As we start down the road towards the end of days, keep an eye on the calendar. December 21, 2012. That’s the day when it’s all supposed to end, or begin ending, or begin (again). It’s all in the eye of the beholder. What better way to spend your last days on Earth than watching some of the best films about the end days?
My criteria for this 10 film list is simple: the end of the world has to, in some shape or form, be realized. It cannot simply be a threat in the film, it actually needs to have happened at some point to some degree. You’d be surprised how quickly this eradicated fan favorites like Armageddon and the Planet of the Apes series from the list.
Also, I wanted the films to be relatively easy to get your mitts on. You will find links to rent/purchase all the films on the list below. And no, I’m not encouraging hoarding! Although it’s always a good idea to keep an emergency kit on hand. Get yours here at Amazon. Better yet, follow FEMA’s checklist and make your own. While you’re at it, please consider donating to the Red Cross to help Hurricane Sandy survivors get back on their feet.
Educate yourself! Before diving in, why not read what others have to say about the end of the world happening on December 21, 2012? Here’s a great list of resources:
Believers: Official site for the end of the world
Neil Degrasse Tyson says everything is going to be okay. I believe him and you should too:
National Geographic says Newly Discovered Mayan Mural Debunks 2012 “Doomsday” Myth:
If anything, this list, which spans some of the most notable end of the world/apocalyptic films from the last 50 years, should tell us one thing. As long as we’ve existed as a species, we’ve thought about (and worried about) the end of the world, the end of our civilization, the end of us. But guess what, folks? It hasn’t happened yet.
Click on the film’s title for more information!
The Last Man on Earth – this 1964 classic served as the inspiration for George Romero’s Dead triology and serves as a lasting memorial to the genius of Vincent Price. The film, based on the novel by Richard Matheson, has been reimagined many times over the years, but I feel this version filmed in glorious black and white serves up serious atmosphere, chills, and zombie-realness. Buy or watch now on Amazon.
Night of the Comet – released at the height of teenager-centric cinema in 1984, this film has it all – laughs, thrills (tame by today’s standards), and zombies. The film is on the list not because of any cinematic achievement but because it deals with the end of the world from the perspective of youth – disbelieving, unaffected, arrogant youth. Buy or watch now on Amazon.
The Terminator – this film doesn’t need much of a preface thanks to the mythology now surrounding the Terminator franchise. Just say the word “Skynet” in a crowd and someone is bound to turn around and at least look at you if not strike up a conversation. Thanks to the genius of James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd and William Wisher, Jr. for a screenplay that was as bold and daring in 1984 as it is today. Buy or watch now on Amazon.
12 Monkeys – starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt in one of his most memorable performances, this film was not the first to depict the end of the world following a viral outbreak, but it was one of the most visually and mentally stimulating ones. Director Terry Gilliam, perhaps best known for his work with Monty Python, shares his unique vision of the future, present, and past in this film that spawns multiple moments in one man’s life on his quest to find the terrorists responsible for the viral outbreak. Buy or watch now on Amazon.
Deep Impact – still one of the most emotionally impactful of all Summer blockbusters before and since, Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact went where no other disaster blockbuster had gone before. The film takes us to the brink on an intimate level using carefully drawn character studies that make the end of the world more palpable than ever before. The tsunami scene remains one of the most emotionally painful moments in cinema. Buy or watch now on Amazon.
28 Days Later – Danny Boyle’s 2002 film challenged the preconceived mythology of zombies: what they were, how they behaved, and how they came to be. Seen as many as a genre-changer, 28 Days Later is fearless and terrifying. Buy or watch now on Amazon.
Wall·E – Marking another successful Disney/Pixar collaboration, this 2008 computer animated feature film may seem out of place on a list where violence, blood shed and the destruction of all humankind prevails. But, look again. Dealing with themes of mass consumerism, declining environmental health, and the abandonment of Earth, Wall-E is dealing with some pretty heady stuff. Who says the end of the world is just for adults? Buy or watch now on Amazon.
Doomsday – from director Neil Marshall (the man behind The Descent) comes the 2008 science fiction film Doomsday. Cannibals, Scots, viruses, clans – this movie has it all, including a gigantic wall separating Scotland from the rest of the world. Bloody, shocking and bloody shocking, Doomsday wasn’t even screened for critics prior to it’s commercial release. Buy or watch now on Amazon.
The Road – the 2009 film adaptation of Cormac McCharthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name is gritty, grimy and faithful (for the most part) to McCarthy’s story. I read the book during a 11-day power outage during an ice storm in early 2012 and was glad that certain parts were omitted during its translation to the big screen. After all not everything is meant to be seen with the eyes. Buy or watch now on Amazon.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – I saw this film on the opening day of it’s release after much anticipation. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley star as unlikely lovers in this tale about what you do when you know the end is coming soon. The film is passionate and funny and somber at the same time. You’ll often find yourself thinking it’s not really going to end, but… Buy or watch now on Amazon.
I want to hear from you! Leave a comment with your favorite end of the world/apocalypse films. Make sure your selections meet the criteria (the end of the world has to, in some shape or form, be realized. It cannot simply be a threat in the film, it actually needs to have happened at some point to some level) . Enjoy and remember to keep calm and carry on!