(1971, DIR: ROGER CORMAN)
This is the unseen, ham-fisted psychedelic gem of all postapocalyptic films. A manic, preggers Cindy Wilson plays checkerboard chick to a moody Ben Vereen (the couple that will procreate the new generation of mankind is ALWAYS mixed race in these films made after the 50s). Along with two other pillzonked hitchhiking space-cases, they’re on a road trip through a decimated America where a chemical gas killed everyone in the under 25. New America has deranged Nazi football gang-rape teams ruling Texas, violent bikers establishing communes on golf courses, and badtripping cowboys with flags and guns on horseback terrorizing love-child shanty towns. When Lucifer’s hammer really does rain down on earth, I know there’s one thing I wanna see: Edgar Allen Poe and Alfred E. Neuman riding around in a van. This film has it. Bring on the Rapture!
THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE
(1961, DIR: VAL GUEST)
The best thing about this film is the matte painting backgrounds of destroyed cities and urban areas that look like old paintings which should be put in elaborate gold frames. If any film can make London half-submerged in water look like a Thomas Kinkade painting, it’s this one. Oh, and there’s a sub-plot about some reporters who hate the liberal media. This is the sweeping, picturesque, politically-lite endof- the-world film that you and your grandparents can watch together at the nursing home. Lovely.
(1973, DIR: PETER FONDA)
A smooth-skinned, 70s teenage cast steals the show in this Peter Fonda-directed overpopulation propagandathon. Sexy kids with pert breasts and firm young asses go back and forth through time in a really weird looking time machine (which they have to strip down to their underwear to ride on, did I mention that?). After man’s selfishness has turned the planet into a spooky wasteland that has ambient synth music constantly playing in the background, these virile, ravishing kids try and study the future to save the present. Then of course it all goes horribly wrong and they all start bashing each other’s heads in with rocks. Oh... mankind, you nut!
PANIC IN THE YEAR ZERO
(1962, DIR: RAY MILLAND)
Worth it alone to see Ray Milland and his goody-goody 50s family rob a convenience store at gunpoint and beat the owner. Atomic bombs have destroyed every major city on the planet, and survivors must head to the hills to duke it out for food and shelter. The families who own RVs (and just happen to be in them at the time) live like royalty, and those that don’t are demoted to cave dwelling. That is, until the class war! But oops—the RV owners are also the type to own guns, and the cave-dwellers can only throw rocks and potatoes. NRA fanatics will love this movie too for obvious reasons. Oh, and also RV lovers.
THE QUIET EARTH
(1985, DIR: GEOFF MURPHY)
The entire film is worth it just to see the main character go through the stage that everyone goes through when they discover they’re the last person alive on earth. You know where you go temporarily shouty-crackers-bonkoid before you calm down and realize you’ve got to get organized? At one point he ends up wearing dirty women’s lingerie he stole off a mannequin, drunkenly crashing a tractor into empty buildings with a bottle of bourbon in one hand and shouting, “Why!? Whhhyyy am I God!?!?” But we’ve all been there. He eventually gets his act together and resigns himself to being the last of mankind, but wait... is he? Blah, blah, blah, you know the rest...
NIGHT OF THE COMET
(1984, DIR: THOM EBERHART)
If Nutrasweet 80s glint is still your thing, you’ll love this twohour rock video about two lipglossed gals who are the last survivors on earth—trapped in the desolate Los Angeles area after a comet turns everybody else to orange dust. Oh, except for a few roaming zombies who eat the brains of girls who live in the Valley and get gagged by spoons. The film has the requisite hey-we-can-take-whatever- we-want-from-the-deserted-mall scene done in shopping-spree montage style, set to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Uuh... did that mannequin’s eyes just move? Uh-oh!
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH
(1964, DIR: UBALDO RAGONA)
Vincent Price in a great performance as Morgan, the last ma... oh yeah you just saw the title. Lots of “inner-dialogue” as he struggles in the day-to-day mundane task of keeping his boarded-up home safe from roaming zombies who come out only at night and hate mirrors. It was filmed in Italy, so lots of the zombies are played by sexy, sweaty Italian girls who already have that weird dark circles thing going on around their eyes, which on blackand- white film looks like the real thing (no need for makeup!).
LAST WOMAN ON EARTH
(1960, DIR: ROGER CORMAN)
A snobbish rich couple scuba diving in Puerto Rico surface and realize an inexplicable, temporary depletion of oxygen worldwide has suffocated everyone on the planet—except them! They’d be the new Adam and Eve (white and rich!) if they hadn’t also brought along another man, and it’s their lawyer—oops! The two men duke it out while the last labia in the universe sits around looking blond and blase. These people are remarkable calm for most of the story, considering their situation. Typical Corman, grade-B stuff.
DAWN OF THE DEAD
(1978, DIR: GEORGE ROMERO)
What’s to say? Perfection. It’s a vomikaleidoscope of awesomeness that you can scream and laugh all the way through again and again. Real action, real scary, real gross, real funny; zombies bumping around a mall to canned elevator music, suicide suspense, helicopter lobotomies, a fat hippie biker getting disemboweled alive because he spent too much time on a blood-pressure machine, a blue inner-city family son taking a scream-tastic bite out of his mom’s shoulder—that scene is still so amazing! Masterpiece! Masterpiece! Masterpiece! Bow down to the God of all postapocalyptic zombie movies! Kiss its feet! Now take a little bite of one of it’s toes.
THE DAY AFTER
(1983, DIR: NICHOLAS MEYER)
This is the worst postapocalyptic film ever made. One thousand hours of seriously awful made-for-TV Cold War tedium. I remember as a little kid when this aired on TV (which the producers hyped up into a kind of national holiday of doom that was supposed to “wake up America” to the nuclear threat). President Reagan made a public address immediately afterward saying that he’d seen it and was so moved by the images he was meeting with world leaders to try and rectify blah, blah... ugh. The day after The Day After aired? The arms race (surprise!) was back up to full speed! One of the most stupific, dunder-brained and boobheaded films on the subject ever made. A sign of its time.
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VICE Guide to the Apocalypse