My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movies of the 1990’s…

The 90’s…. it was only a decade prior to this one that I was just a kid.  Now I was a soldier, a combat veteran, a college graduate, a husband (well, for a year anyway – Gads, what an utter slut!), and working man.  Didn’t stop my inner nerd from enjoying that which I enjoyed most… post-apocalypse movies!!!

The 90’s were known for being the decade in which we moved from practical effects to full-blown CG.  It was amazing how things changed in just ten years!

As always, click the poster to watch a trailer, clip, or full movie.

 

12 Monkeys – Based on a 1962 French independent film called La Jetée, 12 Monkeys was directed by Terry Gilliam.  This is without a doubt, one of my favorite PA movies of all time.  For those who did Terry Gilliam, this is a masterpiece.  For those who may not dig Brad Pitt, this (as well as his role in Se7en) is my favorite role.  He is simply superb.

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Delikatessen – A French film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (he’s also known for City of Lost Children and Alien: Resurrection… two films I happen to enjoy even though it seems everyone else does not).  Starring Dominique Pinon (Jeunet likes to use him in most of his films), the movie takes place at some point in time that is fairly vague.  It is in an obvious post-apoc setting (most likely nuclear war).  The movie takes place almost exclusively within a hotel and is character driven.  I highly recommend this one…

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Escape From L.A. – Ahhh… Snake Plissken is back!  Like its predecessor, this isn’t necessarily postapoc, but rather dystopian.  You’ll either hate it or love it.  I love it.  The original script had been written by Coleman Luck and John Carpenter thought it was too campy, but Kurt Russell pressed him to make the film.  I’m glad he did.

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Fist of the North Star – Sorta, kinda, a little bit based on the manga, the 1995 film was direct to video and when one watches it, one can see why.  That being said, the atmosphere of the movie is just very cool even if the acting isn’t…

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Hardware – This one has become a cult classic and if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.  The soundtrack alone is worth it.  There are a couple of cool cameos, Iggy Pop, Lemmy (R.I.P.), and William Hootkins (remember him?  he played Porkins in the original Star Wars film).  Hootkins’ character (Lincoln) is deliciously creepy, as is most of the film.

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The Matrix – I don’t really have to say much about this one, do I?  Is there a person on this planet who hasn’t seen it?  I won’t be talking about the 2nd and 3rd films as the first one is the only one I really enjoyed.  It was new, it was fresh, it was freaking awesome!

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Mindwarp – Now, this one here… this one might not be so well-known.  Starring Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm (those two actors oughta catch your attention!), it was one of the few films produced by Fangoria Films (so you know it was good and gory).

The world has fallen to nuclear war.  Cannibalistic mutants thrive on the surface while those who were lucky enough to get underground, spend their time jacked into The System and living their lives in a virtual reality paradise.

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Neon City – Starring Michael Ironside, how could this suck!  Ironside is an ex-cop turned bounty hunter.  The world has been laid waste by ecological disasters and there are often “Brights” (some kind of sun flare that kills people) and Xander Clouds (some kind of cloud that kills people).

Don’t let that fool you, it’s actually really good…

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Omega Doom – This one right here…. this is one of my absolute favorite postapoc flicks of all time.  Don’t ask me to explain why… the acting sucks, the effects suck… there’s just something about it.  Definitely one of those “so bad it’s good” flicks.

Starring Rutger Hauer (that’s probably a large part of its appeal), and…. well, that’s about it.  Oh yes, it also stars Anna Katarina and apparently she’s kind of famous, so…

Omega Doom is simply a re-telling of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.  A “man with no name” tale that we’ve seen many times before… except this time, it’s after a nuclear apocalypse and the characters are androids.  Tempted?  Damned straight!

I liked this movie so much, I wrote a blog post specifically about it.  You can find that here if you’re so inclined.

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The Postman – Loosely based on The Postman by David Brin, this movie holds a special place in my memory as I was living where it was filmed at the time.  From what I understand, Brin had some concern as he didn’t want the film to be too “Mad Max’ish” and wanted to make sure the character retained his soul.  I’d say it was a success.

The movie is just wonderful and the message of hope portrayed is palpable.

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The Postman: The Movie and the Book


Robot Jox – Giant fighting robots after a nuclear war.  Need I say more?

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Six-String Samurai – Man… how do I even describe this thing?  A katana-wielding, Buddy Holly’esque road warrior?

Yeah, that’ll do nicely…

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Split Second – Like Escape From New York and it’s sequal, Split Second is not really postapoc, but rather dystopian in theme.  London is flooded and sitting under a couple feet of water.  Hauer plays a burnt-out cop who discovers a sequence of murders that strike a nerve.  Hauer’s performance is worth the admission price alone. Lots of good actors in this one.  I highly recommend it…

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The Stand – I first read The Stand in 1990, while serving with 1st Squadron, 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment during Desert Storm.  Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not a fan of Stephen King… wait, let me rephrase that – I used to be, but no longer… ever since the late 90’s.  I’m not going to go into the reasons here as to why I’m no longer a fan.  If you wanna know, shoot me an email or ask me on Twitter.

Needless to say, I loved the screen adaptation and I’m fairly certain I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t…

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Tank Girl – Oh man… another one which folks either love or totally hate.  I love it.  There isn’t anything I don’t enjoy about this flick.  I mean, it’s got Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, and Malcom McDowell?  C’mon!!!

It tries to capture the comic, but if you take it for what it’s worth, I bet you’ll enjoy it too…

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Waterworld – Jeez… the hatred and vitriol that followed this movie – it was not deserving of such negativity.  Did it have its production problems?  Of course it did.  Did that affect the storytelling or visuals?  Absolutely not, IMNSHO.

Yet another love/hate flick.  And yet another one in which you can count me in the “love” camp.  This is simply pure, wonderful, fun, fantasy postapoc fiction.  If you keep trying to insert reality into it, no wonder you hate it…

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Mad Max, Death, and Justice … Guest blog from Asher.

I was recently contacted by a fella… a quick fella… who altered my perspective on both art and the way Mad Max (Fury Road specifically) can be interpreted.
First off, let me tell you who this guy is… he is an artist that goes by the name of Asher – he “translates discarded tech into artistic pieces.”  His work is simply amazing and I’ve often said that although I have really no idea how to describe it, I love it.  A super cool blending of goth, cyberpunk, horror and abandonded tech… Please take a moment to check out his website.
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We follow each other on twitter and out of the blue, he asked if I would mind reading his thoughts on Mad Max.  Of course I said “Yes!”, and after reading his words, I immediately told him that this material HAS to be shared with the postapoc  community.  I asked him if he had a blog, to which he replied “No”, so I asked if I could possibly share his thoughts on mine.  I’m glad he said “yes”.
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So with no further ado… here’s Asher and his thought provoking wordstuff about the tragic lone wanderer of the wasteland, Max Rockatansky…

I think you have to start with Stone and not Max. Miller draws too heavily on that film. Hell, half the Mad Max cast is from Stone including Hugh who keeps coming back as the god-man and gets crucified every time.
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I’m fairly certain Miller has always looked at this in a very large picture sense, kinda like Dune from Herbert. If you take the body of the these Aussie post-apocalyptic films as a societal tale, then you have a very slow moving progression and not just some action flicks tied together.

