The 50 Best Post Apocalyptic Movies
I’ve collated a cross-section of cinema’s biggest, boldest and bleakest looks at the end of the world.
From huge Hollywood blockbusters to low-budget big-thrills independent films, the 50 post apocalyptic movies covered here offer a thorough grounding in the genre’s finest creations. From the classic zombie apocalypse story line to nuclear Armageddon, you’ll find every imaginable type of post-apocalyptic fiction ever to grace cinema screens – including a handful of weird and wonderful end of the world scenarios.
1) I Am Legend, 2007
I Am Legend tells the story of Robert Neville: the apparent sole survivor of a disease that has decimated humanity, and left him eking out a meagre and lonely existence in the heart of New York City. With the city dominated by terrifying, vampiric creatures, Neville (and eventually, his trusty canine companion) spends his days foraging for supplies, and his nights holed-up in his safehouse – until one day, he lefts his guard down.
This particular adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic novel (#13 in our round-up of the 50 best post-apocalyptic books) took a lot of heat for it’s non-canon ending: taking a decidedly ‘Hollywood’ approach to the film’s conclusion, and arguably, changing the entire film’s message. If you’re after a more true-to-the-book interpretation, check out 1971’s Omega Man.
2) Omega Man, 1971
Speak of the devil: if you’re interested in watching a counterpoint to Will Smith’s glossy, overly-polished adaptation of Matheson’s novel, Omega Man takes the same source material and runs in a completely different direction. Though not without a few artistic liberties (biological warfare is responsible for the end of days, and not a mysterious bacterial plague), the over-arching message of the 1971 adaptation stays much closer to the spirit of the book – creating a story vastly more profound and thought-provoking than the 2007 adaptation.
3) The Road, 2009
Winning the accolade of most depressing film in a list of post-apocalyptic movies is no mean feat, but The Road manages to paint the most desolate picture of the apocalypse I’ve ever seen.
Based on Cormac McCarthy’s incredible novel of the same name (and #39 in our list of the 50 best post apocalyptic books), The Road stars Vigo Mortensen as ‘the Man’: a nameless wanderer, shepherding his only son through a dangerous and disturbing world. Beautiful and bleak in equal measure, The Road manages to live up to the excellence of its source material.
4) Mad Max, 1979
Studded leather, muscle cars and Mel Gibson: either I’m watching a celebrity edition of World’s Wildest Police Chases, or it’s time to talk about the legendary Mad Max.
The film’s protagonist, Max Rockatansky, is a former police officer, driven to a life of isolation after the murder of his family. As society crumbles around him, he reluctantly takes up the mantle of vigilante, and eventually, hero: helping to stem the tide of marauding bandits threatening to destroy the last remnants of civilisation.
Mad Max’s vivid wasteland and larger-than-life characters have played a huge role in shaping the latest generation of post-apocalyptic fiction, including video games like RAGE and the Fallout series. The success of Mad Max also spawned two sequels (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome), and most recently, a remake, in the form of Mad Max: Fury Road
5) Mad Max 2, 1981
Mad Max 2 picks up where the original left off, packing a vibrant design aesthetic, violent fight scenes, and desolate, beautiful cinematography. Following a broken, beaten Max on a journey to rediscover his humanity, the film tracks a running conflict between peaceful settlers and bloodthirsty (bondage gear-wearing) marauders; creating a cult classic in the process.
Mad Max 2‘s comic-book vibe has had a huge impact on post apocalyptic fiction, with its influence visible everywhere from video games (both Borderlands’ and RAGE’s aesthetic owe a debt of thanks to Max Rockatansky) to later films (like Waterworld and Doomsday, both featured in this list). If you’ve ever played the Fallout franchise, you’ll even see heavy similarities between Max and his faithful canine companion, and the game’s leather jacket-clad protagonist and his trusty companion Dogmeat.
6) Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,1985
The last film to feature Mel Gibson, Beyond Thunderdome sees Mad Max don gladiatorial garb to enter the Thunderdome, and face off against a dwarf-giant alliance known as Master Blaster.
From an eternal nuclear summer, to a community of orphans living out of the wreckage of a downed 747 (and even featuring Tina Turner in a leading role), the third instalment to the Mad Max pantheon is a surreal, exciting romp through the post apocalypse.
7) Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015
30-years after the last Mad Max film, Fury Road sees Tom Hardy take the series’ reins from Mel Gibson. After Max’s capture by tyrannical bandits, and the escape of one of the bandit’s own warriors (played by Charlize Theron), an uneasy alliance is forged between the two, as they attempt to escape their pursuers in the armoured truck known as the War Rig.
