One kid's mission to watch every post-apocalyptic movie ever made.
February 19, 2002 7:48 AM   Subscribe

One kid's mission to watch every post-apocalyptic movie ever made. Conveniently, he sorts them by cause of the apocalypse: cyborgs; plague; zombies; nukes; and 'misc'. (The sixth link on the page - 'working' - turns out not to be one of the causes of the apocalypse, at least in Hollywood.) How would you like the world to end?
posted by rory (37 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Reviews aside, I particularly liked this plaintive comment: "You have to realize how badly damaged my brain is here. This is really a monumental effort for one burnt-out kid. I would try and do it faster, but it seems like if I watch more than 3 of these a week I am racked with wicked nightmares."
posted by rory at 7:49 AM on February 19, 2002

Tell the kid to relax.
I beat him to it.
End result? I need electroshock just to get to my corn flakes in the morning.

Nice to see a review of Damnation Alley, though.
The whole killer cockroach thing, at the time, for a network TV movie, was too cool for words.
posted by dong_resin at 7:59 AM on February 19, 2002

nice list, thanks! here's mine :)
  • the day after (one of the best if just for the shot of twin mushroom clouds in the same frame, a cinematic first!)
  • testament (w/ kevin costner)
  • on the beach
  • atomic cafe
  • a boy and his dog (w/ don johnson)
  • the rapture (literal interpretation of the apocalypse, w/ david duchovny)
  • akira (tetsuo!)
  • grave of the fireflies
  • delicatessen (part of film society's cannibalism week :)
  • la jetee
  • fail safe and dr. strangelove
  • day one (w/ brian dennehy :)
  • music of the spheres
  • threads
  • ladybug, ladybug
these books are also good:
  • swan song, robert r. mccammon (featuring a pro-wrestler and magic mutant scabs that cover your head!)
  • the stand, stephen king (never actually read it, but the tv movie series was alright :)
  • the postman, david brin
  • earth, david brin
  • everville, clive barker
  • the harvest, robert charles wilson
  • z is for zachariah, robert c. o'brien (newberry honor book i think)
  • galapagos, kurt vonnegut :)
  • assemblers of infinity, kevin j. anderson and doug beason (nanotech thriller!)
also the day after plot keywords provide a nice topical compilation for pocalyptic/post-apocalyptic/nuclear holocaust movies.
posted by kliuless at 8:20 AM on February 19, 2002

How would you like the world to end?

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

-- Robert Frost, 1920
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:22 AM on February 19, 2002 [1 favorite]

kliuless, I'd add a great world-ending book to that list, and that is, appropriately enough, This is the Way the World Ends by James Morrow. If people haven't read this, they should...creepy, funny and depressing. Actually, that could describe most of Morrow's works.
posted by 40 Watt at 8:31 AM on February 19, 2002

Kliuless, I'm with you on Swan Song. A great book (or at least I thought so when it came out). Waaaay better than The Stand which it ripped off totally.
posted by dong_resin at 8:31 AM on February 19, 2002

kliuless: you got Akira and Grave of the Fireflies, but missed End of Evangelion! Admittedly, the movies haven't been released in the US yet, but the rights have been acquired by Manga Entertainment. I can't imagine better End of the World theme music than Komm, Susser Tod, or a more winsome destroying angel than [spoiler].

As for novels, how about A Canticle for Leibowitz?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:40 AM on February 19, 2002

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

T.S. Eliot, from The Hollow Men

The PoApo genre of fils has spawned some teriffically bad ones, too. How 'bout:

Day of the Triffids

Omega Man

12 Monkeys

Tank Girl

I would also refer to Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless as a particularly depressing yet comic PoApo book.
posted by evanizer at 8:44 AM on February 19, 2002

Am I the only person who actually liked Tank Girl?
posted by starvingartist at 8:47 AM on February 19, 2002

Am I the only person who actually liked 12 Monkeys?

Personally, I'd like the world to end like in The Time Machine.
posted by rory at 9:05 AM on February 19, 2002

Nice to see The Quiet Earth get a mention there. Great (quiet) apocalypse flick.

As far as Zombie flicks, I think I must have seen 90% of those (at least the ones made before I was about 13). I spent my formative years plumbing the depths of Gary's Video Library for every pulp horror movie money could rent.

