The Top 10 Apocalypse Movies
In light of the devastation to our civilization directly resulting from the collectivist policies of our ruling elite, there’s probably never been a better time to look at one of Hollywood’s best-loved genres – the end-of-the-world movie.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what films qualify for this category – one list of doomsday movies includes dozens of very different films, with plots ranging from the world blowing up to society suddenly changing dramatically into something unfamiliar, dystopian, and creepy. A documentary about the last two-and-a-half years would qualify as the latter.
From the Cold War nuke paranoia of Fail Safe (1964) to the “Oh s***, it’s a comet” catastrophes envisioned by flicks like Deep Impact (1998), they run the gamut. Sometimes society is teetering – think California – and sometimes it has fallen completely into the abyss – think Detroit.
But at their best, these movies show us something about ourselves and about enduring truths, challenging our intellects and asking vital questions about the nature of man. But mostly they're just cool and fun to watch.
And sometimes they are Zardoz (1974). This is an utterly insane 70’s freakshow starring Sean Connery that can best be described as what it must be like to party with Anthony Weiner and Eric Massa in Thailand with an endless supply of bad Woodstock acid and a substantial NEA performance art grant. Gotta respect any movie that offers the straight-faced line, “The gun is good, the penis is evil.”
Now, here is my list of the Top 10. I accept that haters are gonna hate – and nit-pick about the cosmic question of “what IS an apocalypse film? – so, like it or lump it, these are mine in descending order. They aren’t all great – they are all worth a watch on some Sunday afternoon after the Democrats have yakked about their ruinous policy preferences on the Sunday morning shows and gotten you thinking about disasters:
10. Soylent Green (1973): In the late 60s and 70s, Charlton Heston was the Hollywood honey badger, in that he just didn’t care what crazy movies he made, and as a result he was pretty badass. He made several end-of-the-world flicks, including The Omega Man (1971) and another one that promises to appear later on this list. If you were a kid in the 70s, back when the broadcast networks showed movies, you’d be up watching Heston because he was always in something that kicked ass.
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Here, the world hasn’t fully ended but it’s pretty screwed up. The environment is wrecked and people are living packed together like sweaty sardines because of over-population. There's also a small cadre of the super-wealthy living the high life – sort of like Al Gore’s life would be if he still lived like a Persian emperor as he does now but if he wasn’t full of shit about global warming.
Just remember - Soylent Green is people!
9. Escape From New York (1979): Call me Snake. Here, New York City has become a giant prison and Snake Plissken has to go in and rescue the kidnapped President. The President in the film is a snooty, dissembling tool with delusions of competence. You may fill in your own comment here: _____________________.
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Yeah, EFNY is probably technically not an apocalypse film, but you’re technically not paying me for my opinions so you’ll take what’s given to you and like it. This is a cool flick, made on a shoestring yet looking like a million bucks. Check out the edgy electronic score too – director John Carpenter composed it himself. There’s also a lump in the throat moment – the twin towers of the World Trade Center play a key role.
Oh, and yeah – there’s a heapin’ helpin’ of Borgnine!
8. The Last Man on Earth (1964): This is a Vincent Price movie, filmed in Italy for like $25 and change, that is everything the Will Smith, big-budget crap-fest remake I Am Legend (2007) was not – like "good" and "interesting" and "not stupid."
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You can see the inspiration for the zombie films that would follow as Price, a still-human survivor of a terrible plague, battles hordes of shambling vampires. The black-and-white cinematography makes the whole world alien and creepy. It’s pretty disturbing. Check out this hard-to-find cult classic.
7. 28 Days Later (2003) and 28 Weeks Later (2007): A couple of zombie/disease hybrids, these are quite different films. The first is small in scale and personal, the second large scale and much more big-picture. Both involve horrifically violent beasts terrorizing the normal people of England, and as such are difficult to distinguish from the news.
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Both suffer from a weird anti-military bias. The first has the survivors stumbling on a bunch of soldiers who go nuts and lose all discipline in about 30 days. That seems a bit quick. The second has the protagonists, through gross stupidity, ignore the military’s strict and, frankly, smart rules and thereby cause the infection to break out again. When the military moves to, you know, kill the mad, blood-crazed zombies, we’re supposed to feel bad for the protagonists WHO CAUSED IT TO HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE BY BEING IDIOTS. Yeah, like our liberal overlords, the filmmakers blame the competent.