Ten Academy Award nominations (and six victories) later, and this newcomer to the legendary Mad Max franchise has cemented its place as a worthy addition to Max Rockatansky’s legacy.
8) Children of Men, 2006
Children of Men takes a different approach to the apocalypse.
Instead of seeing the world destroyed by a deluge of asteroids, an outbreak of mysterious virus, or an uprising of sentient monkeys (I’m looking at you, Planet of the Apes), it’s a far quieter demise that befalls humanity: a sudden, inexplicable and incurable case of infertility. With humanity’s future called into question, the Earth’s few remaining children find themselves idolised, even fought-over: and the world’s ageing population begins to grind to a halt.
This film version of PD James classic novel The Children of Men (clocking in at #26 in our list of the 50 best post-apocalyptic books) manages to pack-in a surprising amount of action and drama, making it an absolute must-watch for any fans of post-apocalyptic drama.
9) A Boy and His Dog, 1975
If the preceding films have struck you as all too serious and foreboding, it’s time to enter the post apocalyptic world of A Boy and His Dog. The story follows 18-year old Vic, and telepathic dog, Blood, as they scavenge for food in the ruined wastes of America.
When the duo encounter an underground community, Vic realises all too late that he’s been lured there for a single, nefarious purpose: sex. For reasons I don’t fully understand, Vic takes it upon himself to escape and rejoin his trusty telepathic companion.
10) Snowpiercer, 2013
As the Earth’s climate spiralled out of control, the world united in their decision to face the calamity head-on: but unfortunately, their attempts at climate engineering transform the world into an inhospitable, ice-covered wasteland.
Now, the planet’s sole survivors live aboard Snowpiercer – a high-speed train stuck perpetually circling the globe. In a classic dystopian twist, the train is divided into lower-class and upper-class sections – and as a cryptic message finds its way to the rear of the train, it looks like an uprising is imminent.
11) Doomsday, 2008
Scotland has endured its fair share of strife over the years, from the erection of Hadrian’s Wall to the invention of the deep fried Mars bar. Unfortunately, both events vanish into insignificance in light of The Reaper Virus – leading to the complete segregation of Scotland from the rest of mainland Britain.
When an outbreak of the virus occurs in England, some 27 years after the quarantine, the government send out an investigative party beyond the border – and within minutes of their arrival, they find themselves captive in a Medieval castle.
Fun fact: if you’re also a fan of Fallout 4, you can download Doomsday’s famous face paint as a sweet hi-res mod.
12) The Day After Tomorrow, 2004
From wolves roaming the snow-covered wastes of New York, to helicopter pilots literally freezing solid, The Day After Tomorrow is a smorgasbord of climate-induced post apocalyptic carnage.
The story follows Jack Hall, a paleoclimatologist (and general doomsayer) as he tries to convince the world’s governments to prepare for a climate-changing weather event. A few hurricanes, snowstorms and tsunamis later, and a new Ice Age is threatening to swallow the world – and Jack’s son with it.
13) Damnation Alley, 1977
Based on Roger Zelazny’s book of the same name, Damnation Alley sees the world succumb to the impacts of nuclear war, as the US and Russia trade world-ending blows at the climax of the Cold War.
The end result is a planet titled off its axis, creating huge sandstorms, off-the-chart radiation levels, and a few giant, mutated scorpions for good measure. To this post apocalyptic backdrop we chart the journey of Lieutenant Jake Tanner and Major Sam Denton, as they try to cross the perilous “Damnation Alley” in search of the source of a mysterious radio transmission.
14) Oblivion, 2013
The world of Oblivion has seen better days: after an extraterrestrial war, Earth is a destroyed, empty place, home only to a few rogue aliens and the drones that are tasked with destroying them.
Sent down from the orbiting platform that houses the world’s population, Jack Harper (played by Tom Cruise) is tasked with maintaining these drones – until a chance encounter with a scavenger (Morgan Freeman) leads Jack to discover that not everything is as it seems.
Fun fact: Oblivion takes place in the year 2077, familiar to many fans of post apocalyptic fiction as the year the Fallout franchise’s Great War.
15) 9, 2009
At the end of the world, what will be left behind? The Tim Burton film 9 sets out to answer that question, following a small band of sentient rag dolls as they struggle to evade the machines that constantly seek them.
