The End of the World’s Greatest Hits
Last week at this time, I was fearing impossible scenarios that could arise from Chicago’s hosting of the NATO summit. That’s not surprising for me: the apocalypse seems to be a common theme in the entertainment I consume.
I started to think about all the different end-of-the-world things I enjoy and put together a starter list for your armageddon-themed entertainment. This list is in no way meant to be exhaustive–if you have additions, let me know!
Time Zone “World Destruction”
Afrika Bambaataa and John Lydon teamed up to list the reasons why we’re all pretty much fucked.
“Mother Nature is gonna work against you / Nothing in your power that you can do.”
Morrissey “Everyday is Like Sunday”
“Armageddon – come armageddon! Come, armageddon! Come!”
To paraphrase: “Bring it, bitch!”
Iron Maiden “2 Minutes to Midnight”
Legendary metallers synchronize their watches with the Doomsday Clock:
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Forget the Will Smith movie–this desperate, lonely, nailbiter about a vampire apocalypse is a quick and unforgettable read. George Romero even acknowledged its influence on Night of the Living Dead (I’m getting to that one in a few).
If books aren’t your thing, the movie looks like this:
World War Z by Max Brooks
Brilliant idea–take a zombie apocalypse and have the story told, oral history-style, by its survivors. Brooks took the concept from Studs Terkel’s The Good War.
The Stand by Stephen King
The Stand isn’t perfect, and it’s not even King’s best book (I prefer It and Carrie). However, the post-superflu world King created–and the good vs. evil story he tells–are as good as post-apocalyptic fiction gets.
In all seriousness, this is my favorite movie ever. Terry Gilliam directed this sci-fi masterpiece that brings together a world-ending virus, time travel, Bruce Willis, an early Brad Pitt performance, and monkeys.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Not far behind 12 Monkeys is my love for this 1978 remake of the 1956 horror film (which itself was based on a book). I’ve been told that this movie’s one big allegory, and I couldn’t give less of a shit about that. The bottom line is that this is a tense, creepy, flick with knockout performances from Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy.
Spoiler warning: this is the end of the movie. It’s awesome.
28 Weeks Later
I prefer this to its predecessor, 28 Days Later. The best of the modern-day zombie movies, in my opinion:
Night of the Living Dead
There is nothing–nothing–I can say about this b&w classic that hasn’t already been said.
Fail Safe (1964)
The television play remake in ’00 was pretty great, too, but this version resonates more. It’s the U.S. vs. Russia, during one of the Cold War’s most tense peaks:
I remember watching this one with my parents when it came out–generally the same time when the world was buzzing about The Day After. Testament takes a sobering, more personal, look at the devastating aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. No embeds allowed; click here to see one of the film’s early distressing moments.
Jack Kirby’s Kamandi tells the story of “The Last Boy on Earth,” living in a post-apocalyptic (the Great Disaster) world. Every page during Kirby’s run screams of invention and insanity, as the titular boy finds his way in a world run by highly-evolved animals. The first 20 issues are collected here.
Also recommended: The Walking Dead, Y: the Last Man, Wasteland, Deathlok.
At some point down the road, I’ll cover Dystopia’s Greatest Hits (another favorite of mine).