Apocalyptic Cinema - Pre & Post

Apocalypse: An apocalypse is a text or story describing a scenario of final judgement. The most famous Apocalyptic text is Revelation, in the Christian New Testament.

Excerpts from essays at Transparency:
"Works of post-apocalyptic fiction and science fiction are simultaneously critiques of contemporary society, disguised depictions of personal development and the mind, and retellings of ancient myths. They use all of these 'realms' of meaning to create new myths about the loss of civilization and what we can do to protect it.

They typically show us a future in which elements from the past and present have been exaggerated and brought into an ironic juxtaposition with each other, to depict a world turned upside down. Into these strange futures come redeemers who are recruited by fate to save humanity from its own worst instincts. The redeemers are a somewhat disguised depiction of us, struggling against the fallen state of society and our own psychodynamics in an effort to create the world we are certain should exist. [...]

Most of the settings of post-apocalyptic fiction are of three types. "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome" falls into one type, showing us a world in which humanity has fallen back into barbarism and is replaying the tape of history. The other two types are world's in which the characters are trapped in a prison of high technology and simulation, that is disguised to look like a paradise ("Logan's Run"), and worlds in which civilization retains technology but is in a state of breakdown and collapse ("Blade Runner", etc.)".

---
So post-apocalyptic films are indeed fiction (though not necessarily science fiction, mind you), and retain a sense of massive despair, where common rules of conduct don't apply. They take us on a roller-coaster ride through parallel universes that depict events which we can only hope will never take place in our own, leaving us numbed and truly mind-boggled afterwards.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet. (129 mins.)
Director: Terry Gilliam
 
2.
1984 (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
In a totalitarian future society, a man whose daily work is rewriting history tries to rebel by falling in love. (113 mins.)
Director: Michael Radford
 
3.
2019: After the Fall of New York (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
After a nuclear war, society breaks down into two groups, the evil Euraks and the rebel Federation.... (96 mins.)
Director: Martin Dolman
 
4.
28 Days Later... (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary. (113 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
 
5.
A Boy and His Dog (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A post-apocalyptic tale based on a novella by Harlan Ellison. A boy communicates telepathically with his dog as they scavenge for food and sex... (91 mins.)
Director: L.Q. Jones
 
6.
Blade Runner (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator. (117 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
7.
Brazil (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A bureaucrat in a retro-future world tries to correct an administrative error and himself becomes an enemy of the state. (132 mins.)
Director: Terry Gilliam
 
8.
Damnation Alley (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
In a post-apocalyptic world, a group of survivors travel and find other settlements in huge custom designed all terrain vehicles. (91 mins.)
Director: Jack Smight
 
9.
Demolition Man (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A police officer is brought out of suspended animation in prison to pursue an old ultra-violent nemesis who is loose in a non-violent future society. (115 mins.)
Director: Marco Brambilla
 
10.
Dragon Head (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
A teenage boy wakes up and finds himself on a train. He vaguely remembers being on a class trip when something terrible happened, and he is one of the few survivors. (122 mins.)
Director: Jôji Iida
 
11.
Equilibrium (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In a fascist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system. (107 mins.)
Director: Kurt Wimmer
 
12.
Escape from L.A. (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Snake Plissken is once again called in by the United States government to recover a potential doomsday device from Los Angeles, now an autonomous island where undesirables are deported. (101 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
13.
Escape from New York (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him. (99 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
14.
Independence Day (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind's best weapon is the will to survive. (145 mins.)
Director: Roland Emmerich
 
15.
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
A data courier, literally carrying a data package inside his head, must deliver it before he dies from the burden or is killed by the Yakuza. (96 mins.)
Director: Robert Longo
 
16.
Judge Dredd (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
In a dystopian future, Joseph Dredd, the most famous Judge (a police officer with instant field judiciary powers), is convicted for a crime he did not commit and must face his murderous counterpart. (96 mins.)
Director: Danny Cannon
 
17.
Last Woman on Earth (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  
Ev, along with her husband, Harold, and their lawyer friend Martin, are swimming while on vacation in Puerto Rico... (71 mins.)
Director: Roger Corman
 
18.
Le Dernier Combat (The Last Battle) (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In the post-apocalyptic future, only a few humans are left. No one is able to speak; the film contains no dialogue... (92 mins.)
Director: Luc Besson
 
19.
Time of the Wolf (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
When Anna and her family arrive at their holiday home, they find it occupied by strangers. This confrontation is just the beginning of a painful learning process. (114 mins.)
Director: Michael Haneke
 
20.
Logan's Run (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
An idyllic sci-fi future has one major drawback: life must end at the age of 30. (119 mins.)
 