Based on a short story of the same name, the film tackles grand, existential issues through the unassuming guise of an animated film, pairing beautiful visuals with some deep and disturbing plot twists, making 9 one of the most profound and original post apocalyptic movies on this list.
16) The Last Man on Earth, 1964
The Last Man on Earth was the first film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s incredible novel I Am Legend (alongside Omega Man and Will Smith’s eponymous take) – and the only version to feature Matheson’s guiding influence.
Starring legendary screen-smith Vincent Price, and filmed almost entirely in the Italian city of Rome, this half-a-century old take on a classic post apocalyptic story recently fell into public domain – allowing you to watch it for free!
17) Shaun of the Dead, 2004
Who said the apocalypse had to be all doom and gloom?
The first of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s hallowed ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, Shaun of the Dead is a scary and hilarious mixture of romance, comedy and zombies (yep – it’s a rom-zom-com). The film’s protagonist, Shaun, finds himself struggling to balance his love life, best friend, family and career – when a bigger, zombie-shaped problem begins to loom on the horizon. In true British style, he seeks refuge in the safest place he knows: the pub.
Personal favourite scene: the film’s titular character beating the living crap out of a zombie with a pool cue, to the sound of Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’.
18) The World’s End, 2013
The World’s End rounds up the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ (film #2 is the awesome-but-not-apocalypse-related Hot Fuzz), and like Shaun of the Dead, most of the action takes place in British pubs and bars.
The film follows a group of childhood friends, now grown-up, and attempting to recapture their glory days with a pub-crawl to end all pub-crawls. Unfortunately, the story unfolds in an all-too-literal way, as an alien invasion forces the drunken anti-heroes to try and defend all of humanity. Things do not go… all together well.
19) Zombieland, 2009
Zombieland is another take on the zombie-comedy genre, featuring a killer cast (including the awesome Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone) battling their way through post-apocalyptic America.
Facing hordes of zombies (courtesy of a nasty strain of mad cow disease), the film’s protagonists use any and all weapons at their disposal to make it to their end goal: whether that’s finding love, reaching a creepy-as-hell amusement park, or in one case, looking for the world’s last Twinkie.
Semi-spoiler alert: there’s a hilarious, hilarious cameo from Bill Murray. Like, funny enough to warrant watching the film just for his scenes.
20) This Is the End, 2013
It’s a classic story: you’re hanging out in your mansion with your millionaire celebrity friends, when you realise you’ve run out of cigarettes. En route to the convenience store, the rapture happens, turning your entire neighbourhood into an apocalyptic battleground between the forces of good and evil.
This is the End provides a deeply satisfying answer to a question I never even knew I had: what would happen to a band of comedic actors (and Emma Watson) in the event of the apocalypse? Exorcism, cannibalism, murder, and a whole heap of laughs.
21) World War Z, 2013
World War Z is a big screen adaptation of Max Brook’s killer pseudo-documentary novel of the same name (and #49 in our list of the 50 best post-apocalyptic books).
The film follows Gerry Lane, a retired United Nations investigator (played by Brad Pitt), as he tries to track down the source of zombie outbreak that’s engulfing the world’s countries at a terrifying pace. Though a pretty big departure from Max Brook’s source material, World War Z succeeds at being an exciting big-budget Hollywood take on the classic zombie apocalypse scenario.
22) WALL-E, 2008
It’s the year 2805, and Earth as we know it has been destroyed: buried under billions of tons of garbage. The planet’s sole inhabitant is an artificially intelligent robot, tasked with reviving the stricken planet and restoring it to its former glory.
Sounds terrifying, right? Well, maybe not: Wall-E is an animated family film, created by the same folks responsible for Finding Nemo. And though it isn’t a particularly dark, depressing or scary take on the post-apocalypse, it does paint a pretty compelling picture of the damage humanity can do to the planet – and the price we’d have to pay as a result. If you want a break from edge-of-seat thrillers and hiding-behind-the-sofa scare flicks, Wall-E is well worth a watch.
23) Threads, 1984
Hollywood doesn’t have a monopoly on post-apocalyptic movies. Our next entry, Threads, is a BBC-produced film from 1984 – and despite being shot on a meagre budget of just £250,000, it manages to offer one of the most brutally realistic depictions of life after nuclear Armageddon.
The film follows two families as conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact escalates to fever pitch: and then charts the tragedies and horrors that befall them in the aftermath of a nuclear exchange. To quote one reviewer, Threads is:
“[the] film which comes closest to representing the full horror of nuclear war and its aftermath, as well as the catastrophic impact that the event would have on human culture“
24) 28 Days Later, 2002
Remember the whole ‘waking up in a hospital bed’ thing from the first episode of The Walking Dead? You have the British film 28 Days Later to thank for that trope.