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Stone sets the stage for a society that is imploding upon itself by greed, inability to change, and children who need to kill their fathers as a rite of passage but clings too hard to the old ways. That clinging is brought back up in every single one of his films too. This is why I’m fairly certain Stone sets that stage and he plays upon it.

MM falls apart because they’re using old laws to govern a new form of human society and the hero is stripped of everything he holds dear because he tried to uphold those laws in spite of everything.

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In MM-RW, they’re clinging to the old form of power still (gas) and again, Max only is victorious when he is the harbinger to destroy that dependence.  We’re more or less told that’s the last bastion of gas production.  Without him, Humongous would have taken the refinery and become a king. 

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In MM and BT, both the Kids cling to the old ways as well as Bartertown. The Kids cling to the HighScrapers and the Rivers of Light.  Bartertown exists because they crave capitalism. Max destroys them both.  And in Fury Road, he finally kills the father and puts to rest that old world. More on that…

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Hugh is in all three flicks representational of the Father but he’s also fully aware of Death waiting for him. It’s evident in the script, the actions, and the costumes (in Miller’s pieces). That also puzzles me as to how it’s missed. He didn’t have to use this guy again, but here he is and really in FR he’s passed into a mythical realm already.

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Fury Road… Miller had choices here. BIG ones. He had money and backing, so he had free reign on this. And this is the one thing that I am shocked no one picks up on. Look over Homer’s Odyssey… It’s more or less the story of FR. The River of Lethe, Charybdis, the Sirens, etc., etc., etc.  Max has passed into the stuff of mythos now.

My  proof that this is no longer a reality or part of the world Max was from… the steering columns on the cars and trucks – they are on the left side, the US side. Not Oz, hell not even any former Brit colony. That was a very, very conscious choice. He started production in Oz. They built most of the cars in Oz. Yet why the left side drive?  They actually had to import those vehicles to produce that. Far greater expense and load on the production. This, to me, is a keystone or a cypher that he’s used to give us a clue.

Trust me I don’t really give a shit about uncovering most film or books. I’m really ok with face value since that’s usually how it’s to be viewed/read. But it struck me in the theatre how much like the Odyssey FR was. Then, about a month later, I was welding and replaying the flick in my head, the steering columns really hit me hard.

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Miller’s story boards for FR some 20+yrs ago… I think they are now pretty much EXACTLY like the film. He’s calculating and deeply committed to the story – this is not a man out to make a fortune on an action flick. This is a man creating a classic piece of art that just happens to be couched in the guise of an action flick. He’s not without irony, appealing to a base form of entertainment to tell us a deeply insightful tale of humans – pretty much just like Homer.  I may be totally off base and batshit crazy, but I kinda think I’m close to the bone on this one. I’d imagine when Homer sat in a rotunda and made a couple of bucks reciting his next installment for Friday night entertainment, it wasn’t seen as a classic to them. It was just good adventure and fun.

What I find a thing of pure beauty in FR, as well is how we are shown this, is the realm of Ether and humans are but players for the God’s. The scene that did that for me was where Nux was told by Max to “tie to that thing…”,  “You mean the tree?”. Nux had never seen a tree. And here we are in the land of death, on the edge of the river Lethe, using the tree of life to run from Death/Justice.
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I seriously was just stunned when I saw that.  Max shoots out the eyes of Death/Justice and now it’s blind as it needs to be to exact it’s purpose.
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This is story telling at it’s most epic and sublime. Don’t get me wrong I loved Miller and the Max franchise before. But at this moment he passed to the level of praise and respect very few will ever see from me.
I’m rarely impressed, but Miller has left me kind of speechless. I just hope he lives long enough to finish it.
Because it’s going to be fucking epic when it’s completed.

You can find Asher on Twitter and his website, where he uses flame and steel to create something from nothing.  Please take a moment to visit, I assure you won’t be disappointed!

 

Slipstream… it doesn’t suck nearly as much as you might think.

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First off, I want to thank Barry P. of Cinematic Catharsis for asking me to join the Nature’s Fury Blogathon!  The subject matter this go ’round is Nature vs. Mankind.  In the words of Barry P., “…this is a blogathon about our eternal struggle with flora, fauna, and the elements.

I decided to go with a film that has a bit of a fan following… 1989’s Slipstream.

Maybe not a “cult classic”, (you know what, screw it… it IS a cult classic!) but there are those of us who actually really dig it.  It pits man against good old planet Earth and let me tell you… she is PISSED!!!


Oh, and hey… I’ve never participated in something like this before, so be gentle with me… it’s my first time. 😉

Alright then, let’s get to the movie!


From the depths of the Earth.

To the edge of existence.

The hunt is on…

 

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By the end of the century, man’s destruction of the Earth’s environment turned the forces of nature upon him.  There are many stories about the converging earthquakes that split continents apart – mixing civilizations together… about the floods that buried the cities and the emergence of a river of wind called the Slipstream that washed the planet clean.  Those stories all happened years ago, but this story is about a fugitive, traveling the Slipstream, who needed a friend.


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 First off, Slipstream was blasted by critics and generally despised upon its release.

 Why do I tell you that from the get-go? Because for me it was one of those movies that, after you watch it, you say to yourself – “Why did everyone hate this thing so much?”

To which I reply… “I dunno… it’s really kind of awesome.”


Slipstream is a post-apocalypse movie, or perhaps more specifically, a post-cataclysm movie.  Sometime in the future (we’re not told when), the Earth decides to rebel against mankind’s abuse and issues forth great calamities… earthquakes, floods, etc.

These events became known as The Convergence.  The Earth cracked and continents shifted.  Mountains rose and fell, oceans drained and flooded areas that had never seen water.  Cities were buried.   Our way of life was forever altered.

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Life goes on and people once again established communities.  People found residence within cave-ridden canyon walls.   They now shared their new home with others who were at one time thousands of miles away.

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The only real mode of transportation anymore is flight.  A massive river of air, aptly named the Slipstream, circles the globe and is used by folks to get from point A to point B.  You can often see scratch-built airplanes and hot air balloons overhead.


