The following is a master-list of post-apocalyptic films, covering near and far future apocalypses, as survivors struggle in a new world. The list is in no particular order. Clicking on the images will take you to more information / viewing options on Amazon.
Title: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Director: George Miller
Stars: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence
What it’s all about: The Road Warrior fights for a community beset by barbarians, in a nuclear holocaust where oil is sparse.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Director:
George Miller Year:
Mel Gibson, Tina Turner What it’s all about:
The Road Warrior returns to take on another unjust society, involving a popular bloodsport, duels in the Thunderdome.
Title: 12 Monkeys
Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stow, Brad Pitt
What it’s all about: A convict travels through time from a future devastated by disease to try and gather information about the virus that caused it.
The Book of Eli Director:
Gary Whitta Year:
Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis, Gary Oldman What it’s all about:
A wandering stranger fights through an apocalyptic wasteland, determined to prevent a mysterious book from falling into the wrong hands.
Title: I Am Legend
Director: Francis Lawrence
Stars: Will Smith
What it’s all about: Modern New York retelling of the classic novel, Robert Neville hunts the diseased population by day and hides by night. In a solidly polished romp that completely misses the point of the book.
The Omega Man Director:
Boris Sagal Year:
Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe What it’s all about:
Bombastic reimagining of the book I Am Legend
, Robert Neville fights to find a cure for the plague that’s wiped out the rest of humanity. Faithfully covers the book for 30 minutes or so. Then throws in sassy survivors and kids in peril.
Title: Silent Running
Director: Douglass Trumball
Stars: Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts
What it’s all about: All the flora on Earth has been destroyed, and only a spaceship full of plants remains. Freeman Lowell is tasked with getting rid of it.
Kevin Reynolds Year:
Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper What it’s all about:
The ice caps melt and the world is flooded; with civilisation driven to permanently floating about, it’s up to the underwater-breathing loaner, Mariner, to save the straggling survivors from the oppressive smokers.
Title: The Planet of the Apes
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall
What it’s all about: An astronaut is stranded on a planet where apes have taken over and enslaved the humans. First in an iconic series, with a recent indicipherable remake and a high octane apocalyptic prequel.
Reign of Fire Director:
Rob Bowman Year:
Christian Bale, Mathew McConaughey What it’s all about:
In a devastated future England, dragons have driven the surviving humans in hiding. A tough American dragon hunter rallies the troops to drive at the heart of the enemy.
Director: Shane Acker
Stars: Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly
What it’s all about: Rag dolls brought to life in a post-apocalyptic landscape have the opportunity to save humanity, in this visually impressive animation.
The Postman Director:
Kevin Costner Year:
Kevin Costner, Will Patton What it’s all about:
The Postman treks across post-apocalyptic America, delivering mail and ultimately rallying the masses against militant lunatics. Based on the book, Costner’s second foray into the apocalypse following Waterworld fell somewhat flat.
Title: Resident Evil: Extinction
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter
What it’s all about: Survivors of the Racoon City disaster travel across the desolate Nevada Desert, towards Alaska, facing twisted creatures and the sinister Umbrella Corporation that caused this mess. Wider in scope, and with more ordinary human focus, than the other films in the series.
The Road Director:
John Hillcoat Year:
Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron What it’s all about:
A perfectly realised rendition of the book
, this pits father and son into an eminently bleak atmosphere, walking across wasted America to reach the sea.
Title: Fist of the North Star
Director: Toyoo Ashida
Stars: Akira Kamiya, Yuriko Yamamoto
What it’s all about: The survivors of a nuclear holocaust are oppressed by a range of superhumans. But Kenshiro’s coming to save them. A classic anime, also remade into a weak live-action film in 1995.
Dawn of the Dead Director:
George A. Romero Year:
David Emge, Ken Foree What it’s all about:
Survivors of a zombie apocalypse rally in a supermarket, in a horror classic laced with social commentary. Remade in 2004 by Zac Snyder.
Title: A Boy and His Dog
Director: L.Q. Jones
Stars: Don Johnson, Jason Robards
What it’s all about: With the ability to talk telepathically, the titular boy and dog scavenge for food across post-apocalyptic America, and happen upon a weird underground society of survivors. Based on a novella by Harlan Ellison.
Andrew Stanton Year:
Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin What it’s all about:
The humans have left Earth to waste, and only the diligently hard-working garbage robot, Wall-E,remains. Until he finds EVE. A charming digital animation from Disney and Pixar.
Title: The Stand
Director: Mike Garris
Stars: Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald.
What it’s all about: A TV mini-series based on Stephen King’s novel, this finds the survivors of a man-made plague pitched into a battle of good vs evil.
Terminator Salvation Director:
Sam Worthington, Christian Bale What it’s all about:
The first film in the terminator series set entirely in its post-apocalyptic future, Marcus Wright searches for a band of survivors in a world ruined by nuclear holocaust, now run by machines.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson
What it’s all about: A group of mismatched survivors travel across America following a zombie apocalypse. The pairing of a neurotic student and a tough Twinkie-lover makes for an unlikely successful comedy.
Andrei Tarkovsky Year:
Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Alisa Freyndlikh What it’s all about:
A stalker guides two men through the Zone, a mysterious wasteland rife with anomalies, said to contain a room that grants wishes. A visually stunning and darkly atmospheric classic. Loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic.
