Awaiting the Apocalypse with a Bowl of Popcorn

I woke up Christmas morning with a bloody eye.  No, I didn’t duke it out with the in-laws Christmas Eve.  This wasn’t a black eye.  And no, it wasn’t the webby pink of too much time spent staring at screens.  This was a big bloody splotch clouding the white just west of my iris.  While a far cry from a full on eight ball hemorrhage, something had clearly popped where things should not be popping.  I have my usual holiday cold.  One of my more vigorous coughs probably jacked my blood pressure high enough to burst a capillary.  That, or I need more fiber in my diet.  Either way, not the best of omens for the coming year.

Which brings me to today’s topic, the End of the World.  Frankly, gentle readers, I’m running out of good ones.  I could use your help finding more.

Allow me to clarify.  For the past nine years I have hosted the annual End of the World Film Festival in my living room on New Years Eve.  It started as a joke, when I insisted on watching Strange Days on New Years Eve 1999/2000.  (Don’t get the joke?  Then you need to watch the movie.)  Ever since then, I’ve been exhibiting films where civilization comes to end, has already come to end, or is at least threatening to come to an end.  The guest list is short, my TV is tiny, and I don’t even serve alcohol.  None the less, I it’s a tradition I’ve come to enjoy.  Trouble is, after nine years, I’m running out of decent movies.

That’s where you come in.  If you can think of a good End of the World movie that isn’t on the list below, I need you to tell me about it via the comment button on this page.  Please note, all suggestions should be suitable for “mixed company” as they used to say.  Meaning no gut-gnawing, no graphic sex, and no Charlton Heston.  I know this disqualifies a lot of great films, but them’s the rules, folks.

The End of the World Film Festival Roll of Horror:
1999/2000:  Strange Days
Hands down, my favorite performances by Ralph Fiennes.  Never mind the goofy sci-fi premise.  Watching Ralph agonize over his lost love, potential city destroying riots, and the state of his wardrobe is the real joy here.

2000/2001:  The Last Wave
A lawyer discovers he’s destined to destroy civilization.  Go figure.

2001/2002: Death Race 2000
The original, not the Running-Man-with-a-car remake.

2002/2003:  Reign of Fire & Slipstream
I can’t drink, but this double bill made me wish I could.

2003/2004: Last Night
A quirky black comedy with a nice cameo by David Cronenberg.

2004/2005: On the Beach
A great film, almost fatally marred by a score that consists entirely of different arrangements of “Waltzing Matilda.”  No, I am not making that up.

2005/2006: The Last Man on Earth & Nausicaä
The first screen version of the Richard Matheson classic, with Vincent Price in the roll most recently played by Will Smith, and an environmental fable from the so-called Walt Disney of Japan, Hayao Miyazaki.

2006/2007: Silent Running
Silent, except for my exasperated muttering.

2007/2008: Planet of the Apes & Invaders from Mars
Okay, I managed to sneak in one Heston flick.  The latter is a low budge prototype for Invasion of the Body Snatchers, largely a stock footage parade.

roadwarriorAnd this year?  I’m planning my first triple feature: Logan’s Run, The Road Warrior, and I Am Legend, presuming we can stand to watch them all.  After that, it’s up to you.  I’d like to keep this thing going, at least until the Mayan calendar rolls over in 2012.

I leave the End of the World in your capable hands.

Dave Hurwitz

3 Responses to “Awaiting the Apocalypse with a Bowl of Popcorn”

  1. Dave,

    You really shouldn’t discount Heston. Besides, if you’re going to do one, you have to do them all (Omega Man, and Soylent Green).

    That being said, you seem to be upping the “mixed compay” movies. Road Warrior is pretty violent. That should leave you with plenty. Here’s my list.

    Any zombie movie (but a nice low gore one would be Night of the Comet)
    The Postman
    Escape from NY
    12 Monkeys
    The Warriors
    The Andromeda Strain
    War of the Worlds

  2. The Romero zombie movies (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, and Diary of the Dead. Toss in Shaun of the Dead, too. 😉 )
    Kairo (The only existential apocalyptic horror movie I’ve ever seen…)
    Omega Man (though really should double this with I Am Legend for maximum effect…)
    Slither (alien zombie slugs, Nathan Fillion, and “Henry” from Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer…it rocks so hard!
    Donnie Darko (world almost destroyed by time paradox! freaky bunny-guy! creepiest…soundtrack…EVAR!)
    Southland Tales (just have many intoxicants handy for this one…you’ll need it)
    Serenity can be made to fit…starts with the story of humanity’s exodus from “Earth that Was,” and features the death of a whole planet’s population except for those driven to savage madness!

    That’s it for now…though I’d have to take issue with Tim’s suggestions of Escape from New York and 1984. In the former, it’s only New York (and LA, in the sequel…biggest in-joke EVER!) that has that post-apocalyptic feel. The rest of the world is supposedly dandy. And in the latter, the world (or at least the UK) is a dystopia…not over. Jus’ sayin’.

  3. There were a few good apocalypse movies in 2009 (I’m sure “2012” is leaping to most people’s minds), but I will have to recommend “Knowing,” a film that was much maligned by critics and audiences alike, but actually is possessed of a decent level of philosophical intelligence, not to mention an utterly bugnuts crazy quality – not to mention another off-the-wall performance from Nicolas Cage – that it deserves further review.

    And if hallucinatory bugnuts crazy is your bag, what future dystopia film fest would be complete without a viewing of John Boorman’s insane sci-fi acid opera “Zardoz?”

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