 

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Our story begins with a law enforcement officer (or what passes for one in this primitive landscape), Will Tasker (Mark Hamill) and his partner Belitski (Kitty Aldridge), hunting down an escaped murder, Byron (Bob Peck).  He is quickly captured and taken to a nearby settlement where we are introduced to Matt (Bill Paxton), a free-spirited bounty hunter.  Matt sees an opportunity to make some quick cash and makes off with Byron to claim the bounty as his own.  Tasker and Belitski soon give chase and the adventures ensue.  The group ends up battling the elements at every turn, getting caught… escaping… running into a religious cult that worships the wind as though it is some kind of God… and finding a sanctuary of lost art and knowledge.

Yes, there is most definitely a story here.  Each character is on a mission…

 

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Matt… the young, headstrong, free-spirited bounty hunter who knows there is more to life than what he’s been dealt, but lacks the maturity to fully realize it.  His is a tale of growth.

 

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Byron… the man who wants nothing more than to dream and find others of his kind.  Although considered a murderer, his is a confusing tale and may well be worth the admission price alone.

 

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Tasker… Living life by the book and bringing justice to the wasteland of the old world.  Almost Max Rockatansky’esque,  he will use any means necessary to capture his prey.  There are no grey areas with him, only black and white.

 

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Belitski… She tags along with Tasker, but things aren’t so cut and dry with her.  Secretly she hopes for something better.  By the end of the film, you find out if she finds it.

 


 

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The film was produced by Gary Kurtz and directed by Steven Lisberger (who also directed TRON).   Kurtz was, at one time, the second half of the George Lucas team… producing both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.  Kurtz and Lucas split before Return of the Jedi and Kurtz went on to produce The Dark Crystal.

Hoping that Slipstream would be his “Star Wars”,  for one reason or another the film ultimately failed and ended up bankrupting Kurtz.


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Made in 1989, it wouldn’t be until 1992 that I would finally get to see this.  I went into a Blockbusters (remember those?) and saw it sitting amongst the other “straight to video” SciFi movies.

To be honest, I thought it was just pretty good;  until right about 15 minutes into it.

There was a song – more particularly, This Big Area by Then Jericho.  To understand why it affected me so much, we’d have to got back a couple of years and spend some time in a hot and dry part of the world full of nothing but sand, blood, and fear.

At the time, I was stationed in Germany.  A couple of days before we left for Iraq, I went to the PX and tried to think of any last-minute items I wanted to grab.  On a whim, I found an album by a group I’d never heard of to provide companionship to my Planet P Project, DEVO, and Rocky Horror Show soundtrack.

I took a chance and loved it!  That was one of four albums I took with me to the desert.  When I heard their music in this film,  I became flooded with nostalgia.  To this day, when I hear that music, it takes me right back to 1991.


The acting is damned good – as well it should be, considering the names involved… Mark Hamill, Bill Paxton, Kitty Aldridge, Bob Peck, Robbie Coltrane, Ben Kingsley, and F. Murray Abraham.

I mean, c’mon… look at Hamill for instance… what a badass!  Bob Peck is simply incredible.  Paxton is… well, Paxton, and Coltrane… I bet you’d hardly recognize him.

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So , maybe you’ve asked yourself at some point “Why should I bother with this thing”… or “I’ve seen it, it sucked… why should I watch it again?”

To which I’d reply, there’s a story here… there’s more than one in fact.  Forget the special effects… each and every character has a story and a damned good one at that.

From a young hothead looking for a quick buck to finance his dream… to a cop who is trying to make the world a better place by following the word rather than the spirit of the law… to an android who wants nothing more than to be with his own kind… to a woman who doesn’t really know what she wants until she see’s it right in front of her…

Yes, there is more to this movie than what meets the eye.  If you’ve never seen it, try it out.  If you’ve already watched it, give it another chance… it might not suck nearly as much as you thought…

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But wait!  There’s more!  As a special added bonus… here is a video of the making of Slipstream.  Enjoy!

 

 

My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movies of the 1980’s – Part 2…

Here it is… Part 2 of my Favorite Post-Apocalypse Films of the 1980’s.  Its taken me quite some time to cull the herd down to these ones.  A warning… some of these are considered terrible – but that’s their charm.  Hell, most folks think most of these suck.  That’s ok.  I thought Guardians of the Galaxy sucked.  See how that works?

Don’t forget that just because these are my favorites, that doesn’t mean they are the best.  It also doesn’t mean this is a list of all of the postapoc movies out there – these are just the ones I enjoy and have been able to watch more than once. 😉

Don’t forget to click the movie poster to see the film, trailer, or scene.

 

Endgame – The Running Man meets 1984… In the year 2025, a nuclear holocaust has left New York City an irradiated, but not abandoned, wasteland. The ruined city is inhabited now by scavenger packs and telepathic mutants, who are persecuted by the elite survivors. Keeping the people happy is the reality television program Endgame, where hunters and gladiators fight to the death…

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Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome –  The third installment in the original trilogy.  Often cursed by fans, I thought it was brilliant.  We get to see a slightly lighter side of the wasteland and watching Max come to grips with his humanity is wonderful…

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Miracle Mile – I owned the soundtrack to this before I ever saw the movie. I was a huge Tangerine Dream fan and got my hands on every album of their’s I could.  When I finally watched the movie, back in the late 80’s, I absolutely fell in love with it.  I’ve seldom run into folks who’ve even heard of it, but after seeing it, they tend to love it as well.  It’s a bit tense and you may feel tired at the end.  Please, please, check this one out…

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Night of the Comet – Can you believe I watched this in my English class back in high school, 1987?  I don’t recall in what context we watched it, but it was PA and it was friggin’ awesome!!!  The tail of a passing comet engulfs the world and those it doesn’t kill outright, become changed to “zombies”.  Apparently only those who were protected by some kind of metal structure were saved from this fate – enter our two sisters and a couple of fellas making their way through this nightmare.  This one is a fantastic example of 80’s nostalgia…

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Slipstream – The Earth has finally succumbed to an unknown ecological disaster simply known as “The Convergence”.  The landscape and weather has changed.  The “slipstream” has become the main mode of transportation in this changed landscape.   Producer/director Gary Kurtz (remember him?  He had a hand in a couple little-known films called Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back) had hoped that this would be his meal ticket.  Unfortunately, it drove him into bankruptcy due to it being a considerable flop – something I don’t quite understand as I feel it is a fantastic film full of some incredible actors ( Robbie Coltrane, Ben Kingsley and F. Murray Abraham)… Oh well, such is life.  It’s got Mark Hamill as a baddass and Bill Paxton as a whiny…. well, a whiny Bill Paxton…

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Steel Dawn – Patrick Swayze is “the desert warrior.  Carving the future with his sword“.  Yeah… Swayze plays a character simply called “Nomad”, traveling the wastes and coming to be in the employ of a woman and her foreman, Tark (played by the late Brion James).  Nomad is haunted by his past as well as hunted by an assassin called Sho (Christopher Neame – fans of Babylon 5 might recognize that name).  Lots of swordfighting in this one…

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Stryker – “The last war began in error.  Who’s error, nobody knows, nor does it matter anymore.  Nothing matters now other than survival.  The nuclear holocaust wiped out all semblance of rhyme or reason.  Cities obliterated, farmlands devastated.  The ecology imbalanced and all that is left is a parched and arid wasteland, a scorched and seething Earth where what little water there is, is hoarded and kept under heavy guard.  For water is power and whoever controls the  water… controls the world.

