Sometimes I find myself wishing the apocalypse would hurry up and come already. I try to see the positive in most things, and when you think about it, if civilization ended today, you wouldn't have to go to work tommorow. Also consider that your bills and credit history would be gone, you could make your boss your post-end-of-the-world bitch, you could wear face paint and carry guns in the street, and you could convert your truck into an armored tank with the bodies of your enemies tied to the hood. Okay, so sure you'd have to fight off hordes of biker gangs, ancient dragons, flesh-eating zombies and avoid exposure to radiation put hey, you gotta take the bad with the good, right?
I think the innate human desire to have a radical change in one's life is why post-apocalyptic movies are so popular. We go to work, say hello to our neighbors, pay our bills and get annoyed with people who cut us off on the highway, and a major disaster represents the ultimate escape from all that. Plus it's the true test of our will to survive. Whenever I watch the Mad Max films or a good zombie flick, I can't help but think what I'd do if I were stuck in a house under seige by the walking dead or if insane bikers with mohawks wanted to steal my gasoline. I also wonder sometimes if maybe I need to start stockpiling shotgun shells , fuel, and face paint...y' know, just in case. And tell me this, does it keep you up at night worrying about whether or not you'll be able to get a fair hearing at the ape tribunal?
Here's a few of my favorite moments in post-apocalyptic pop-culture...
Night Of The living Dead : "They're coming to get you Barbara!" And so a teasing joke leads to terror as the dead come to life and George Romero set the bar for all zombie movies to come. With three sequels and a remake, (not to mention a remake of one of the sequels) we've learned that slow moving, dull witted creatures with a taste for flesh can indeed bring civilization to it's knees. What's more frightening, that people will become zombies and stalk us, or that we to have band together with people we don't like to survive?
Damnation Alley : You can't go wrong with a movie that opens with a guy fighting giant scorpions while riding a dirt bike. There's one bright side to this adventure in a nuclear wasteland, you still get to go on road trips! And this film featured a prime example of a really cool giant armored, futuristic tank-thing, which was later re-used in a gasoline commercial.... Also notable is that the Roger Zelany sci-fi novel that inspired this flick also inspired a song by cult prog-rock band Hawkwind.
Escape from New York : A film that brings you a the ultimate version of hard time and gives new meaning to the term "prison bitch". How about being dropped into a sealed up city with the worst scum of the Earth waiting to show you your place in their food chain? And get this, the Duke Of New York is Issac Hayes, and this time he's gonna tell you to shut your mouth. This John Carpenter movie rules, featuring Kurt Russell as the ultimate bad-ass anti-hero with cult-movie cast favorites Harry Dean Stanton, Donald Pleasance, and Adrienne Barbeau, one of the breast...um, I mean best B-actresses ever....
Thundarr The Barbarian : Somehow somebody managed to convince NBC to include a cartoon about a barbarian, a wookie-lookin' thing, and a sorceress fighting for good in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in it's Saturday morning line-up. Every weekend kids got to see famous monuments all over America fallen down and covered in vines while a guy wearing animal skins smashed up evil robot orbs and mutant beasts. Let's face it, the 80's were a good time to be a kid, and Saturday mornings were good to us. And one more reason why Thundarr The Barbarian was so cool? The series' visual look was based mostly on designs by the late, great, Jack Kirby.
Mad Max : I think the Mad Max flicks contain the most bleak scenario for post-war living I've ever seen, but at the same time one of the most fashionable. Basically in the future all anybody has to wear are shoulder pads, fetish outfits and left-overs from Hot Topic, with mohawks and face-paint to accessorize the new survivalist fashions. Gas and shotgun shells are worth more than gold and be can used as bargining chips, and road rage has gone far beyond flipping off the guy who's driving too slow in the passing lane. Even the kid sidekick in the movie is a rabid freak who's devolved down the animal chain, or is that Ted Nugent's son? You can learn pretty much every thing about the Mad Max movies at this website here, and you can check a badass reproduction of Max's Interceptor right here.
The War Of The Worlds : The original H.G. Wells novel kicked off one of the great staples of science fiction, the alien invasion. Orson Wells caused a genuine panic when he adapted his infamous radio broadcast, and after failed attempts by Cecil B. Demille and Hitchcock, George Pal finally pulled off one of the greatest science-fiction end of the world stories of all time with his 1953 film. The true kicker of this story is that the aliens were gonna win and there was nothing we could do about it. Whole cities were vanquished and any attempt to stop them was a failure. The human race survived because we got lucky. The unstoppable alien invasion is an often imitated device for lesser apocalyptic movies like Battlefield Earth (yes, it really is as bad as you've heard) and sometimes comes packaged as a blatant rip-off like Independence Day, but the original remain the best. Word has it that a new War Of The Worlds is being developed by Spielberg, could it be E.T. really planned on kicking our ass all along?
Planet Of The Apes : Hands down, the greatest fall of man movie ever made, featuring the best Twilight Zone style ending ever seen on film, and starring one of the greatest actors of all time, the man himself, Charlton Heston. There is no finer moment than seeing that camera pan away from Taylor and revealing the films horrible secret....."YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP. DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!"
If you want more end-of-the-world goodness, go check out Post-Apocalyptic Media, a massive site dedicated all things apocalyptic, be it Nuclear War, Disease, Aliens, or a good old fashioned Zombie infestaton, here’s the ultimate website for anything to do with the apocalypse! Movies, books, videogames, you name it, they got ya covered!