21.
Mad Max (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang. (88 mins.)
Director: George Miller
 
22.
Miracle Mile (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A young man hears a chance phone call telling him that a nuclear war has started and missiles will hit his city in 70 minutes. (87 mins.)
 
23.
On the Beach (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
After a global nuclear war, the residents of Australia must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months. (134 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kramer
 
24.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved. (112 mins.)
 
25.
Reign of Fire (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A brood of fire-breathing dragons emerges from the earth and begins setting everything ablaze, establishing dominance over the planet. (101 mins.)
Director: Rob Bowman
 
26.
Resident Evil (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A special military unit fights a powerful, out-of-control supercomputer and hundreds of scientists who have mutated into flesh-eating creatures after a laboratory accident. (100 mins.)
 
27.
Returner (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A young woman from the future forces a local gunman to help her stop an impending alien invasion which will wipe out the human race. (116 mins.)
 
28.
Six-String Samurai (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
In the post-apocalyptic world of 1960s Nevada, a rock 'n' roll samurai takes a young boy under his protection. (91 mins.)
Director: Lance Mungia
 
29.
Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A man named Billy Pilgirm tells the story of how he became unstuck in time and was abducted by aliens. (104 mins.)
Director: George Roy Hill
 
30.
Soylent Green (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In the world ravaged by the greenhouse effect and overpopulation, an NYPD detective investigates the murder of a big company CEO. (97 mins.)
 
31.
Stalker (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes. (163 mins.)
 
32.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her teenage son, John Connor, from a more advanced cyborg. (137 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
 
33.
Testament (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The life of a suburban American family is scarred after a nuclear attack. (90 mins.)
Director: Lynne Littman
 
34.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age. (124 mins.)
Director: Roland Emmerich
 
35.
The Last Days of Man on Earth (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
After the death of his Nobel Prize-winning father, billionaire physicist Jerry Cornelius becomes embroiled... (81 mins.)
Director: Robert Fuest
 
36.
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
When a disease turns all of humanity into the living dead, the last man on earth becomes a reluctant vampire hunter. (86 mins.)
 
37.
The Last Train (1999 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A group of commuter train passagers are put in accidental suspended animation and emerge years later into a devastated world. (54 mins.)
 
38.
The Matrix (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers. (136 mins.)
 
39.
The Omega Man (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Army doctor Robert Neville struggles to create a cure for the plague that wiped out most of the human race. (98 mins.)
Director: Boris Sagal
 
40.
The Postman (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A nameless drifter dons a postman's uniform and bag of mail as he begins a quest to inspire hope to the survivors living in post-apocalyptic America. (177 mins.)
Director: Kevin Costner
 
41.
The Quiet Earth (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A man named Zac Hobson awakens to find himself alone in the world. In a desperate attempt to search for others, he finds only two who have their own agenda. (91 mins.)
Director: Geoffrey Murphy
 
42.
The Stand (1994 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
After a deadly plague kills most of the world's population, the remaining survivors split into two groups - one led by a benevolent elder and the other by a maleficent being - to face each other in a final battle between good and evil. (361 mins.)
 
43.
The Terminator (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A seemingly indestructible humanoid cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs. (107 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
 
44.
The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A miner trapped in a cave-in resurfaces, and upon discovering mankind has been wiped out in a nuclear holocaust, sets out to find other survivors. (95 mins.)
 
45.
Things to Come (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The story of a century: a decades-long second World War leaves plague and anarchy, then a rational state rebuilds civilization and attempts space travel. (100 mins.)
 