After genetic experiments get seriously out of hand , a deadly virus (known as Rage for reasons that become… very apparent) is let loose upon the population. A month later and the film’s protagonist wakes up in a hospital in the centre of London, and finds himself forced to battle his way through the zombie-infested city in search of a fabled safe zone: a military checkpoint several hundred miles away.
28 Days Later is my personal favourite post-apocalyptic movie: packed-full of suspense, action, and some surprisingly profound cultural commentary. It also has zombies.
25) 28 Weeks Later, 2007
28 Weeks Later picks up six months after the Rage epidemic left off, as NATO forces struggle to carve out a safe zone in the heart of post apocalyptic London. Gradually, refugees are reintroduced to their homeland, but one of those refugees carries a deadly secret with them. Soon, London’s “safe zone” doesn’t look so safe.
26) The Postman, 1997
After ‘The Doomwar’ destroys almost all of the world’s technology, the USA is plunged into a second dark age. Small communities form in the ashes of society, but constantly preyed upon by marauding survivalists, and without a way to communicate with neighbouring settlements, society’s fledgling progress finds itself stunted.
Enter the film’s protagonist: a man who stumbles upon the decayed body of a pre-war postman, and begins to assume his identity: first for personal gain, and eventually, for the good of civilisation.
The film is based upon David Brin’s classic novel The Postman (#38 in our list of the 50 best post apocalyptic books), and contains the type of crazy plot twist you’d expect from a science-fiction author. Though the film didn’t live up to the high standards of the book, it’s still a must-watch for any die-hard fan of post apocalyptic movies (and if you think Kevin Costner and the apocalypse is a winning combination, it might be worth checking out Waterworld: another sprawling, post-apocalyptic epic that reached a little too far).
27) Waterworld, 1995
Kevin Costner had a really bad run in the 90’s – almost ruinously bad – but for some reason, both of the films responsible are decidedly… good.
It seems fitting that two post apocalyptic movies would be responsible for ending the career of Costner, and we probably have the slow-paced epic The Postman and the huge budget overreach of Waterworld to thank for delaying the cause of post apocalyptic fiction but a decade.
Waterworld in particular was the (then) most expensive film ever made – and though the story of melted ice caps and roving bands of pirates never quite lived up to the hype, it’s still a must-watch for any fans of the genre.
28) Planet of the Apes, 1968
When a lone astronaut crash lands on an alien planet, he hopes to find survivors of a previous expedition to the surface: but instead, he finds himself captured by a terrifying race of sentient beings. In one of the most famous stories ever told in a post apocalyptic movie, the astronaut discovers that humanity has been enslaved by a civilisation of intelligent apes – and that getting home might be harder than he’d hoped.
The phenomenal success of The Planet of the Apes birthed an armada of sequels and reboots, and there’s life yet in the franchise. Most recently, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes explored the origin of the film’s super-intelligent apes, with a sequel released in 2014 (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and an upcoming film (War for the Planet of the Apes) slated for a 2017 release date.
29) Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 2011
Gritty reboots seem to be the defining trend of 2000’s cinema, so it seems fitting that the now slightly camp, outdated Planet of the Apes series should have new life breathed into it.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the series’ origin story, and follows a scientist’s attempts to cure Alzheimer’s diseases. While testing the drug on, you guessed it, chimpanzees, one of the subjects escapes on a violent rampage. The scientist (played by James Franco) takes it upon himself to raise the chimp’s orphaned offspring – a chimpanzee with seemingly human levels of intelligence.
30) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 2014
At the risk of ruining the conclusion of the last film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes follows a horde of super-intelligent apes on their journey to reclaim their world – after a bout of Simian Flu has destroyed over 99% of the world’s human population.
The film follows Caesar, the series’ protagonist and now leader of a tribe of apes, as he strives to set up a safe-haven for himself and the other chimpanzees – running into direct conflict with the remnants of humanity in the process.
31) War of the Planet of the Apes, 2017
The next film in the series is scheduled for release in July of this year, and is set to follow the events of an all-out war between man- and ape-kind. Despite Caesar’s best intentions, it shows the ape wrestling with their deeper, darker urges – their need for revenge against the race that enslaved them.
32) Logan’s Run, 1976
In the 2274, humanity is banded together in a sealed city, clustered beneath a giant structure of geodesic domes, and overseen entirely by a super-intelligent computer. The computer dictates every aspect of humanity’s existence, from life to, at the age of 30, death.