But these flaws are exceeded by haunting imagery of an empty England and by the total lack of sentimentality by the filmmakers. Also, the first film's scenes of the survivors trying to fight off hordes of zombies with rakes and bats is a powerful reminder the importance of the Second Amendment. They'll take my gun when they pry it out of my cold, living dead hand.
6. Logan’s Run (1976): This one is loads of fun. Hot girls, cool guns, a bright color palette for the space-age fashions the characters model – yeah, what more could a real man want? Well, a coherent story and special effects that weren’t developed in a garage would be nice, but no matter – Logan’s Run is a great ride.
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The post-apocalyptic world is kept at bay by giant domes built long before by the long-forgotten ancestors of the pleasure-seeking, hedonistic and crypto-fascist young people. They not only don’t trust anyone over 30, they either get the oldsters to perform what seems to be a fatal anti-gravity interpretive dance or shoot them for defying the government. No one works; everything is provided for them. It’s a city of parasites under absolute control. It sounds like a liberal fantasy; you expect Al Gore to waddle out and berate everyone else for selfishly whining about having to die at one score and ten and then heading off to his 60thbirthday party.
The highlight is when Michael York tells what is apparently Will Ferrell in his earliest role to “Run, runner!” The remake will be released in 2014, which is awesome because remakes are always better than the original...
5. Panic in the Year Zero (1962): This little-known flick focuses on a family on vacation in the country when a nuclear war breaks out. It’s awesome not because of special effects or a big budget but because of its small scale – the family and a few outsiders are the majority of the focus. Things get brutal quickly, and our heroes do too. It’s a nice reminder about why every citizen should take full advantage of the Founder’s wisdom in enacting our Second Amendment. You better be ready to protect yourself or you will be supplying goods and services – all kinds of services, as this surprisingly frank for its day film shows – to the savages. The survivors will be those who aren’t burdened by a distorted liberal view of morality that requires them to crawl defenseless before others.
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Ray Milland is the father – it’s somewhat jarring to see a guy as the hero who looks like a regular adult instead of the kind of manscaped, metrosexual TV man-children we usually see on-screen today. This one actually should be remade (watch it and tell me you couldn’t see Big Hollywood’s own Adam Baldwin as the father), but sadly its tough-minded moral message would fly totally over the heads of today's Hollywood executive doofus contingent.
4. A Boy and His Dog (1975): Sold as “a rather kinky tale of survival,” this hot mess of a movie – it has a pre-Crockett Don Johnson and nary a Tubbs in sight – is, like many of these, truly a '70s artifact.
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It’s just weird, with freaky survivors, a psychic talking terrier, and other strange stuff. The highlight is the last scene where Don keeps his pimp hand strong. I suggest drinking before watching it. And during. And after.
3. Dawn of the Dead (1978) and (2004): Similar and far superior to the 28 films, the original and the remake are definitive zombie and definitive apocalypse movies. Interestingly, both also track the media and its response to the world-wide zombie meltdown – those are some of the most interesting and scariest scenes. You see the world falling apart, and that’s almost as frightening as the monsters themselves.
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Visually, the 2004 remake is as smooth as the 1978 original was ragged. I have aesthetic objections to running zombies, and the jarring editing is annoying, but the remake is very, very creepy and very, very bleak. But the original is an amazing document of the 1970s. People who did not live through that decade think of it as disco music and leisure suits. It was, as we see here, really a time of linoleum, fluorescent lights, and JC Penney stores. There is no sparkle to the Pittsburgh suburbs where this was filmed – and no sparkle to the places where 99.999% of Americans lived in the 70s. No movie feels to me more like those years than DotD.
George Romero was always a terrible filmmaker. He lucked into a classic with Night of the Living Dead and with this one too – just look at the total pieces of crap his subsequent films all were. Here, though, his education movie background is perfect for this story. It’s shot like a film you might see in your science class in junior high in 1977. And it totally works.
As a story, though, it really is genius. Put aside all the nonsense, post-release interpretation by shiftless university assistant professors about how this movie is really a powerful critique of consumerism. What a load of revisionist crap. Romero clearly thought, “It’d be pretty cool for some survivors to hole-up in a mall with M16s and blast some zombies and maybe some bikers too!” And it is.