But I'm perfectly normal now, your honor.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:07 AM on February 19, 2002

I loved 12 Monkeys too. Count me in.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:08 AM on February 19, 2002

Ditto with the Monkeys.
Terry Gilliam should direct everything.
posted by dong_resin at 9:12 AM on February 19, 2002

i was gonna mention end-of-world comics, but pretty much every other one is apocalyptic :) age of apocalypse was great tho!

i'm with evanizer, twelve monkeys mostly blew.
posted by kliuless at 9:22 AM on February 19, 2002

Since we're talking about Terry Gilliam and Apocolyptic movies, I should point out to anyone who's interested that Terry Gilliam will be directing an adaptation of the novel Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
I'm not sure who would be the best actors for it, but Gilliam is the perfect director.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 9:23 AM on February 19, 2002

i don't think Damnation Alley was a network TV movie actually. i remember seeing it when it came out in a drive-in double feature with Zardoz (aw yeah!). anyway - i'm dating myself now so i'll go...
posted by cheesebot at 9:26 AM on February 19, 2002

I have not seen it yet, but I am seeking out "The Last Man on Earth" starring Vincent Price. I have heard it is very good, and most online reviews seem to agree.

My own feeling is that I don't want to see all these movies, but would very much hate to miss the best ones. I have my fingers crossed in anticipation of Resident Evil.
posted by thirteen at 9:31 AM on February 19, 2002

dude, i just went to look at his list and i've seen more "post-apocalyptic" films than this without even trying! plus the fact that his definition of "post-apocalyptic" seems a bit broad to me seems to pad out his list somewhat.
posted by cheesebot at 9:33 AM on February 19, 2002

cheesebot......the fact that you have seen more flicks than him might be because you're older than him.

Can't wait for the Good Omens movie, though I have a slight quiver of fear that The Them will be really annoying. Child actors almost universally turn my stomach. Gilliam though, should be able to pull it off, given the remarkable precedent of "I won't look at your willy" from Brazil.

Oh hey, shouldn't Invasion of the Body Snatchers be on an apocalypse list?
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:38 AM on February 19, 2002

I'll second 'The Quiet Earth' - probably my favourite post-apocalyptic flick. Those closed seatbelts on empty seats in the crashed plane get me every time...

A Canticle for Leibowitz is definitely great, too. (Did you know there's a sequel?)

I wonder if post-apocalyptic fiction and films are something you only really get if you came of age during the Cold War?
posted by rory at 9:42 AM on February 19, 2002

No, Damnation Alley was a full-blown hollywood crapfest. The original novella by Roger Zelazny was infinitely better, and apparently the treatment of it made him so disgusted that he stopped optioning his stories for a while. It was originally a post-apocalyptic episodic journey written in hard-boiled style. Sweeeeet.
posted by Hildago at 9:48 AM on February 19, 2002

thank you rory, i did not know there was a sequel to canticle for leibowitz, i shall persue.
so, i really have read and seen alot of these poac things. i have found that a major chunk of anime is concerned with that type of thing. recently hollywood has been imbued with a fin de siecle obsession with the destruction of earth. i think that will (has) calm (ed) down abit.
i suppose 'silent running' might count? fantastic film.
posted by asok at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2002

Anyone recall a long out of print book (ca. late 70s) by Kip Niven and Jerry Pournelle called Lucifer's Hammer? I remember liking it but not much more.
posted by BentPenguin at 10:53 AM on February 19, 2002

Kip? Jerry?
posted by cheesebot at 11:12 AM on February 19, 2002

CrunchyFrog - That's the best news I've heard all week. Gilliam is about the only director I would trust with something like Good Omens.
posted by tdismukes at 11:12 AM on February 19, 2002

Am I the only person who actually liked 12 Monkeys?

Another monkey-lover here. I actually bought a laserdisc of this movie. (Later replaced it with a DVD, of course.)
posted by kindall at 11:43 AM on February 19, 2002

testament (w/ kevin costner)

Actually, Costner had a fairly small role in the film. The leading role was played by Jane Alexander, in a tour de force performance. This is a terrific movie, but very emotional and intensely sad and depressing. You feel like you've been put through the wringer after this one.