Sounds awesome, huh?  Check it out…

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2019: After the Fall of New York – In 2019 the world is devastated by an infection that prevents men from procreating. A group of survivors find that in New York there is a community of humans who for some reason has remained immune to contamination. The soldier Parsifal is sent on a reconnaissance mission to save the entire human race…

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Testament – Along the same lines as The Day After, Roger Ebert said… “The film is about a suburban American family, and what happens to that family after a nuclear war. It is not a science-fiction movie, and it doesn’t have any special effects, and there are no big scenes of buildings blowing over or people disintegrating. We never even see a mushroom cloud. We never even know who started the war. Instead, “Testament” is a tragedy about manners: It asks how we might act toward one another, how our values might stand up, in the face of an overwhelming catastrophe.”…

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Threads –  This film was notable in being the first of its kind to depict a nuclear winter. Certain reviewers have nominated Threads as 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”…

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Warrior of the Lost World – Yet another 1983 Italian Road Warrior ripoff… these never get old.  For your pleasure, I have found the riffed version from MST3K.  Trust me, it’ll make it worth watching…

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Warriors of the Wasteland – Known as The New Barbarians when initially released in 1983, this is yet another Italian post-apocalyptic ripoff of The Road Warrior.  When will it end?  Apparently not yet…

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And as a special added bonus, here’s Rifftrax doing what they do best with this flick…


Warriors of the Apocalypse – OK… this one is special.  This is without a doubt the most terrible postapoc movie I have ever seen – in fact, it may very well be the worst movie I have ever seen period.  Why is it one of my favorites?  Because it’s got cannibalistic mutant midgets and people shooting frickin’ laser beams out of their eyes.  Seriously, how can you not dig that?!  It’s also very difficult to find.  I purchased the VHS some years ago and have never seen it released on DVD.  If you ever get the chance to watch it, please do… and never speak of it to anyone…

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Warlords of the 21st Century – You guessed it, another ripoff, but this one’s a little different.  For one it was filmed by Americans in New Zealand, and two, it’s actually pretty darned good.  It features John Ratzenberger, so yeah, it doesn’t really suck…

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Wheels of Fire – Oh geez.. another ripoff?  Yep…  Ok, fine, it sucks.  But wait a minute… there is just no way I can do this movie justice.  I found an excellent review that you should read…

Million Monkey Theater Movie Review for Wheels of Fire

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When The Wind Blows – This is a very interesting film from 1986.  Using drawn animation and stop-motion animation, it also features an incredible soundtrack – featuring artists such as David Bowie, Roger Waters, and Genesis.  It is sorta-kinda along the same lines as The Day After and Threads.  I strongly suggest watching this one…

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World Gone Wild – Not as blatant a ripoff as most of the Italian flicks, this one is actually entertaining and one of the better postapoc movies of the 80’s.  It stars real actors such as Bruce Dern and Michael Paré.  The mainstay of pretty much every PA flick is either a lack of gasoline and/or water.  The subject of this one is the latter and deals with a community trying to protect it from an evil cult of renegades (which seems to also be all too popular in these movies).  Anyhoo, check it out.  It ain’t that bad…

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And there you have it – the last, best decade, as far this middle-aged scifi geek is concerned.  Most of the movies during this time were simply cashing in on The Road Warrior… hell, most of ’em were made in 1983, most likely within the span of a few weeks.  But while some were just fun and silly, there were a few that really attempted to scare the crap out of us and tell us just how really shitty a post-apocalyptic future could be.

 I can’t help but wonder though, just how much radiation would it take to mutate me to the point that I’d be able to shoot frickin’ laser beams out of my eyes?

My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movies of the 1980’s – Part 1…

And here we go… the 1980’s!  I loved this decade!!!  The Cold War and threat of nuclear annihilation at any moment…  that mushroom cloud looming in the distance, the big balloon going up, survivalists taking up residence in underground shelters… good times!

Some of my absolute favorite flicks come from this time.  You may have noticed by now that just because a movie is a favorite of mine, it doesn’t mean that it is the best.  There are undoubtedly better movies out there, these just happen to be my favorites.

This list will be comprised of two parts.  This post will be comprised of Part 1.  Part 2 will appear at a future date.

As always, click the movie poster to watch either a trailer or scene from the movie.


The Blood of Heroes… “People no longer remembered the Golden Age of the 20th Century.  They didn’t remember the miraculous technology, or the cruel wars that followed.  They didn’t remember when juggers first played The Game or how it came to be played with a dog skull….

Take a band of wastelanders, dress ’em up in all sorts of old tire remnants, leather straps, and other assorted scavenged armor.  Give ’em chains and sticks and throw ’em in a makeshift dirt arena.  Throw a rock at an old trashcan lid and watch ’em beat the hell out of each other while trying to stick a dog skull on a stick.  That, my friends, is what we call Jugging.  In the wasteland of the future, roaming teams of “Juggers” fight in dogtowns for the chance to make it big.  Getting to the championship arenas that are located in underground cities to fight for the bigwigs who live the life.  Hey, it’s got Rutger Hauer and Vincent D’Onofrio, what more could you ask for?  It was filmed in the area of Australia known as Coober Pedy (you might recognize the name, a number of other films were filmed there such as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Pitch Black).

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Cherry 2000…  A dude’s Cherry 2000 love-bot short-circuits from some shenanigans on a wet kitchen floor.  He enlists the aid of a professional tracker to help him get through “Zone 7”, an area of the wasteland that is fabled to house the lost tech of the past – and more Cherry 2000’s (you see, his ‘bot’s memory was saved on disk and he only has to insert it into another “frame”).

There are a decent amount of movie stars in this one – Melanie Griffith (Edith “E” Johnson), David Andrews (Sam Treadwell), Tim Thomerson (Lester – one of his best parts), Brion James (Stacy – R.I.P.), Laurence “Larry” Fishburne (Glu Glu Lawyer), and Robert Z’Dar as Chet (sadly we lost Robert just this past March, 2015).

The soundtrack was done by Basil Poledouris, but oddly enough Tangerine Dream is featured in the trailer….