2. The Planet of the Apes (1968): Forget the silly sequels and the remakes, reboots, and retreads of recent years – the original is where it’s at. Heston is back, and as if being the head of the NRA wasn’t enough to solidify as America’s greatest hero after Washington, Lincoln, and Reagan, then he nails it with this incredibly cheesy, utterly unforgettable classic.
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Featuring one of the Top Ten twist endings of all time, this Rod Serling-penned flick is one of the most entertaining movies ever made. I dare you to start watching and try to stop – you can’t. You’ll just sit there, mouthing the great lines along with the movie. Now get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty liberals!
1. Mad Max (1979) and The Road Warrior (1982):
While the exact pole position of the other films might be subject to some small amount of debate, this one is not. The Road Warrior is not only one of the greatest apocalyptic films ever but one of the best movies ever, period. Let’s start with the amazing – and scarily relevant – opening narration:
Their leaders talked and talked and talked but nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled the cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear.
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Gee, sound like any Western civilizations you know? Totally unrelated – my short-term investment advice is to buy ammo.
Mad Max, the first of the series, takes place at the tail end of the disintegration of society; there are still some remnants of order left, mostly in the form of an incredibly young and incredibly non-psychotic Mel Gibson. It’s hard to watch Mel of three decades ago with the knowledge of his recent decline – you keep expecting him to turn to the camera and blame society’s collapse on "the Jews" and his uppity girlfriend.
Its wild chases and Aussie B-movie vibe made it a drive-in favorite back when, well, there were still drive-ins. But its sequel The Road Warrior took it to a whole new level of action and Campbellian archetypal awesomeness. Certainly, it has one of the great movie openings of all time as the camera backs out of the V8 Interceptor’s roaring supercharger intake.
What makes these movies great (I’m going to ignore the Thunderdome sequel) is not just the world they imagine, or the bizarre characters (freaky Wez, the creepy Humungous, the dentally challenged Gyro Captain), or even the unparalleled action scenes – the chase at the end of Road Warrior is probably the most consistently exciting half-hour in movies. Like all these movies, they are at their best when they reveal and critique our society’s own assumptions – especially stupid liberal ones.
These are intensely conservative films. In Mad Max, Max is a force for order – even when all order collapses and he takes matters into his own hands. In The Road Warrior, Max is totally burned out until he realizes that civilization is worth defending. But not all the survivors feel that way – despite their leader Papagallo’s speech about the need to defend themselves and their future from the barbarian horde, a fair chunk of the band wants to surrender, preferring the lies of the Humungous over the reality of defending themselves. It's always astonishing how some people are so eager to submit to tyrants.
As the Humungous explains to the less cunning Wez, “Fear is our ally.” He relies on cowardice and moral weakness among the defenders of civilization to bring them down – as do our enemies today, with the eager assistance of their fellow travelers. It is no coincidence that The Road Warrior came out during the height of the Soviet-blessed disarmament movement of the early 80s, where gutless, half-witted “peace” activists would have turned us over to history’s greatest murderers if not for the courage of Reagan, Thatcher and the millions of regular Americans and others who believed in peace through strength, not peace through surrender.
The Road Warrior shows us that civilization is worth defending, and that it can only be defended with force, not cowardice-masking bumpersticker pieties about coexisting and violence-never-solving-anything. The sacrifice of Papagallo and (almost) Max – which mirror those of our real-life warriors of the past and present – show that courage and honor are our most powerful weapons. Note that I use the word “our” deliberately – The Road Warrior is about Western Civilization in the face of barbarity, and its lessons are as vital today – and as lost on weak-willed, pacifist losers – as they were nearly 30 years ago.
Post-apocalyptic films show us a great deal about our society by showing us what happens when critical components of it are removed. Sadly, some of these films today look less like science fiction and more like documentaries. But the ones listed here are all worth checking out – even Zardoz, which has the advantage of freaking you out without showing up on drug tests.
And I again repeat my short-term investment advice for dealing when the Humungous and Co. show up – buy ammo. No one in human history has ever complained about having too much ammo when it hit the fan.