Mother Brainâ€™s Top 5 End of the World Movies
By Mother Brain
So lately thereâ€™s a lot of what I call â€œhypeâ€ about the end of the world coming Saturday, May 21. Then itâ€™s also long been said that the end is coming in 2012. I personally prefer the â€œbuy a drink and follow the alien into the Paramus Holiday Inn hotel room to be told about the end of the worldâ€ theory from Ghostbusters II. At least that sounds plausible. So for kicks to â€œcommemorateâ€ this dreary occasion, hereâ€™s my top 5 end of the world movies:
5) The Day After (1983)
Itâ€™s a little known made for TV movie that aired on ABC under the direction of Star Trek IIâ€™s Nicholas Meyer. The film graphically depicts a group of people in eastern Kansas who survive a disastrous nuclear blast. Back then and even to this day, itâ€™s arguably more disturbing than any Roland Emmerich flick depicting the end of the world because the film is devoid of any hope. Once the explosion happens, the second half of the film shows how the survivors begin to suffer from radiation exposure as well as turn against each other in a state of panic. It features some stand-out performances from Jason Robards as a doctor struggling to reconnect with his missing daughter and a pre-Police Academy Steve Guttenberg as a med student who bonds with a farm family after taking shelter in their barn. Very downbeat film overall.
4) Donnie Darko (2001)
Iâ€™d be crazy to explain this movie coherently. All I can say is that the title character played by Jake Gyllenhaal has visions of a rabbit mask wearing man named Frank telling him that the world will end… in October 1988. What follows over the course of the film is Donnieâ€™s encounters with various characters in his life who are affected in different ways as well as Donnieâ€™s fascination with time travel reaching big extremes that lead (and alter) his fate. While director Richard Kelly has gone on to make terrible films since then, Donnie Darko was his most tolerable work due to its colorful mixture of characters and a story that reads like a good page-turning novel.
3) Ghostbusters (1984)
Being my favorite film of all time, it just had to be included in this list because of itâ€™s apocalyptic theme. Like Independence Day where the world gets saved by a black air force pilot, a Jewish cable operator/computer wiz, and a southern drunk crop duster pilot, Ghostbusters takes pride in having smart but down on their luck scientists combat with the supernatural with their proton packs. While it has a tendency to be considered a comedy due to the talents of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and others, I always considered the film to have a mix of every genre including action, suspense, science-fiction, romance, and even soft-core porn if you count the Ray Stantz bedroom scene during the montage. But it all builds up to the big climax where the Ghostbusters have their showdown with the evil Gozer who looks to destroy the world… with a life-sized marshmallow man! If the worldâ€™s going to end, at least put a smile and a sailor hat on the grim reaper.
2) Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Everyone knows this classic installment of James Cameronâ€™s Terminator franchise. Unlike the original and the installments that followed it, T2 really hit home the concept of â€œno fate for what we makeâ€. When you look outside the intense action sequences and the groundbreaking visual effects of the T-1000, thereâ€™s a truly social statement to make about war being part of our human nature and how trying to stop violence only makes us as soulless as the enemy (i.e. Skynet). Also what starts out as a rehash of the first film with 2 beings from the future coming to the present to follow their mission objectives suddenly swerves into a much bigger mission as the Arnold Schwarzenegger T-800 Terminator, Sarah and John Connor seek out to destroy Cyberdyne Systems in hopes of preventing the future war with Skynet. Always nice to have an action movie where you care about characters saving the world… and have tons of explosions.
1) John Carpenterâ€™s The Thing (1982)
This was the first of John Carpenterâ€™s doomsday-themed movies followed by Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness. What appears to be an alien invasion/body snatchers story ultimately becomes a social claustrophobic thriller with 12 guys in an Arctic outpost who cannot trust each other. The imitating creature (which was said in the film could assimilate the world population in a 3 year period) was mentioned by many film critics at the time as a metaphor for AIDS because of the lack of a cure and the way in which it spreads unknowingly. So like many great end of the world stories, itâ€™s every man for himself trying to survive until thereâ€™s no more threat. Of course with this film, thatâ€™s not the case. With Carpenterâ€™s brilliant direction, the strong performances of Kurt Russell and the rest of the cast as well as Rob Bottinâ€™s creepy makeup and visual effects, The Thing keeps you tingling at the edge of your seat.