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Vidiot: Swine Flu

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It took a few friends being diagnosed with H1N1--and temporarily quarantined because of it--for me to understand: Swine flu is kind of a big deal. And while I could've sent my friends truckloads of Theraflu and chicken soup, I deemed a Vidiot's Swine Flu Survival Kit a better get-well-soon gift. Technically, it was less a "kit" and more a stack of DVDs about disease, but lucky for me, the sick rarely squabble over minutiae.

Andromeda Strain and Outbreak were obvious inclusions. Both feature epidemic eruption and governmental intervention, but they bring different approaches to a similar theme. While Andromeda director Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music) preferred a cast of relative 1971 unknowns and slow, plodding drama, Outbreak employed a 1995 all-star team to create a pulse-pounding thriller. As such, they actually make great sense as alternatives to costly over-the-counter medications: One gets patients' hearts pumping when they need it during the day; the other should cold-cock them at night.

Similarly, if the infirm ever get to the "why me?" stage where all hope of recovery is lost, films three and four will be extremely handy. In 2002's 28 Days Later, director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) depicts a virus that transforms humans into mindless killers, leaving a group of lonely, uninfected survivors to make search for a zombie-free sanctuary. The second, last year's Doomsday, sees a killer virus wipe out a quarantined Scotland. Then, decades later, when the virus resurfaces, a team of soldiers ventures inside to search for the cure.

Boyle's raging zombies are fun, but they should also stimulate thoughts like: "Boy, I'm glad this swine flu didn't turn me into the undead or wipe out my whole family." Writer/director Neil Marshall's (The Descent) Doomsday actually goes a step further. If the ill aren't immediately grateful for the absence of bloody pustules about their faces, then the Mad Max-ian action sequences and swirl of car chases, gladiator battles, gunfights and neo-punk misdeeds should at least help them forget they're sick for 105 minutes.

You know what's funny? By the time I finished assembling the kit, I was informed via instant messenger that my friends had actually made full recoveries. But as I still haven't verified that in person, and given that I'm now all too aware of what viruses--either real or imagined--can do, I think I'll just e-mail them a link to this column on boiseweekly.com and let them assemble the kit themselves.