46.
Threads (1984 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Documentary-style account of a nuclear holocaust and its effect on the working class city of Sheffield, England, and the eventual long-term effects of nuclear war on civilization. (112 mins.)
Director: Mick Jackson
 
47.
Titan A.E. (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A young man learns that he has to find a hidden Earth ship before an enemy alien species does in order to secure the survival of humanity. (94 mins.)
 
48.
Day of Resurrection (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
After a virus devastates the global human population, survivors in Antarctica desperately try to find a cure and save the human race. (156 mins.)
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
 
49.
Waterworld (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
In a future where the polar ice-caps have melted and Earth is almost entirely submerged, a mutated mariner fights starvation and outlaw "smokers," and reluctantly helps a woman and a young girl try to find dry land. (135 mins.)
Director: Kevin Reynolds
 
50.
When the Wind Blows (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A naive elderly British rural couple survive the initial onslaught of a nuclear war. (80 mins.)
 
51.
Where Have All the People Gone (1974 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A strange series of solar flares proves fatal for inhabitants of the Earth, except for the fortunate few who are somehow immune from the effects... (74 mins.)
 
52.
Contagion (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Healthcare professionals, government officials and everyday people find themselves in the midst of a worldwide epidemic as the CDC works to find a cure. (106 mins.)
 
53.
The Island (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Lincoln Six Echo is just like everyone else - he's waiting to go to the Island, the only place left in the world to actually live a life... (136 mins.)
Director: Michael Bay
 
54.
Falling Skies (2011 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Survivors of an alien attack on earth gather together to fight for their lives and fight back. (42 mins.)
 
55.
Terra Nova (2011 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Centers on the Shannons, an ordinary family from 2149 when the planet is dying who are transported back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth where they join Terra Nova, a colony of humans with a second chance to build a civilization. (46 mins.)
 
56.
The Walking Dead (2010 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma, to learn the world is in ruins, and must lead a group of survivors to stay alive. (44 mins.)
 
57.
The Road (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In a dangerous post-apocalyptic world, an ailing father defends his son as they slowly travel to the sea. (111 mins.)
Director: John Hillcoat
 
58.
Flare: The Hunt (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Director: Dan Brown
 
59.
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
When the U.S. and Russia unwittingly test atomic bombs at the same time, it alters the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth. (99 mins.)
Director: Val Guest
 
60.
Zombieland (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, a gun-toting tough guy trying to find the last Twinkie, and a pair of sisters trying to get to an amusement park join forces to travel across a zombie-filled America. (88 mins.)
Director: Ruben Fleischer
 
61.
Survivors (2008 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An unknown virus pandemic kills more than 90% of the world's population. Those immune must strive to survive and overcome the difficulties of this new world order, hoping that the virus will not mutate. (60 mins.)
 
62.
The Divide (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Survivors of a nuclear attack are grouped together for days in the basement of their apartment building, where fear and dwindling supplies wear away at their dynamic. (112 mins.)
Director: Xavier Gens
 
63.
The Book of Eli (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind. (118 mins.)
 
64.
Jeremiah (2002 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
In a post-apocalyptic future, a deadly virus has wiped out most of humanity. The only ones who survived... (45 mins.)
 
65.
Space: Above and Beyond (1995 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The Earth is embroiled in a desperate war against alien invaders, and this series focuses on one squadron of Marine pilots involved in it. (60 mins.)
 
66.
Jericho (2006 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A small town in Kansas is literally left in the dark after seeing a mushroom cloud over near-by Denver, Colorado. The townspeople struggle to find answers about the blast and solutions on how to survive. (45 mins.)
 
67.
Pacific Rim (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse. (131 mins.)
 
68.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan. (100 mins.)
 
69.
The 100 (2014 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity's lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet. (43 mins.)
 
70.
Snowpiercer (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges. (126 mins.)
Director: Bong Joon Ho
 
71.
Cloverfield (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A group of friends venture deep into the streets of New York on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack. (85 mins.)
Director: Matt Reeves
 
72.
The Andromeda Strain (2008 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A crack team of top scientists work feverishly in a secret, state-of-the-art laboratory to discover what has killed the citizens of a small town and learn how this deadly contagion can be stopped. (174 mins.)
Director: Mikael Salomon