Celebrate the End of the World with the 20 Best Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Movies.
We’re almost upon December 21st…the day the Mayan calendar ends and supposedly we do too.
What better way to wait for the end of the world than by watching movies about that topic?
Besides some might be educational about how to survive if we make it to the Post–Apocalyptic stage.
Here are The Top 20 Best Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic Movies that cover every stage of the end times. Assuming we last long enough, I’ll have Amazon links for Blu-ray’s and DVD’s and will mention films that are on Netflix streaming.
20. Zombieland (2009)
Hey, living in a zombie wasteland isn’t so bad. You can fall in love, hang out with Bill Murray and go to an amusement park! (This film truly is clairvoyant, how else to explain the short supply of Twinkies?).
19. Night Of The Comet (1984)
This darkly funny cult classic of 80’s teenagers waiting out the nuclear wasteland has a quirky charm.
18. Children Of Men (2006)
This far more somber British film shows a future where infertility is so rampant that humanity is facing extinction. But when a woman is found pregnant she becomes the target of revolutionaries and must attempt to escape the police state.
17. Miracle Mile (1989)
A terrifying account of a nuclear strike in Los Angeles. (I covered this in more detail on my Top 30 Most Underrated Movies Of All Time).
16. Soylent Green (1973)
A dark tale of a future where the world is overpopulated and underfed feels plausible. The solution created by Soylent Food Industries is disturbing, yet sadly logical. This marks the first in the Charlton Heston Post-Apocalyptic Trifecta! (Want some Soylent Green crackers?)
15. The Omega Man (1971)/The Last Man On Earth (1964)
Both Films Available On Netflix Streaming
2007’s I Am Legend blew. I prefer these adaptations of Richard Matheson’s novella, be it Vincent Price’s B-cheapie The Last Man On Earth, or the 60’s adaptation, The Omega Man, (which has the most inappropriate musical score ever made). Charlton Heston Trifecta Part 2….
14. Wall-E (2008)
The Post-Apocalypse was never as charming than in Pixar’s animated film of 2 robots who find each other, along with the secret to the lack of human life on Earth.
13. The Quiet Earth (1985)
The strains of isolation are hinted at, but glossed over in many post-apocalyptic tales, but it’s the front and center element in this story of a man’s grapple with loneliness after surviving a nuclear assault. (Shades of the Twilight Zone episode Time Enough At Last).
12. Take Shelter (2011)
Is Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) crazy or does he really know the apocalypse is coming? This suspenseful film will keep you guessing the entire time. (I also covered this in more detail in the Most Underrated Movie Series).
11. Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1978)
It doesn’t take mass destruction to create an apocalypse. If every person lost their soul and their thoughts were replaced by a merely functional presence, one devoid of love, humor or intimacy, is that not humanity’s end? I think so. It also has one of the scariest scenes of all time. (Also check out the 1956 original).
10. The Matrix (1999)
What better way to experience the end times than a simulation of life in the year 1999? Before W, before high gas prices, before 9/11? But then Neo had to take that damn red pill and ruin it. This movie was so ground breaking it inspired endless rip-offs and inferior sequels.
9. 28 Days Later (2002)/28 Weeks Later (2007)
A super infectious virus that causes people to become marathon running zombies is a terrifying concept, as it seems unstoppable. Both film’s make this premise feel frighteningly real.
You might also enjoy the African zombie film, The Dead, which I discuss in my list of Great But Forgotten Horror Movies.
8. Dawn of The Dead (1978)
George A Romero’s finest zombie movie shows that even with an apocalypse, people still need their stuff, and the use of a shopping mall as fortress is brilliant social commentary on materialism. (The 2004 Zack Snyder remake is enjoyable as well).
7. A Boy And His Dog (1975)
Available On Netflix Streaming
This movie adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s work is bizarre and mesmerizing. Don Johnson is a hormonal teenager aided by his telepathic canine sidekick as they venture throughout the irradiated wasteland. Poetic and abstract, it’s disturbing and impossible to forget.
6. Escape from New York (1981)
New York City has been turned into a prison for violent criminals. The President’s plane crashes inside and he’s taken hostage. It’s up to war criminal Snake Plissken to extricate him to safety. Seeing Plissken walk through the desolated city looks apocalyptic in and of itself, but knowing that a nuclear war could happen if he fails makes it even more so.
Check out where ‘Escape From New York’ ranks on my 11 Best Movie Commentaries List!
5. The Road (2009)
Director John Hillicoat’s (The Proposition, Lawless) adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel is dark as hell. The world has been wrecked by an unspecified ecological catastrophe. Animals are in short supply. A boy and father migrate across the landscape, fighting off cannibals and other lowlifes. Despite its bleakness, the bond between father and son is truly touching.
Also check out the similar vibe of the horror apocalypse thriller Stakeland. Check out my summary in my Great But Forgotten Horror Movie Series.
4. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece is mind-bending time travel at its finest, where criminal James Cole volunteers to venture back to discover the diabolical cause of the horrific virus that keeps mankind underground.
3. Planet of The Apes (1968)
Heston’s best of his trifecta. Astronauts crash-land on a planet that feels like Earth, except speaking primates rule the land.
The surprise finale was scripted by the king of twist endings, Twilight Zone creator/writer Rod Serling.
2. Road Warrior aka Mad Max 2 (1981)
Can you imagine a world where society collapses because of fighting over the world’s oil supply? Do I really even need to ask that question? Amazing car chases and action sequences make this an enduring classic.
Click here to see where Road Warrior, 28 Weeks Later and Dawn Of The Dead rank in my list of 20 best movie sequels of all time.
1. The Terminator (1984)
James Cameron’s dark dystopian sci-fi flick about robots taking over their human creators is more timely than ever, but its time travel element allows just enough hope that humankind can take back their destiny.
So that wraps up Top 20 Best Apocalyptic Movies Of All Time. What are your picks? Comment below.
I will likely make a worst list at some point so that movies like 2012 and Damnation Alley can have their day. That is as long as we survive the 21st…..which we will. And all the people who spent a ton of money on survivalist gear are gonna feel real silly!
And here’s our list of the Best Movies Of 2012.
Be sure to check out my Christmas Shopping List of best DVD/Blu-Ray sets full of horror and sci-fi goodies!