So, on the Internet, in addition to new strains of Covid being discovered that need attention (and why bat’s are Nature’s Own Winged Plague Pits)(they have a better immune system than we do, so anything that can make them sick will kill us), I’m starting to hear chatter about horror stories of families trapped indoors and forced to spend time with people they chose to make a life with and/or bring into this world. And a fair amount of them are discovering that “Having a family” is just a check-mark on Western Civilization’s List of Things to Do to Idle Away Your Mortality (I mean, “living a productive, healthy, happy life”). As someone who’s sterile, I will admit a certain puckish delight in seeing parents seemingly start to realize that they might have to spend time with someone they expelled from their body. But that’s beside the point; you may now find yourself indoors with people who make traditional indoor sports a little problematic. Which means, of course, turning to the great, pre-Internet substitute for human interaction, film and television! Some friends and myself decided to make a great, multi-hour film/TV playlist to while away the hours indoors. As always, some of these are not family-friendly (to be fair, a lot of parents are discovering that they aren’t, either); with my comments.

  1. Lord of the Rings — “The Doom of Middle Earth.” C’mon, it gets no more melodramatic than that. As I’ve written, when people are in dangerous situations, they tend to race to either the very worst, or very best aspects of their nature. This series celebrates that latter option in a way we probably need right now, also, it’s 10 hours long.

Also, Sam’s speech there is something we all need to see a few times.

2. Zombieland — I’ve previously mentioned this on another film list that was exclusively plague-themed; now that I’ve broadened the theme and interpretation to, “A good way to kill some time whilst watching something end-of-the-world-themed,” it’s back. In Cancer Survival, adaptability and attitude are the X-factors that differentiate long-term survivors, and I have no doubt that’s a large factor in any large-scale disaster. Grab your favorite tarp hat and shotgun (real ‘Mericans have a favorite shotgun, trust me), and enjoy yourself in the post-apocalypse! This film is so delightfully family-unfriendly that even the trailer is R-rated. There’s also a sequel, so this is a three-hour time-killer.

3. Good Omens — I was one of two dozen people who read the book (seriously, it was hard to find this book before Neil Gaiman became a household name). This is about the End Times, as classically portrayed in your favorite Holy Book (it doesn’t matter which one; they’re all depressingly unimaginative — seas of blood, angels weeping, death, etc.). The catch is, Heaven and Hell are just as bureaucratic, corrupt, and incompetent as any human organization, leaving our Fate in the hands of some mid-tier demonic and angelic minions and a band of children. Unlike other entries, this film is mostly family-friendly (although you would have to explain a lot of the jokes; most of which stem from the unfortunate fact that organized religions tend to be absurd when deconstructed)(and if you get upset at the portrayal of God as a woman and Adam and Eve being black, you won’t enjoy the series, and probably aren’t cut out for 21st century living):

4. Road Warrior — This is a trilogy (of sorts); everyone skips the first one (which was made for a quarter million dollars by a beleaguered ER physician trying to comment on Australia’s muscle car culture)(it made $100 million globally), and goes to the second one, which brought Mel Gibson and BDSM couture into American consciousness. And the third one, which featured Tina Turner in a regrettable haircut. My advice on this is see the second film, fast-forward through all the non-Turner parts of the third, and see the fourth film:

Oh, and be sure to check out the only fan convention in the world that makes “Burning Man” look boring and unoriginal:

5. Ash vs Evil Dead — It’s a timeless story; teens borrow family car to go to a cabin in the woods. The aforementioned cabin was previously inhabited by an archaeology professor who was translating a Forbidden Babylonian Book of Curses, and accidentally awakens an ancient, apocalyptic evil. Shenanigans ensue.

This franchise is legendary for being the Indie film series that made it big (well, after Mad Max); it catapulted the Raimis into producing roles, introduced us all to Bruce Campbell’s impeccable fashion sense, and was spun off from a low-budget student film project into three films and a Starz series that made its initial investors (mostly dentists from the Midwest, according to Raimi and Campbell). Based on this and Item #4, in these times of economic uncertainty; I’d advise everyone to find some stressed-out grad/post-grad students with cameras, and give them a thousand bucks. With this series, I’d recommend starting with the second film (which is a remake of the first one), skipping the regrettable 2013 remake, and going straight to the Starz series (which also features Lucy Lawless).

6. The Cornetto Trilogy — This is a loose trilogy comprised of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. Two of them feature the world ending, and they’re all connected by a common theme of “the same writers, directors, producers, and actors.” According to writer/director Edgar Wright, they are somehow ice cream-themed, but it’s a stretch to go from “strawberry ice cream” to “zombie invasion.”

7. Z Nation — This is SyFy’s (I like Bill Corbett’s pronunciation as “see-fee,” but I digress) attempt to replicate The Walking Dead. I’m only a few episodes in, but this seems a superior version of The Walking Dead, in that TWD seems to be a long, grueling slog toward the either the death of all the characters and/or the production team’s inevitable boredom and implosion (sort of like Game of Thrones). The Walking Dead is — and forgive me if I’m generalizing here — the story of a plucky band of survivors in a zombie apocalypse, trying to find a cure, secure housing, food, weapons, etc. all while running from zombies and the spread of disease and death and their own diminishing numbers. Which is pretty much what America has been doing since 2016. Z Nation starts three years after a zombie apocalypse and centers on a group of survivors trying to get a patient who received an experimental (and effective) vaccine against the zombie plague to a research facility across the country. So, unlike TWD, there’s a definitive plot end-point. Which makes it a lot more like Y: The Last Man than Dawn of the Dead. Yes, ich bin nerd. It’s also already been canceled, so you can binge it at your leisure (there’s also 50-odd episodes, so that’s over 40 hours of apocalypse-based entertainment):

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

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