Dr. Tara Smith rates the realism of viruses in zombie movies, how they spread and infect characters, and their cures. Would lab technicians be responsible for the catastrophic leak of the T-virus in “Resident Evil” (2002)? Would an individual test a vaccine by infecting themself with a lethal pathogen, as Brad Pitt does in “World War Z” (2013)? And would the authorities shut down a building as quickly as in “Quarantine” (2008)? Smith looks at the development and spread of rabies-like viruses in “The Crazies” (1973) and the rage virus in “28 Days Later” (2002). She looks at the realism of virus side effects when characters search for a cure in “I Am Legend” (2007) and “Z Nation” (2014-2018). She also analyzes the mutated form of mad cow disease seen in “Zombieland” (2009).
Do any viruses exist that behave in the same reanimating way as the wildfire virus in “The Walking Dead” (2010-)? Does climate change have any impact on a virus’ spread, such as in “Cargo” (2017)?
And how do Cordyceps-style fungal infections actually spread, as seen in “The Girl with All the Gifts” (2016)?
Smith is an infectious disease epidemiologist at Kent State University College of Public Health. She has published two papers on zombies and infectious diseases, specialized in plagues and pandemics, and coedited a book on Ebola.