Top 10 Apocalyptic Movies of All Time

When I started to do this list, I thought it would be something I would throw together in a Sunday afternoon and have some fun while doing so. But then, my mind drew a blank on the number of apocalyptic movies that I have actually seen that I had to refer to Anthony, our church movie expert. He is a movie expert because he is majoring in screen writing at the local community college. You might think: can you major in screen writing? Apparently you can, but the first line of every screen play written at the local community college is: “Would you like fries with that?”

Fortunately for Anthony, while he loves movies and everything movies, he has since realized that screen writing doesn’t pay anything to 99.6 percent of everyone in the industry. So he has changed his major.

Yet, he is still a movie expert, as far as any 22-year-old college student can be an expert. Yesterday, I asked him for a list of apocalyptic movies so I would be sure to not forget any of the important ones. But I must give you a disclaimer. This Top 10 list only refers to the Top 10 apocalyptic movies I’ve actually seen, (with one exception). I’ve missed far more than I have seen. When you see the list of all the movies that falls into this category and realize it’s been a category since the days of Wally and the Beav, you realize there are a lot of apocalyptic movies out there that most of us ignored when they came out. In fact, I could do a Top 10 list of apocalyptic movies from each of the last four decades. (I’m really getting tired of writing the word “apocalyptic.” You think it would fly off my fingers by now.)

Given all this, I’m going to try and do a serious list of apocalyptic movies and why you should or should not see them. (One more note: for all three of you in Luxora, AR who have the internet, when you see the word “apocalyptic”, think “end of the world.” That should help.)

10. Wall-E — This one was from Pixar with all the excellent animation that we have learned to expect from Pixar. It was about sweetest little clean-up robot that you have ever seen named Wall-E. What The Green Mile did for death row, this movie does for the apocalyptic  genre. It gave us syrupy feelings for the end of the world and helped us laugh about it.

In this movie, Wall-E is busy doing his duty of cleaning the earth, a forgone conclusion by the time we arrive, when he is faced with the beautiful and more aerodynamic Eve, who is looking for life on the planet earth. Things pick up once she discovers that Wall-E has already discovered life. The two are whisked away in romantic robot fashion to the Axiom, where all the remaining human life is found. Wall-E and Eve end up saving humanity by showing them that life can and does exist on earth. And reminding us that it’s better to actually love another human being than it is to have love simulated via some computer program (that was sub context of the movie).

This movie makes the list because it is kid friendly. This will help you address the issue of the apocalypse with your children and tell them what it is really going to be like (be warned, they will end up sleeping your bed the next few nights.)

9. Planet of the Apes — Charlton Heston at his best. Charlton plays one of several astronauts that land on the future earth, thinking they are on a distant planet, only to find that apes have evolved into the superior beings and humans have devolved back into the animals. In other words, apes are now running the show and the astronauts pose a threat because they can actually talk. Given the culture’s fascination with evolution at the time, the movie was a huge success

This is one of the scariest moves of my youth. I think I was 8 when I saw this movie and it so bothered me, I have yet to see it as an adult. I did see the remake from 2001 starring boy band man Marky Mark, aka Mark Wahlberg. I liked him much better running from apes than I did when he was running from groupies. But the remake wasn’t any good.

8.Night of the Living Dead & Dr. Strangelove — Both deserve mention because of their impact on culture concerning atomic bombs and zombies, not directly in that order. I have seen neither, except one seen from Dr. Strangelove where Slim Pickens rides an A-bomb out of the belly of a bomber like bucking bronco. That scene alone disturbed me enough that I have avoided the movie ever since. I’ve only included it in the list because I know of it’s importance in apocalyptic literature.

7. Alien — “In space, no one can hear you scream.” That was the tag line for this space, monster movie. However, in the movie theater, they can hear you scream and I did in a couple of places. While this is on the apocalyptic film list at Wikipedia, I’m not sure it belongs there. There is nothing in the movie that suggests the world has been destroyed and the end of times has come.

6. Mad Max — The Australians got into the act with this series of movies, bringing out the apocalypse even in Mad Max 2 and Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome. All three were fun to watch and introduced us to Mel Gibson, who has been making apocalyptic-scale movies ever since.