Logan’s Run follows one resident as he nears the end of his life clock, and his escape from the dystopian world (and its militarised police force, the Sandmen) into the overgrown wilderness of post apocalyptic Washington.
33) Escape from New York, 1981
Modern-day Manhattan’s crime problem doesn’t look so bad when compared to the New York of John Carpenter’s classic film.
With the country’s crime levels spiralling out of control, the entire island of Manhattan has been converted into a maximum security prison. After the crash of Airforce One into the heart of the prison island, ex-solider Snake Plissken (played by Kurt Russell) is given 24 hours to find and rescue the president from the clutches of the islands criminal residents.
34) Terminator Salvation, 2009
I straight-up love The Terminator films, but despite my urge to include Terminator 2 on every film roundup ever made, Salvation is the only film to make the grade. Though the threat of total global annihilation hangs over the entire franchise, it’s only in the most recent film that we get to fully indulge in the post apocalypse.
The film follows John Connor (played by Christian Bale) as he leads the resistance against Skynet’s horde of armored, sentient machines – and its greatest weapon yet: the T-800, made famous by the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger.
35) The Matrix, 1999
At some point in the distant past of the The Matrix universe, mankind achieved a monumental milestone: the creation of true artificial intelligence. Unfortunately (as tends to be the case in the post-apocalyptic genre), things get slightly out of hand; eventually forcing mankind to take extreme measures to combat the sentient machines, and destroy their source of power: the sun. As one of the film’s main characters, Morpheus, states:
“We don’t know who struck first, us or them. But we do know it was us that scorched the sky.“
Packed full of mind-blowing action and a whole ton of killer plot twists, The Matrix is a phenomenal post-apocalyptic film.
36) The Matrix Reloaded, 2003
Featuring fast cars and huge French chateaus, The Matrix Reloaded feels like indulgent bourgeois counterpart to the film noir world of its predecessor.
Packed full of even more mind-blowing action than the first film, Reloaded follows Neo, Morpheus and Trinity in their journey through the distorted reality of The Matrix, and the crew of the hovercraft Logos in their battle through the desolate, perilous “real world” outside.
37) The Matrix Revolutions, 2003
Revolutions was the third and final piece in the Wachowski’s sentient puzzle, and takes place almost entirely in the “real world” of the Matrix – a scorched wasteland of grim towers and murderous machines.
Ripe with biblical analogy, and for many people, a step too far in the franchise, The Matrix Revolutions is nonetheless an epic conclusion to the trilogy.
38) Equilibrium, 2002
Equilibrium has everything a great dystopian film needs: a secret police force of heavily armed, unwaveringly loyal soldiers; a post apocalyptic world, destroyed by World War III; and a required regimen of emotion-suppressing narcotics.
But when an enforcement offer (played by Christian Bale) accidentally forgoes a dose, he begins to question the morality of his actions – leading him into the hands of a small force of resistance fighters.
39) Stake Land, 2010
Stake Land starts with a familiar premise: the US has been ravaged by economic and political strife, and the country’s residence find themselves struggling to survive. From the frying pan, the film’s characters stagger into a roaring inferno as things take a turn for the apocalyptic as a vampire epidemic sweeps across the nation.
From there, it’s up to teenager Martin, and his vampire-hunting mentor Mister, to carve out a safe piece of farmland for themselves from the vampire-infested country that they once called home.
40) Reign of Fire, 2002
Reign of Fire is about as close to classic, Medieval-styled fantasy as post apocalyptic movies tend to get.
In the year 2000, British workers were tunnelling through the London underground when they stumbled upon a forgotten piece of England’s past: dragons. With humanity’s nemesis reawakened, it falls to a small band of survivors to systematically hunt down and destroy the beasts.
41) Delicatessen, 1991
At the end of the world, good food is hard to come by – even when you’re in living in the once heart of fine dining, France.
Delicatessen tells the surreal story of a French apartment block, and their resident butcher’s skill for sourcing fine, fresh meat. When their latest superintendent moves into the building, a former circus town, the origin of the meat is called into question – with dark, strangely humorous consequences.
42) Stalker, 1979
Roadside Picnic is one of my favourite post apocalyptic books of all-time, combining Chernobyl-inspired fear of radiation, alien lifeforms and ruthless scavengers known as Stalkers. The 1979 film by the same name is inspired by the classic novel, with its screenplay written by the book’s authors, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
The film follows an expedition composed of a writer, seeking inspiration, a scientist, keen for discovery, and their guide, a Stalker, into the irradiated, seemingly sentient area known as The Zone.
