Five Movies to Help Us Embrace the Ebola Frenzy

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Every few years a new epidemic sweeps the nation, spreading hysteria among the masses -- bird flu, swine flu, mad cow disease and this year's contender Ebola. The more you hear about it, the more you're scared. It makes germaphobes looks like geniuses and makes you reconsider ever getting on an airplane or touching anything.

And biological warfare is even more terrifying because there is no fighting it. One minute doctors are experimenting with a new virus, and next thing you know there's a zombie apocalypse. Scared? You should be. But instead of running away, embrace the fear, strap on your breathing mask, and stay inside to watch our top five outbreak movies.

See also: Five Movies to Watch on Veterans Day -- a Salute to Real Heroes

5. 12 Monkeys (1995) Scientists in the future, come up with the logical idea to send a criminal back in time to reverse the outbreak of global virus that sent society underground. Not surprisingly, things get a little messy. 12 Monkeys features stellar performances by Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt; it's especially fun to see them as mental patients in a psyche ward. The film is a bit of a mind screw and can be hard to follow, as most time travel movies are, but since it's set in 2035, keep your fingers crossed that time travel is only 20 years away. Syfy plans to re-imagine the movie for a TV series starting January 2015.

4. 28 Days Later (2002)

An animal liberation group breaks into a medical lab to release chimpanzees, which have been infected with a rage-causing virus. One chimp attacks an activist and 28 days later society has collapsed. Our hero Jim is in a coma and wakes to find he's alone in London only to eventually run into blood-thirsty savages, otherwise known as zombies. Danny Boyle adds a new chapter to zombie history with his imagining of a viral pandemic gone very wrong. If you're not a fan of the movie's conclusion, find the DVD and indulge in three other options including the "radical alternative ending."

Keep reading for three more epidemic movies.

3. The Seventh Seal (1957)

Taking it old school,

The Seventh Seal

features one of the original outbreaks: the Black Death. Ingmar Bergman directs this film set in plague-riddled Sweden about a medieval knight's encounter with death, literally and figuratively.

The Seventh Seal

is one of the most critically-acclaimed foreign films of all time. It's a little artsy, a bit fantastical and very Swedish. It brings to life the idea of playing a game with death -- this time, it's chess.

2. The Andromeda Strain (1971)

If Earth-bound diseases weren't worrisome enough,

The Andromeda Strain

adds diseases from outer space to the list. After a satellite returns to Earth, a whole town has mysteriously died with their blood turning to dust. The only survivors are an old man and a baby. A government team is assembled to find out why. Based off

Jurassic Park

writer Michael Crichton's book, the movie is packed with the tension and action of biological warfare.

1. Contagion (2011)

With an orgy of famous names,


gives us the various vantage points of an outbreak. A mysterious disease spreads rapidly, killing several in its wake. While some try to escape, government officials try to pump the brakes and find a cure. While watching the film, if you start worrying about how many times you touch your face -- three to five times every waking minute according to Kate Winslet -- get momentarily distracted by Gwyneth Paltrow without makeup. Walk away with valuable advice for an outbreak situation, and really for life, "Don't talk to anyone. Don't touch anyone. Stay away from other people."

Follow Amanda Moutinho on Twitter at @amandamoutinho.

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