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Germs on the Big Screen: 11 Infectious Movies

Nosferatu (1922)

disease, fear, infection, infect, contamination, quarantine, spread, pandemic, epidemic, outbreak

A vampire hides his deadly activities with the help the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, in the 1922 film 'Nosferatu.' (Image credit: Reel Media International)

Infection themes run rampant in modern-day vampire movies such as "Blade" and "Underworld," but one classic silent film paired a vampire legend with the real plague known as the Black Death. The sinister Count Orlok of "Nosferatu" cloaks his vampire feeding through the spread of bubonic plague, a bacterial-caused disease which ravaged Europe and Asia repeatedly throughout history. Famous movie scenes include the plague arriving on Orlok's coffin-laden boat, with rats running ashore and spreading their deadly cargo of microbes. This has eerie historical parallels — gravediggers in 16th century Venice actually made a similar connection between supposed vampires and the Black Death, without having modern medicine's knowledge of the plague.