43) Dawn of the Dead, 1978
George A Romero’s cult classic Dawn of the Dead was one of the first zombie films to really garner attention, and with good reason: it combines a catastrophic zombie apocalypse with genuinely interesting characters, and subtle social commentary that captures the Zeitgeist of America during the turbulent 1970’s.
Though a sequel to the equally awesome Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead makes the cut courtesy of the sheer number of post-apocalyptic clichés the film birthed: from the whole ‘seeking shelter from the apocalypse in a shopping mall’ concept to the insane levels of gross-out gore found throughout The Walking Dead.
If the classic 1978 film doesn’t appeal (it really should), there’s a decent 2004 remake: and a whole ton of sequels, spin-off’s and homages.
44) Day of the Dead, 1985
Day of the Dead is the third of George A Romero’s Dead series, and follows a band of scientists, soldiers and survivors, isolated in the Florida Everglades, as they try to unravel the mystery of the zombie epidemic. Unfortunately, as so often happens in these situations, zombie experimentation goes awry, and very quickly, the group of survivors turn on each other.
Day of the Dead received also a reboot in 2008, so if you struggle with older production values, you can still enjoy some classic, Romero-inspired horror.
45) Dawn of the Dead, 2004
While we’re on the topic of reboots, Dawn of the Dead’s 2004 reanimation is a particularly great example of modern, post apocalyptic zombie fiction.
Following the same plot as the original, the film brings updated graphics, makeup and cinematography to bear on arguably the most famous post apocalyptic movie ever made, creating some of the most gruesome, grisly and unmissable scenes in all cinema.
46) On the Beach, 1959
Set during the golden age of post-apocalyptic fiction, On the Beach tells the story of a handful of survivors waiting for the end, in the aftermath of a global nuclear exchange. With only Australia spared from the conflict, the inhabitants of a small coastal town and the occupants of an offshore submarine band together to wait out the end of days – and an oncoming deluge of lethal radiation.
Based on Nevil Shute’s classic novel of the same name (and #19 in our round-up of the 50 best post-apocalyptic books), On the Beach contains an all-star cast including Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire, and offers the kind of powerful, deeply evocative story-telling that really captures the desperation and isolation of the apocalypse’s few remaining survivors.
47) The Book of Eli, 2010
In The Book of Eli, Denzel Washington plays a lone drifter, wandering his way across the violent wastes of post-apocalyptic America.
As a skilled hunter, the film’s protagonist eventually draws the attention of a gang of violent mobsters, hell-bent on soliciting his fighting skills – and the small book that never leaves his side.
Combining the bleak violence of a destroyed world with the fundamental human goodness of a handful of characters, The Book of Eli is a profound, engrossing and downright awesome post-apocalyptic film.
48) 12 Monkeys, 1995
It’s the year 2035: and in the aftermath of a lethal virus wiping out 5 million of the Earth’s inhabitants, humanity’s last remaining survivors are forced to live underground. In a desperate attempt to restore humanity, a convict volunteers to be sent back to the past, to identify, study and eradicate the virus before it obliterates mankind.
Directed by Terry Gilliam (renowned director of Monty Python, Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas fame), and starring the likes of Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, 12 Monkeys is a weird and wonderful take on the post-apocalypse – and though somewhat overlooked by history, it’s a must-watch for fans of the genre.
49) Blindness, 2008
Blindness follows the inhabitants of an unnamed city, ravaged by a complete and instantaneous bout of blindness. Within hours of the catastrophe, society has ground to a halt, with criminal gangs striking to seize control and prey upon the weak.
The novel Blindness is based upon was written by Jose Saramago – winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (and #4 in our round-up of the 50 greatest post-apocalyptic books). As you might expect, the story is a beautifully crafted narrative that intertwines raw human emotion with layers of cultural commentary and insightful analysis.
Though the film adaptation doesn’t live up to the heady heights of the the novel, Blindness is still a stellar look at life during the breakdown of society.
50) Soylent Green, 1973
In 2022 (so we’ve only got a couple of years folks!) the Earth is hugely overpopulated, and smothered by catastrophic pollution as a result. Tasked with the mammoth job of keeping humanity fed is Soylent Industries: relying on the ocean’s plankton to keep mankind satiated.
In the midst of a murder investigation, Detective Thorn (played by none other than Charlton Heston) stumbles upon Soylent’s dark secret: and the world’s continued existence is called into question.