Director: Mick Jackson
Stars: Karen Meagher, Reece Dinsdale
What it’s all about: Made for TV, to highlight the long-term effects of nuclear war, this documentary-style depiction of nuclear holocaust in working class Sheffield is designed to disturb. And it succeeds, somberly removing all romantics from the subject.
City of Ember Director:
Gil Kenan Year:
Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray What it’s all about:
The City of Ember flourishes in isolation, beautifully lit, protected from an outside world laid to waste. But the generator is failing, and the lights start fading. Based on the young-adult novel, it sadly reveals the twist in the opening moments.
Director: Jospeh Kosinski
Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman
What it’s all about: A soldier sent to an abandoned Earth to extract its remaining resources starts to question the truth about his mission.
28 Days Later Director:
Danny Boyle Year:
Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris What it’s all about:
A man wakes in a hospital to find London abandoned, but quickly discovers people turned mad by disease. Brilliantly shot, dark and socially conscious, this also revived the zombie genre with fast-moving enemies.
Title: The Day After
Year: Nicholas Meyer
Stars: Jason Robards, JoBeth Williams
What it’s all about: Doing for America what Threads did for the UK, this TV movie depicts the aftermath of nuclear holocaust in Kansas, in all its grimly realistic detail.
Stake Land Director:
Jim Mickle Year:
Conor Paolo, Nick Damici What it’s all about:
In a country that’s fallen apart, politically and economically, a race of vampires has swept through destroying the human race. Oridinary teenage survivor, Martin, teams up with Mister to take the fight to them.
Title: Night of the Comet
Director: Thom E. Eberhardt
Stars: Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney
What it’s all about: Two Valley Girls are all who are left are a comet wipes out most of the life on Earth. It’s up to them to fight the evil that remains.
Wonderful Days (aka Sky Blue) Director:
Moon-saeng Kim Year:
Marc Worden, Cathy Cavadini (English version) What it’s all about:
After the world is pollution, survivors secure in the isolated city Ecoban live better than the rest. Rebels outside the city enlist Shua to try and restore order, and end the pollution.
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Stars: Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo
What it’s all about: An epidemic causing instant blindness leads to the formation of a quarantined society of oppression. The doctor’s wife aims to break others free. Based on the novel.
Six String Samurai Director:
Lance Mungia Year:
Jeffrey Falcon What it’s all about:
Rock and roll samurai protects a young boy in post-apocalyptic Nevada, hunted by Heavy Metal reapers, communists and more, in one of the most unique films you’ll ever see.
Title: The Day of the Triffids
Director: Ken Hannam
Stars: John Duttine, Emma Relph
What it’s all about: The most faithful and successful adaptation of the novel, a TV mini-series from the BBC: Bill Masen looks for survivors in London beset by blindness and carnivorous plants. Remade in 2009, and as a movie in 1962.
Virus (Fukkatsu no hi) Director:
Kinji Fukasaku Year:
Masao Kusakiri, Bo Svenson, George Kennedy What it’s all about:
An epic combo of Japanese and American filmmaking charting the end of the world as a military-engineered virus leaves only a small band of survivors in Antarctica. Hauntingily bleak, worth finding in its full-length form.
Title: The Quiet Earth
Director: Geoff Murphy
Stars: Bruno Lawrence, Alison Routledge
What it’s all about: A man awakens to find he is alone. When he finds a handful of other survivors, tensions mount as they try to figure out what made everyone disappear. Based on the book by Craig Harrison.
After Earth Director:
M. Night Shyamalan Year:
Will Smith, Jaden Smith What it’s all about:
Father and son crash land on a hostile Earth, thousands of years after humanity abandoned it.
Title: The Last Man on Earth
Director: Ubaldo Ragona
Stars: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia
What it’s all about: A disease turns people into the living dead, and one man survives to deal with them. The first movie adaptation of I Am Legend, which Richard Matheson himself worked on (but disowned).
Panic in Year Zero Director:
Ray Milland Year:
Ray Milland, Jean Hagen What it’s all about:
An everyday American family come to terms with survival after a nuclear apocalypse in this low-budget, sober account of the impact of a nuclear holocaust on ordinary people.
Title: Mutant Chronicles
Director: Simon Hunter
Stars: Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman
What it’s all about: Forced away from Earth after devastating attacks, a group of soldiers are dispatched into a hazardous underworld to try and stop the mutants once and for all.
Tank Girl Director:
Rachel Talalay Year:
Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell What it’s all about:
An often ridiculous fun ride through a desolate landscape as the madcap tank girl takes on a water-stealing corporation. Based on the popular comic series.
Title: The Divide
Director: Xavier Gens
Stars: Lauren German, Michael Biehn
What it’s all about: After a nuclear apocalypse, tensions rise for a group of survivors, banded together in an apartment with rapidly dwindling supplies.
Escape from New York Director:
John Carpenter Year:
Kurt Russel, Lee Van Cleef What it’s all about:
In a desolate crime-ridden America of the future, the whole of New York has been converted into a prison. When the President crash-lands there and is taken hostage, it’s up to hardened criminal Snake Plissken to get him out.
Title: Escape from LA
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi
What it’s all about: In this less than successful sequel, Snake Plissken returns to save the President’s daughter from LA, a city ravaged and turned savage by earthquakes.