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Cyborg…  First there was the collapse of civilization: anarchy, genocide, starvation. Then when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, we got the plague. The Living Death, quickly closing its fist over the entire planet. Then we heard the rumors: that the last scientists were working on a cure that would end the plague and restore the world. Restore it? Why? I like the death! I like the misery! I like this world!”

It’s with these opening lines from the main baddie (Fender Tremolo), that we’re introduced to the world of Cyborg and one more opportunity to see Jean-Claude Van Damme do the splits (seriously, that dude’s got the pelvis of a fourteen-year-old Olympic gymnast).

The world’s taken a turn for the worst and a cyborg needs to get from Point A to Point B in order to procure information that can save the world.  She ends up enlisting the aid of a “Slinger” (Van Damme) and the adventure begins.

Little side note…. one of the actors lost his eye during filming when Jean-Claude got a little sloppy with a prop knife.  Apparently he sued Van Damme and received $487,500.00.

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The Day After…  I remember watching this on TV back in 1983 and it scared the hell out of me.  We even had to watch it in school.  This was a time in my life that I was reading nothing but postapoc pulp novels and seeing something that was done in a realistic way was terrifying.  Where were the mutants?  Where were the raiders?  Where was the lone wanderer?  It was just people becoming flash fried and radiation poisoned.  That was the point, though.  To get people to really think about what nuclear war was like and hopefully prepare for what may happen.

It’s a good flick as well as a cautionary tale about just how horrible a nuclear armageddon might be…

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Le Dernier Combat…  I first came across this while perusing the DVD section of Borders back around 2003.  Seeing that it was done by Luc Besson (a favorite director of mine and it was his first film), along with being postapoc, I threw down the cash before even doing any research as to what it was all about.  It’s filmed in black and white and there are only two words of spoken dialogue through the whole film.  It takes place at some point in the future after some sort of apocalypse (we’re never told what happened) and apparently humankind has been left mute.  “The Man” spends his time scavenging for parts to complete a flying machine and running into “The Brute” (played by Jean Reno).  It’s a fairly simple tale with a nice ending, you should give it a try…

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Def-Con 4…  What an absolutely wonderful movie!  A trio of astronauts stationed aboard a military space station, replete with nuclear missiles, witnesses WWIII unfold below them.  The station is hacked into by a group of military school punks and programmed to crash land.  After landing, one of the astronauts shortly meets a grisly end.  The surviving two, Howe (Tim Choate – who also played Zathras of Babylon 5 fame, God rest his soul) and Jordan (Kate Lynch) are left.  Jordan knocked her noggin and is passed out.  Howe leaves the craft in search of help and runs into Vinny (Maury Chaykin – one of my favorite characters in a postapoc movie).  Jordan is taken captive by the military preppies, as well as Howe and Vinny.  Oh, there’s a nuclear bomb that’s still on the ship and set to go off in about 60 hours…

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Oh, as an extra bonus, here’s the orginal artwork by Angus McKie (1976) that the movie poster was based on…

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Escape From New York…  Not necessarily postapoc, but close to it and certainly 100% baddass.  The year is 1997 and New York has been turned into a maximum security prison.  Air Force One has gone down and the prez needs to get to a peace summit ricky tick.  It’s up to Snake Plissken to get in, get the prez, and get out.  The movie is just full of awesomeness and if you haven’t seen it, under which rock have you been for the past 34 years?

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Exterminators of the Year 3000…  Just one of many Italian Mad Max ripoffs that became so popular in the 80’s, the movie follows the main character,”Alien”, as he battles a motorcycle gang over the most precious commodity in the wasteland – water…

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Hell Comes to Frogtown…  In a radiation-blasted wasteland, Sam Hell (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper) is one of the last fertile males to be found.  He ends up being captured by a group of warrior/nurses and enlisted to help them rescue a group of fertile women who have also been captured – by a mutated band of, well….. frogs….

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In the Aftermath…  “After the Great War, the earth is reduced to an unyielding wasteland, civilization is history, and clean air is the most precious commodity known to man. One soldier’s dreams become a haunting window to the future and his strange and colorful dreams are transformed into a terrifying reality. Among this horrible desolation, one small girl holds the key to the future… a future that may hold little promise.

I first watched this in 1992 while stationed at Ft. Carson, CO while serving in the U.S. Army.  I lost track of the title and virtually every detail (all I could remember were gas masks and a big egg) until I noticed just recently while researching another movie for this list.  Luckily I also found it on youtube and so I naturally watched it again.  Like some others, I can’t really explain why it’s a favorite of mine – it’s actually sort of hard to watch, but there is just something about it.  From what I understand, it was based somewhat on an anime called Angels Never Sleep.  There is a mixture of both the anime and live-action.  The anime portion is hauntingly beautiful.  It’s a bit of a trip, but you should check it out…

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The Quiet Earth…  A wonderful “last man on earth” tale coming out of New Zealand.  Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) wakes up at 6:12am to a world in which he is alone.  After a few days, eventually going a little mad, he comes across a woman,  Joanne (Alison Routledge).  Think it’s gonna get all Adam and Eve?  Nope, they end up coming across a fairly stout Maori fella by the name of Api (Pete Smith).  This, of course, results in a typical love triangle, but Zac is a scientist and is concentrating more on just what has happened and why.  Seems he may have had something to do with it.

The ending scene has become fairly famous in the postapoc film genre and really leaves the watcher wanting more.  I’ve always thought it would be great if someone would continue the story in book form…

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Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior)…  “My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams, this wasted land. But most of all, I remember the road warrior, the man we called Max. To understand who he was we have to go back to the other time, when the world was powered by the black fuel and the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel — gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel they were nothing. They’d built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked, but nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. Cities exploded — a whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men.

On the roads it was a white-line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice, and in this maelstrom of decay ordinary men were battered and smashed — men like Max, the warrior Max. In the roar of an engine, he lost everything and became a shell of a man, a burnt-out desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again.”

Max is back!  Taking place approximately three years after the first film, Max spends his existence roaming the wastes hunting for fuel.  Eventually coming across a refinery in the desert populated by Pappagallo and his clan of white-armored followers, he finds that it is being harassed by Humungus – the Lord of the Wasteland, and his gang of marauders.  The denizens of the refinery have plans to strike out into the wasteland and search for a better place.  Striking a bargain with Pappagallo, Max agrees to find a tanker that will hold all of that “juice” in return for some guzzoline and a 125,000 mile service on his “last of the V-8’s” Interceptor.

Things pretty much go to hell after that.

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And so ends Part 1 of my Fav’s of the 80’s.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and stay tuned for Part 2 coming in the near future…. if there’s a future left.

