Best End of the World Movies -

Best End of the World Movies

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Best End of the World Movies

And we feel fine!

By Rob Vaux     December 21, 2012

 Happy Apocalypse Day everyone! As you all know, the ancient Mayan calendar lists today, December 21, 2012, as the end of all things. We don’t know how you plan to spend your last day on Earth, but in case you need some inspiration, we’ve broken down some of the best end-of-the-world movies for your viewing pleasure.  They’re organized by the exact type of apocalypse, allowing you to tailor your last few hours to fit your proclivities. Enjoy!


Nuclear War: The Mad Max Trilogy

We’ll start with the obvious candidate, and the one that still defines post-apocalyptic mayhem. Mel Gibson cuts a swath of destruction through the crumbling remains of modern society, into a desert wasteland where rats fight among the ashes, and finally to the seething pit of Bartertown where humanity slowly starts over. All three films feature some of the most spectacular chase scenes ever filmed, along with an appreciable amount of grunge and an ongoing cavalcade of the transmundane. It’s also nice to know that we’ll still have Tina Turner after the bomb drops…  smoking hot in that chainmail dress as always.


Biological Agent: 12 Monkeys

If bombs aren’t your thing, then Terry Gilliam provides a kinder, gentler end of the world. It’s really more of an end of humanity, actually, as a bio-plague wipes out 99% of the population and leaves the survivors clinging to a squalid existence underground. Not even time travel can save them, since the future is immutable and will not change. At least the animals turn out okay… and hey, with a free run of the place, they may ultimately do a better job than we ever did.


Pollution: WALL*E

It’s hard to imagine the end of the world as whimsical, but never underestimate Pixar at their best. The invite us to share an Earth that has become a giant trash heap, covered in pollution and occupied only by a dogged little robot still doing his best to clean it up. It’s a lonely existence, but we can only hope that – if we were in his shoes – we’d keep ourselves occupied and entertained as well as he does.


Alien Attack: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

I was tempted to go with War of the Worlds here, since it pretty much defines the genre. I could also go with Don Siegel’s original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, still powerful after all these years. But both of them end on hopeful notes, with the idea that we could rebuild after shaking off our otherworldly oppressors. Not so Philip Kaufman’s chilling Body Snatchers remake, updated for the post-hippy 1970s still recovering from the fallout of Watergate and Vietnam. The aliens’ relentless incursion takes on a despairing quality unseen in most invasion movies… and the last shot leaves no doubt as to which side ultimately wins this battle.


Supernatural Menace: In the Mouth of Madness

Technically, H.P. Lovecraft is more of a sci-fi author than a supernatural author. But if you’re going to end the world in a terrifying way, his name goes at the top of the list. John Carpenter and screenwriter Michael De Luca riffed on his themes (while adding a few of their own) to create a head trip of an apocalypse in which Lovercraft’s Old Ones take over the world with the help of a bestselling author.


The best part? We the audience become a part of the story, as the in-film book that drives everyone mad turns into the movie we’ve just been watching. I can’t imagine a better way to ring in the destruction of the world than that.


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VTGamehendge 12/21/2012 12:43:26 AM

Threads.  Gotta be Threads.

FerretJohn 12/21/2012 1:06:33 AM

I told my mother that the world is supposed to end today, but she said I still have to go look for a job.  Does that seem right to you?

Wiseguy 12/21/2012 4:11:24 AM

There are so many good ones and all these are very good. I'm especially big on Mouth of Madness.  The Matrix and Terminator could easily be on this list.

But if I had to choose 1 film that took the subject seriously without any fantasy or sci/fi I have to go with The Road. True we never really know what caused it, my guess is solar flares, but that film stayed with me for days after watching it. Heck even now when I think about it depresses me, in a good way.

CyanideRush 12/21/2012 4:54:29 AM

The Road IS expertly crafted, Wiseguy. I totally agree with your points on it. -Chuck

hanso 12/21/2012 5:06:04 AM

Demon gods:  Cabin in the Woods

Virus:  28 Days Later

Was thinking about no babies in Children of Men but a kid is born in that movie, and no sun in Sunshine but they manage to spark it back up at the end so I guess they wouldn't count.  But if they do, then add Children of Men and Sunshine to this.

jedibanner 12/21/2012 5:22:36 AM

Love in the Mouth of Madness but as it was mentionned, The Road kind of takes the hope out of life so badly, it's a great movie and really shows an end of a world into something very hard to imagine.

fenngibbon 12/21/2012 6:24:37 AM

  There's a movie called Testament that might even be more depressing than The Road. It was made back in 1983, and it's set in a small town that's a 90 minute drive from San Francisco. There's a nuclear war at the beginning of the film and San Francisco is hit, but the town is far enough away that it isn't destroyed, and the rest of the film is the town slowly dying from radiation poisoning and general despair.


On a more positive note, a plague that wipes out 99% of the human race would leave over 70 million people alive. That's more than enough to ensure not just that the human race survives, but that our current level of civilization continues.

When you really think about it, there are just so many human beings now that you have to wonder what kind of event could wipe every one of us out (I'm not talking fantasy, I'm talking about a real, possible situation).

karas1 12/21/2012 6:57:47 AM

Supervolcanoes fenngibbon.

violator14 12/21/2012 7:13:53 AM

 What is that karas??

ObiWannaJones 12/21/2012 7:18:19 AM

Zombie Apocalypse: the original Night of the Living Dead


Plants running amok: Day of the Triffids

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