With the DVD release of The Road, I figured now would be a good time to talk about my top 5 favorite post-apocalyptic films.
5. Planet of the Apes (1968)
From the opening crash landing to the twist ending, this movie plays like a two hour Twilight Zone episode. If you haven't seen this classic, (and no, not the mediocre Mark Wahlberg remake) go rent it. Charlton Heston is great and the makeup was revolutionary for the time.
4. A Boy and His Dog (1974)
The story of a young man and his telepathic dog companion searching for food and women in a post-apocalyptic world may not sound like a great premise but it's remarkably better than it sounds. The key to the films greatness is the relationship between Vic (the boy) and Blood (the dog). The writing is sharp and humorous as the two companions, who rely on each other to survive, are constantly bickering and arguing over nonsense. However, the film's dark humor truly shines with the ridiculous twist ending that will probably have you smiling.
3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
And no, not the mediocre Zack Snyder remake. George A. Romero's classic takes the awful situation he started with Night of the Living Dead and makes it so much worse. The zombies have grown in numbers, hope is pretty much lost, and a shopping mall is the only thing standing between our new band of survivors and becoming a symbol of American consumerism. Oh, and don't forget the gore. This is probably one of the goriest horror films ever made and Romero continued the trend with the sequel, Day of the Dead (1985). Let's just not talk about the remake of "Day".
2. The Road (2009)
It doesn't get much more post-apocalyptic than this. Viggo Mortenson plays a father trying to protect his child born into a post-apocalyptic world from gangs of cannibals. The man and his boy, constantly on the verge of starvation and death, struggle to survive as the boy constantly wants to help others they encounter. The performances are extraordinary and the film is filled with many powerful moments. The duo attempt to maintain the role as the "good guys" even when cast into morally objectionable situations. I read the book before I saw the film and enjoyed the film more. The Road's author, Cormac Mccarthy, paints a picture of the Earth's new, bleak landscape. It's captured perfectly on film. Mccarthy's characters look and speak as I imagined them and many scenes from the book were simply better in motion.
1.5 28 Days Later (2002)
I can't believe I forgot this film. My favorite horror film ever is not really post-apocalyptic since Britain is the only part of the world affected by the zombie outbreak, but those opening scenes of Jim walking around London are so powerful that it deserves a spot on this list. Danny Boyle single-handedly rebooted the zombie sub-genre with this film. This was probably the first time we saw fast zombies which are now common in today's video games and cinema. Just don't listen to anyone who says the people infected with the rage virus aren't really zombies. It's the same formula.
1. Stalker (1979)
Well, it may not technically be post-apocalyptic but it certainly feels like it is. Andrei Tarkovsky's greatest, yet, lesser known science fiction film tells the story of a group of three men traveling into the heart of a mysterious area known as "the zone" that has been blocked off by the government. At the center of "the zone" a man's deepest wishes are said to come true. Stalker, the leader of the group navigates the zone which is supposedly filled with many dangers. The film is used by Tarkovsky to fully explore the many philosophical ideas first brought up by Solaris. In addition, like Solaris, the ending is used to cast everything you thought you knew about the film into doubt. This is one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time and one of my all around favorite films.