Who’s my favorite writer? Glad you asked…

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 When I was in Junior High (’82-’83), I found a book in the school library called The Long  Afternoon of Earth by Brian Aldiss.  I thought it was absolutely fascinating!  It was an abridged  version of Hothouse, but I wouldn’t learn that until many years later.

 Flash forward to sometime in the mid-90’s and I had been trying to remember the title, but it  escaped me.  I remembered the author though.  I’d ask in various used book stores whenever I  moved somewhere new (I never spent more than 2 years in any one place from 1988 to 2002).    All I could remember was that the cover was kind of green, it took place very far in the future and  the Earth had stopped rotating on its axis.  There were gigantic, mile-long spiders that had spun webs from the Earth’s surface to the moon.  Humans had devolved into these three-foot-tall little monkey-dudes.  That’s it, that’s all I could remember.

Around 1997, I was in a used bookstore in Coeur d’Alene, ID, asking the owner if he’d heard of such a thing and naturally he didn’t have a clue.  I turned around to leave and (swear to God – if I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’) noticed the spine of a book on the scifi shelf about 10 feet away.  I walked toward it like a freaking cat stalking a robin and sure-as-shit, there it was.  People talk about miracles.  That, my friend, was a miracle.  The odds of that happening were nil.  I bought it and still have it.  I found a copy of Hothouse a short time afterwards in a used bookstore in El Cajon, CA.

I had decided that Aldiss was my favorite author when I first read that book in the early 80’s and I’ve considered him such ever since.  The adventure of finding that book really clinched the deal and holds some pretty special meaning for me.  I’ve read about a dozen of his stories and have seven or eight of his books on the shelf.

So, yeah… if you were to ask me who my favorite author is, it’s Brian Aldiss.

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My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movies of the 1970’s…

And now we’ve come to the 70’s.  There is just something cool about the movies made during that time and the post-apocalypse genre was really coming into it’s own.  We were now moving a bit away from the standard Atom Bomb and the Mutated Monster and beginning to portray a society that had devolved into barbarism and ruin.  The movies started becoming more violent and edgy and having either a sole individual or a group of people fighting for their life.  Some of the movies retained a simpleness of the 50’s and 60’s, while others (like Zardoz and Wizards) got “a little out there”.

As in the previous installments of “My favorite postapoc films…”, click the image to be linked to a video.  Most of the videos this time will be trailers instead of the full movie.

 

A Boy and His Dog.  “World War IV lasted 5 days.  The politicians had finally solved the problem of urban blight.  2024 A.D.

It’s with an opening series of blossoming mushroom clouds and the preceding text that we are introduced to the film adaptation of the novella Vic and Blood by Harlan Ellison.  Starring an excruciatingly young Don Johnson as Vic and his dog, Blood,  this movie takes place in a desert wasteland for approximately the first half of the film and in an underground oasis for approximately the second half.  Vic and Blood spend their days looking for food… and women.  I reckon there wouldn’t be much else to do for a boy and his dog in the ruins of the old world.  The movie is rather darkly humorous and the voice of Blood is hypnotizing – oh, did I not mention that?  Yeah, Blood the dog can talk – well, telepathically anyway.  The conversations between the two are the real stars of the film.

The movie did not receive rave reviews when it was released, but it became a cult phenomenon in later years, especially when released on VHS.  The one thing that it may be most well known for is the last line of dialogue, which is spoken by Blood.  It was absolutely hated by Ellison, who criticized it as a “moronic, hateful chauvinist last line, which I despise.”  You’ll have to be the judge – I thought it was hilarious.

A little tidbit in regards to the Book of Eli – if you look on the walls of the room Eli is staying in the hotel, there is clearly a movie poster of A Boy and His Dog.

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Damnation Alley.  I first saw this on network television back in the early 80’s.  Back in the day when we had all of two channels.  It would be years before I would get to rent it over and over again.  Since then, I have watched it a number of times and have read the book it was based on by Roger Zelazny.  The similarity between the book and the movie is essentially restricted to the title.

Featuring Jan-Michael Vincent in his earlier days as 1st Lt. Jake Tanner, it also starred the likes of George Peppard, Dominique Sanda, and Jackie Earle Haley.  The story revolves around a group of Air Force missile silo personnel who survive a nuclear attack on the United States.  The tension between 1st Lt. Tanner and Major Eugene “Sam” Denton (Peppard) is palpable.  So much so, that it wouldn’t surprise me if the two actors didn’t much care for each other on set.

They discover a radio transmission that originates from Albany, NY.  Bad news is that they are currently somewhere in the California desert.  So what do they do?  They climb aboard two of the most iconic vehicles to ever grace the silver screen – the Landmaster.  Giant 12-wheeled armored vehicles that look like they could make accordion music as they travel.  Early into their exodus, they encounter a freak storm and one of the Landmasters is destroyed.  Along the way, they come across survivors, dirtbags, mutant armored cockroaches, freakish aurora borealis-type skies, and gigantic irradiated scorpions.

The ending scene was filmed right here in Lakeside, MT.  Apparently George Peppard was a fan of Montana and coaxed them to film here.  I feel oddly bonded to this film.

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The Final Programme.  Based on the book of the same name by Michael Moorcock.  I’m not really sure where to start with it.  It is a favorite of mine in the sense that it is fairly obscure and such an odd bird.  A group of British scientists are on the hunt for information that will allow them to develop “The Final Programme” – a process that involves combining a woman and a man to form an hermaphroditic all-purpose human being.  The result?

Tell ya what, just watch the trailer…

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Logan’s Run.   The quintessential science fiction film of the 1970’s (barring Star Wars).  Loosely based on a book of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson (there is actually a trilogy of books – they’re all quite good), the story takes place in the year 2274.  After a nuclear apocalypse that happened long ago, the remnants of humanity live in dome cities where life is a utopian paradise.  The downside?  Life ends at 30.  When a citizen reaches “Lastday”, it’s off to “Carousel” where they are vaporized… er, I mean “Renewed”.

The story follows Logan 5.  A “Sandman” (always loved that job title) who’s job is to catch “runners”.  Runners are those who do not believe in renewal and choose instead to, well…. run.  Their destination?  Sanctuary, of course.  A place where people can be free to live to a ripe old age.

Logan 5 is tasked to find Sanctuary and destroy it.  In order to do this, his lifeclock is fast-forwarded to last day and he is forced to run.  He meets Jessica, a runner sympathizer, and they make their way outside of the dome city, in search of Sanctuary.  They are pursued by Francis 7, Logan’s fellow Sandman and best friend.  Francis is not aware of Logan’s mission and thinks that Logan has actually turned runner.

There was a short-lived television show in the 70’s based on the movie and going by the same title.  The pilot episode is essentially the same as the movie with a few changes.  The rest of the series takes place outside and follows them in their search for Sanctuary.  I am quite fond of the television series.