I think "The Omega Man" is a wretched movie, and an insult to its fabulous source material, Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. I had read that there was an earlier film of Matheson's book from the late 50s or early 60s starring Vincent Price, called (I think) "The Last Man on Earth". Anybody see that?

Here are two more classics for the book list:
Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank
Earth Abides, by George Stewart

And another movie, cheesy as hell but classic in a way: "Panic in Year Zero", with Ray Milland and ... Frankie Avalon!
posted by chuq at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2002

Earth Abides, by George Stewart

*Waves Ish hammer in salute*
posted by Skot at 11:51 AM on February 19, 2002

thirteen - I have not seen it yet, but I am seeking out "The Last Man on Earth" starring Vincent Price. I have heard it is very good, and most online reviews seem to agree.

I couldn't recommend it more highly. A truly exceptional film, based on a truly exceptional book, Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend". If you can't find the film, at least read the book.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:58 AM on February 19, 2002

As for novels, how about A Canticle for Leibowitz?

Yup, in that case, the sequel should also rate a mention - "Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman"

More books, in no particular order (except that the books at the end are mostly written for children) and with no regard for quality or lack thereof; although some are obviously very good indeed, classics. -

The Chrysalids (I recomend the novel, I don't know the play)
The Krakan Awakes
A Journal Of the Flood Year
The Shore of Women
Alas, Babylon
Eternity Road
Across Realtime
Lucifer's Hammer
Lilith's Brood (+ Sequals)
Bangs and Whimpers : Stories About the End of the World
The Time Machine

The Rift
I am Legend
Fever 1793
The Plague Tales
The Burning Road
This Is the Way the World Ends
Doomsday Book
Our children's children
A Gift upon the Shore
The Chronoliths
The War of the Worlds
The New Madrid Run
Chasm City
Vanishing Point
The Return
The Memoirs of a Survivor
Warday : And the Journey Onward
Earth Abides
On the Beach
The Last Ship

When the Wind Blows

Girl Who Owned A city
When the Tripods Came (The Tripod Series) the White Mountains/the City of Gold and Lead/the Pool of Fire.
Empty World
Level 7
Dead Water Zone

I haven't read all of these, in case the note would seem to infer as much. They are taken either from memory or from my wish list. Sorry if some have already been mentioned, it took me a while to compose the list.
posted by lucien at 12:20 PM on February 19, 2002

In the 25th century, the post-apocalyptic genre has been utterly exhausted. This is due largely to the fact that Earth has been through several of them and has generally shrugged them off. It should be noted that Gaia is deeply offended that she was depicted in the film Waterworld as somehow unable to bounce back.
posted by dzigavertov at 4:27 PM on February 19, 2002

I like a little-seen Canadian film from 1998 called Last Night, but it may more accurately be a pre-apocolyptic film, as the movie is about what leads up to the end of the world, not what happens afterward. David Cronenberg's performance as the gas company executive who decides to call all of the company's customers individually to thank them for their business over the years is priceless. Unfortunately, it only played on about 15 screens in the US and never found much of an audience.
posted by geneablogy at 5:07 PM on February 19, 2002

kinda reminds me of the book of life geneablogy. dunno why, cuz like i haven't seen it or anything :) but same year!
posted by kliuless at 5:25 PM on February 19, 2002

In the pre-apocalyptic vein, there's also Miracle Mile.
posted by kindall at 6:38 PM on February 19, 2002

Tom Disch has written several novels that should be on the post-apoc short list. The most important ones are The Genocides, and Camp Concentration. I found the former really depressing. The latter is not, and may technically not be post-apoc, although clearly something like an apocalypse is happening during the course of the novel. Or perhaps, 'human evolution paradigm shift' might be closer, but clearly, a world is coming to an end, a new one beginning, and the transition isn't pretty. The subtext is Vietnam, but unlike a lot of books from that era, the themes are universal enough so that the book does not seem dated.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:40 PM on February 19, 2002

Daleks. 'nuff said.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:53 PM on February 20, 2002

its larry niven!
and its still in print
just do a search for larry niven on amazon
posted by Iax at 2:54 PM on February 20, 2002

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