: Plucked from the imagination of sci-fi dreamer Michael Crichton, this alien infection proves once again that there’s nothing extra-terrestrial microbes like better than setting up shop in a nice, warm human. Symptoms include the patient’s blood turning to powder and insanity. The latter usually follows hot on the heels of the former, as you’d probably expect…
As Seen In: Splinter (2008)
The Disease: A nasty little parasite that jumps from human host to human host, leaving a trail of broken bodies in its wake. We say “broken”, but that’s probably a bit of a euphemism, as the “splinter” sufferers end up with a load of dirty great spikes bursting out of their skins! It’s going to take more than moisturiser to clear that lot up…
The Winner: Splinter Sickness
They’re both distinctly stomach-turning, in the sense that nobody wants an uninvited guest making themselves at home amongst their vital organs, but the Splinter Sickness is just that much more gruesome. Whilst having your blood turned to powder is undoubtedly regrettable, you’d choose it in a heartbeat over having a set of spikes erupt through your skin! Ouch.
As Seen In: Rabid (1977)
The Disease: An unquenchable thirst for human blood, brought about in the initial carrier after a bout of experimental plastic surgery. Once established, it isn’t long before the virus has spread citywide, as sufferers set about chowing down on their friends and neighbours. Oh, and then there’s the second-mouth-in-your-armpit side-effect. An argument against getting your lips done, if ever there was one.
As Seen In: Shivers (1975)
The Disease: Cooked up by, you guessed it, a mad scientist, this disease takes the form of a strain of parasites that are one part aphrodisiac and one part venereal disease. Spread by sexual contact and producing an uncontrollable sense of arousal in the host, it’s like a nicer version of Chlamydia.
Splatter-Factor: 9 (but not the usual kind of splatter…)
The Winner: Rabid Lust
It might not be as violent, or indeed as lethal as cannibal bloodlust, but there’s no denying that existing in a constant state of arousal would be bloody exhausting. It would also be more embarrassing on the tube. You could probably get away with a bit of gore around your mouth, but walking around at half-mast all day? Well, it would just be a bit unseemly, wouldn’t it?
The Reaper Virus
As Seen In: Doomsday (2008)
The Disease: A terrible plague that kills of swathes of the Scottish population. No, we’re not talking about their diet, but rather the hyper-infectious Reaper Virus that turns Scotland into a bleak and barren hinterland. Insert your own joke here. When even the survivors become a bunch of cannibalistic loons, you know you’re dealing with a pretty heavy-duty disease.
As Seen In: The Happening (2008)
The Disease: A neurotoxin released by plants, exposure to which causes an immediate desire to kill oneself… as premises go, it’s one of M. Night Shyamalan’s more out-there concepts. Still, ludicrous implausibility aside, it’s a pretty scary disease. Word of warning: actually watching the film can produce a similar effect in the viewer…
The Winner: Suicide Sickness
The Reaper Virus is certainly not to be trifled with, and managing to lay low an entire country definitely deserves a round of applause. However, the Suicide Sickness is controlled by plants, and plants are everywhere. And the toxin is in the bloody air for heaven’s sake. What are you going to do, try and outrun the wind? Oh, that’s exactly what people try and do? Carry on then.
As Seen In: Pandorum (2009)
The Disease: A psychological condition brought on by extended stints of hypersleep during deep-space travel, Pandorum basically causes the sufferer to completely lose their shit. Paranoia, hallucinations, nosebleeds… basically all the stuff you could do without when you’re marooned in space. Noone can hear you scream, don’t you know?
Murderous Shut-In Syndrome
As Seen In: REC (2007)
The Disease: Yet another virus that provokes sudden violence in the patient, which in turn causes the spread of the disease from aggressor to victim. The only apparent treatment available is containment, which is all well and good, unless you find yourself locked in an apartment block full of the infected. Bugger.
The Winner: Pandorum
Pandorum sounds like a particularly nasty hangover. You’re not sure how long you’ve been asleep for, you suffer terrible, nagging doubts as to whether something has gone terribly wrong, and you feel fairly convinced that things can only get worse. The virus in REC, however, turns you into a gibbering loon with a taste for unspeakable violence. That’s more like being drunk. We know which one we prefer.
As Seen In: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
The Disease: A fiendish concoction devised by the dastardly Ernst Blofeld, one drop of the Omega Virus can render the victim completely infertile. Often dispensed by a grinning Telly Savalas, just to add insult to injury. Not to worry though, as James Bond is on the case. Fittingly enough, humanity’s hopes of reproducing lie with a serial shagger…
As Seen In: Contagion (2011)
The Disease: A highly contagious (well, duh) disease, similar to bird flu, that spreads like wildfire through such innocuous actions as drinking from a contaminated water glass. To make things worse, humanity appears to be totally unprepared for the outbreak, meaning that society ends up arse over tit in a matter of weeks. Best stock up on those tins of soup… plague’s a-coming!
The Winner: MEV-1
Impotence is obviously a bit upsetting. You want to make your mark on the world, pass on your DNA and enjoy all that good stuff with the new baby smell and the endless pooing and what have you. To miss out on all that would undoubtedly be a shame. However, MEV-1 will kill you. Kill you dead. You and pretty much everyone else you know, meaning there will be noone left to have kids with anyway. Sorry Blofeld, but MEV-1 has got you beat…