The question remains, do they ever find Sanctuary?  The answer is not as simple as you might think…

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Mad Max.  “The warrior Max.  To know him you’d have to go back to another time…”.

This is where it all began.  The genesis of Max Rockatansky’s past and the events that turned him into a wanderer of the wasteland – a road warrior.  You see, Max once had a house, a family, a job.  He was a cop, a husband, and a father.  In the roar of an engine, it was all taken away from him.  He lost everything.

Max was the best of the best.  So much so that he became afraid of becoming that dragon he was so effective at slaying.  Taking a vacation with his family, he is hunted down by an outlaw gang, led by one of the best bad guys ever – Toecutter (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne).  After losing those he holds most dear to this gloryroader and his minions, he returns to secure the “last of the V-8’s”, donning his leathers and heaters, and setting out to kill each and every last one.

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No Blade of Grass.  A British film based on the book The Death of Grass by John Christopher, this one deals with a future in which civilization has broken down because of a plague.  Global famine ensues and food riots rip cities apart.  The story follows a man who tries to get his family to the safety of Scotland.  It is a great tale of survival and the extremes a man will go to in order to protect his family.

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Omega Man.  The second incarnation of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.  Also the most well-known version.  It is also the one that is most loosely based on the book.  But, it’s got Charlton Heston killing mutants, so who cares.

In 1975, U.S. Army Col. Robert Neville, M.D. (Heston) find himself the sole survivor of a biological attack that has either killed or turned the population into albino mutants.  Neville was able to inject himself with an antidote before the total breakdown of society and is effectively immune to the plague.

Neville spends his days running 4 minute miles (um, yeah….ok).  When he’s not doing this, he is hunting down “The Family”, mapping the city, and dressing up all fancy like.  He likes to haggle with imaginary car dealers,take sports cars for a spin, and having conversations with store window mannequins.

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Phase IV.  Not so much post-apocalypse, but perhaps closer to gettin’-damn-near-to-the-apocalypse.  In the Arizona desert, a group of scientists study the rapid evolution of a colony of ants.  These ants are smart… and they are up to some fairly odd shenanigans.  Building towers for no apparent reason.  Creating mirrored glass focal lenses that direct sunlight to the scientists’ lab in order to heat things up.  Gaining access to the lab and mucking around with the AC.  Yeah, these little guys are up to something, but what?

Taking over the world, that’s what.  The end is something akin to 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Just plain weird, but fascinating at the same time.

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And as an added bonus, if you want to watch most of the entire movie, Phase IV was featured on a very early episode (the 9th episode, 1989) of MST3K.  Enjoy!

 


 

Quintet.  Another film that makes it difficult for me to nail down why it is a favorite.  Quintet takes place sometime during the next ice age.  The main character, Essex (Paul Newman) and his pregnant girlfriend, Vivia (Brigitte Fossey) wander across the frozen wastes.  They come across a snow and ice covered settlement and things just get weird.  Trying to follow the storyline can be an exercise in futility at times.

People spend their days playing a game called Quintet.  You know what, I’m not even going to attempt to describe it.  You can find the rules here.  Trust me, you’ll be in a far better place if I don’t try to explain it.

The movie did not do well, but like most of these films, it gained a cult following in later years.  It’s one redeeming quality is it’s bleak visual setting.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much…

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Ravagers.  Getting back to the good stuff, back to basics.  Moral decay and, well… ravaging.  This one is based on the book of the same name by Robert Edmond Alter.  Some time after a nuclear war, humanity does what it can to survive against mutated marauders – or in this case, Ravagers.  The story follows a man whose wife is killed by these vermin and so begins a vengeance tale.  He finds a community of people that live on board a ship until it is destroyed by ravagers.  He does what he can to lead the survivors to someplace safe where they can live in peace and free from – yep… ravagers.

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Soylent Green.  What was is about the 70’s and the dominance of Charlton Heston in post-apocalypse films?  Omega Man, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and now Soylent Green…

The year is 2022 and the world is severely overpopulated.  Couple this with the ravages of pollution, war, and disease, you’ve got a perfect storm for a delightful dystopia.  New York City alone is populated with forty million people.  Where do they live?  In the streets, on stairwells, on each other, anywhere they can fit.  What do they eat?  Wafer-like crackers called Soylent.  Purported to be made from plankton (“sea greens and protein from the sea”… pardon me, I still have Logan’s Run on the brain), it is the chief foodstuff of the future and rationed to the hordes of homeless.

Enter NYPD Detective Frank Thorn (Heston) and his old friend who remembers “the time before”, Solomon “Sol” Roth (Edward G. Robinson).  The scenes with these two are worth the watch.  While Thorn is investigating various and sundry illicit goings on, Solomon is investigating something on his own – just where Soylent comes from.  I won’t tell you what it is, but the answer is delivered only as Charlton Heston can.

The film is a fairly fun romp, and remember, Friday is Soylent Green day…

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The Ultimate Warrior.  “After the ultimate war, comes… the Ultimate Warrior.”  After the last world wars have almost wiped man off the earth. With food disappearing, water scarce and all machines stopped, one lone band of survivors cuddles behind walls of debris under the leader they call The Baron (Max von Sydow).  There’s only one man who can get through the roving street people.  This is… Yul Brynner…. er, I mean… the Ultimate Warrior!

A refreshing, simple tale of good versus evil.  A group of people trying to simply survive are constantly harassed by a gang led by a leader with such a terrifying name that it is sure to strike terror in even the bravest of souls.  What is his name, you ask?  I hesitate to say.  You may never sleep again.  You may end up looking over your shoulder at every passing shadow.  Alright then, I warned you…. Carrot.  CARROT!!!  Fear the dark, feel the sweat start to…. awww, forget it.

The plotline is simple, The Baron enlists the aid of a lone wanderer to help his community combat Carrot and his minions.  It is reminiscent of Kurosawa’s film Yojimbo.  It is a fairly violent film and the fight scenes are *ahem* well orchestrated.

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Wizards.  An animated feature by Ralph Bakshi, the same talent behind the animated features The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.  It features Mark Hamill in one of his earlier animated voice-overs as Sean, King of the Mountain Fairies.

The story takes place some 3,000 years after a nuclear war wiped out the planet.  There has been a return of magic and sorcery, fairies and goblins.  There are two rival wizard brothers, Avatar (the good one) and Blackwolf (the bad one).  Blackwolf discovers technology that will help him “take over the world!”.  It is up to Avatar and his friends to combat Blackwolf and his army of goblins.  Done in pure Bakshi form, this movie is an animated acid trip.

Click the poster for the full movie…

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Zardoz.  Sean Connery in thigh boots and a red nappy.  Need I say more?