5. Soylent Green  — If this movie doesn’t stress how government can go bad, no movie will. Turns out growing crops won’t be possible after the apocalypse, so government steps in an decides to process food for us, only using the bodies of dying humans to do so. I think most of us would rather have barbecue rats, thank you very much!

Soylent Green also stars Charlton Heston, which I found quite interesting. I wonder if he was doing these end-times movies because he was afraid of being type-cast in all the “Moses” movies Hollywood was putting out? Or perhaps it was the fact that he made a lot of money with these movies.

4. 12 Monkeys — This one, staring Bruce Willis, was about the humans trying to find the formula to undo a mad scientists spread of a super virus. All the people who survived have to live underground in containers where the air is certain to be clean of the super virus. The only people who go to the surface are trying to find creatures who are immune so an antidote can be found.

Bruce Willis plays the reluctant volunteer just so he can get out of the underground cage and kick around top side. Eventually he is sent back in time before the spread of the virus to investigate an environmentalist group call the 12 Monkeys. Bruce ends up finding the mad scientist, but dies in the end, and the boy Bruce sees his death, so it’s like a Greek tragedy. Because of that, it made the list.

3. The Terminator — Arnold Schwarzenegger at his best, a part in which he gets to use all of his braun, and very little dialog! With that, and the fact that this movie was scary, menacing, on the cutting edge of movie technology made for a huge blockbuster and eventual series of movies giving Schwarzenegger something to do other than making lousy comedies or sword movies. I loved the entire series, but I’m not sure I will see Terminator 4.

2. The Omega Man — Again, another movie that scared the living daylights out of me and  starred Charlton Heston. It seems the Charlton was on the cutting edge of sci-fi movies for his time. He had successfully thrown off the Moses image he had earlier in life. In fact, I think he was so successful that he became typecast in any movie that was sci-fi where they couldn’t find another star to play.

But back to the movie. The Omega Man was end-times movie in which Heston plays Robert Neville, the last man alive. Or so he thinks. He is also the man who develops a syrum to counteract the virus that turns mankind into vicious, men-eating ghouls. He dies at the end, just as he is able to give the syrum to the other living humans on the planet, thus saving mankind from destruction.

1. I Am Legend — I know, same basic idea as Omega Man, but updated with Will Smith in the lead roll, ground zero as New York City and the ghouls are far more menacing and vicious than the original. This is one of the few remakes that I think did a better job than the original. It was so good, I bought the DVD and I watch it when I’m feeling really down about life. I can look at the pathetic Neville character and surmise: “See, there is a guy who’s life is a lot worse off than yours!” I feel so much better after that.

This movie tops the list because it still has the scare factor of the original and a solution for the problems of New York City. OK, that was meant as humor, but I like the city a whole lot more in this movie than I do in real life. Watch it and tell me you are not scared.

OK, what are some of your favorite apocalyptic movies?

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8 thoughts on “Top 10 Apocalyptic Movies of All Time

  1. Julie

    Timothy, Tim and I watched this several years ago and it’s one of those movies that just stays with you, although it goes against everything we believe in as Christians. Have you seen it? It’s really worth a watch. The Knowing:

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      1. Julie

        Oops, the movie is actually entitled “Knowing” and now…I’m thinking about it again :-/. It’s a thinker type movie and doesn’t have your typical disaster/apocalyptic movie ending…I think that’s why I liked it, lol.

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      2. BTW, I was telling my sister about the post and she said I should see some movie that was full of numbers staring Nicola Cage! Sounds like I need to see it.

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  2. Soylent Green also stars Charlton Heston, which I found quite interesting. I wonder if he was doing these end-times movies because he was afraid of being type-cast in all the “Moses” movies Hollywood was putting out? Or perhaps it was the fact that he made a lot of money with these movies.

    Or perhaps he was just awesome. I really can’t imagine anybody else saying, “Soylent Green is [spoiler alert]!” And BTW, that’s a huge spoiler up there, and I would be really upset with you if I hadn’t already seen the movie. Though the quote is so ubiquitous I think most people probably already know.

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