This one takes place in the year 2293.  Earth has been devastated by war and two factions of survivors exist – the “Brutals”, those who live in the wasteland and scrape by on a measly existence, and the “Eternals”, those immortals who live behind an impenetrable barrier that separates their lush, green, paradise (the Vortex) from the blasted landscape.

The Eternals consider the Brutals as nothing more than cattle.  Using them to grow crops and as slave labor.  The story centers around Zed (Connery), who is an Exterminator.  Exterminators are brutal in every sense of the word, their sole purpose being to terrorize and kill Brutals at the whim of Zardoz – a gigantic flying stone head.  In exchange for grain and food, Zardoz offers up to them guns and weapons of war.

One day, Zed hitches a ride on Zardoz and is taken back to the Vortex, where he is enlsaved and experimented upon.  There are some Eternals that determine this man is the answer to ending their boring, corrupt existence.

It’s a bit violent, a bit wacky, but I mean come on… Sean Connery in a red nappy and thigh boots!

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And so ends this episode of “My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Films of….”.  The 70’s really changed the way we see postapoc films.  Some became grittier, more violent, while others took us on a kind of psychedelic mind trip that was indicative of the time.  Next time we’ll be taking a look at the 80’s.  The decade of delicious Italian Mad Max 2 ripoffs and straight-to-video diamonds in the rough.

My favorite Post-Apocalypse movies of the 1960’s…

The Sixties… drugs, sex, and rock and roll.  Or perhaps it was irresponsible excess, flamboyance, and the decay of social order.  Whichever one you want to pick, it was a decade of some of the best post-apocalypse movies made – well, since the 50’s anyway.

Click the poster to watch the movie, trailer, or scenes.

 

Let’s start off with The Bed Sitting Room.  Wow, how do I even describe it?  It’s British.  Seriously, it’s wonderfully British.  If you are a fan of Monty Python or Terry Gilliam films, I would imagine you would like this.  A few years after a nuclear war (three, maybe four – we’re not sure), we follow a group of very interesting folks, doing fairly interesting things.  The title comes from one of the characters who is afraid that he is actually going to turn into a bed sitting room (for those not familiar with what a bed sitting room is, it is a one-room apartment typically consisting of a combined bedroom and sitting room with cooking facilities).  It gets even weirder when he actually does turn into a bed sitting room.  Even weirder when his mother turns into a wardrobe.  Intrigued?  Check it out…

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Let’s move on to Beyond the Time Barrier.  This one was filmed in only ten days, so you know it’s a gem.  While flying an experimental aircraft, an Air Force test pilot ends up landing back on Earth, except that the airport now looks deserted – and for some time.  Looking to the horizon, he sees the bomb-blasted horizon of a city, while right next to it (literally, right next to it) is a Utopian city.  He is captured and taken below ground by a race of people who are descendants of those lucky enough to, well, get below ground.  Here’s the kicker – they’re all mute.  Well, except for the “Supreme” (dude in charge) and his big bully minion.  Oh, the Supreme has a daughter who takes a shine to our test pilot.  Come to find out, others from various times and places have been transported here and are secretly working to get back home.  There are mutants of course, those who are descended from the poor souls stuck topside who were unlucky enough to fall victim to the plague.  You can tell they’re mutants of course because they’re bald.  Mutants are always bald, don’tcha know…

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The Last Man on Earth.  Based on the book, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.  Follow Dr. Robert Morgan as he spends the day filling up his generator with gas, playing music on the phonograph, checking to make sure the garlic is fresh, going slightly mad and, oh – driving stakes through the hearts of undead “vampires” and tossing their corpses into a burn pit.  Lovely…

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Planet of the Apes.  A planet where apes evolved from men?  “We finally really did it… You Maniacs!  You blew it up!  Ah, damn you!  God damn you all to hell!

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And finally, The Time Machine.  One of my favorite postapoc films of all time, definitely in the top three.  The Time Traveler (played by Rod Taylor) ventures forth to the year 802, 701.  He meets a race of people called the Eloi who seem to have been descended from those who survived whatever final cataclysm that destroyed civilization.  Come to find out that they are nothing more than cattle for an underground race, the Morlocks, that are descended from those who escaped below ground.  The Morlocks keep the Eloi fat and happy – so that they can eat them.  It’s quite a nice balance going on…

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My favorite Post-Apocalypse movies of the 1950’s…

The Atom Bomb…  Radiation…  Mutation…

These were big buzzwords in the 1950’s and gave rise to a breed of film that exploited them to the fullest.  The 50’s was really the full dawn of the post-apocalypse film.  I’d like the take the opportunity to present some of my favorites from that time.  These are not works of art.  They are not high-cinema.  What they are, are warnings that The Bomb could fall at any moment, people would either become shadows on a wall or some sort of mutant, hell bent on killing everyone they came across.  Good times!

Oh, you can click on the image to view a trailer or scene on youtube.

Starting off with the Day the World Ended.  Enter an old man and his daughter holed up in the mountains and the strangers that make their way to this little slice of heaven.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another movie in which there were characters I would like to take out back behind the woodshed and literally beat them to within an inch of their life.  This one is an exercise in patience…

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Next up, On the Beach.  This one actually hints at being fairly realistic.  Based on the wonderful book by Nevil Shute, it is a suspenseful drama, rather than an effects-laden romp with mutants.  Nuclear fallout has killed everything in the northern hemisphere.  A Naval submarine is stationed off the coast of Australia and receives a signal from San Francisco.  They decide to set sail and investigate.  This one is a heart wrencher and best watched with a loved one – just make sure there aren’t any cyanide pills around and stay out of the garage…

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Robot Monster.  What can I say?  Filmed in only four days, it’s the most wonderful worst film you’ll ever watch in your life.  There was rumor that the director, Phil Tucker, had attempted to commit suicide because it was so bad.  Reality is that he did actually attempt it (and failed) because of depression and a dispute with the film’s distributor.  Needless to say, you may feel the urge to throw a towel over the curtain rod after watching this one…

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When Worlds Collide.  A classic.  Well filmed and a great story.  Mankind learns of a rogue star that is on a direct collision course with Earth.  An “ark” is built and trained for the planet that orbits Bellus (the star that is about to make everyone’s day really bad in about 8 months).  I highly recommend this one as well as reading the books When World’s Collide and the sequel After World’s Collide, both written by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer…

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And finally, World Without End.  Starring Rod Taylor in one of his earliest roles.  It tells the tale of four astronauts returning to Earth after a trip ’round Mars.  Time distortion, ending up hundreds of years in the future, mutants (in this case “mutates”) roving the surface, while down below – you guessed it – a virtual utopia.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, me too.  But this is one of the better movies that uses the same exact recipe as a myriad of others…

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