Best apocalyptic and post apocalyptic movies and TV series (part 1)

First of all, I’d like to set the score straight and make a clear distinction between dystopia and post apocalypse, because apparently a lot of people mistake the two. Dystopia deals with issues that emerge from a society that has gone wrong but carries on. It could deal with social dynamics or other related issues, but society still exists and so does civilisation.

Apocalypse and post apocalypse have the end of the world and the end of civilisation at their core and the difficulties the main characters have to face to survive in those worlds. The difference between the two is that apocalyptic scenarios show the end of the world as it’s happening and how this affects the lives of people. Also, the conflict these people face between what is morally accepted (remember, civilisation is collapsing, but it hasn’t gone completely). On the other hand, post apocalypse deals with the aftermath of the apocalypse. That may include new social dynamics (if any) and often the complete lack of a moral code. One key element is the often bleak and desolate state of the world (meaning the cities) after the end has come. To a certain extent (and depending on how the story evolves and what the focus of the story is) this version of post apocalypse may include dystopian elements in it.

So, now that we are clear about the difference, below is a list of movies and some TV shows that are apocalyptic or post apocalyptic. The list is focused on the movies and shows that stood out for me. By no means does it mean it’s complete.

Be warned, some of the movies include gore and splatter. Where applicable, and depending on how I perceive something as containing extensive gore or not (very subjective), I’ll note it, but understand that this is only personal preference. If you’re sensitive about this, read some of the reviews first or watch the trailer to get an idea of the feel and mood of the movie before you start watching it.

The movies are in no particular order other than the way they came to my mind.

Book of Eli (2010)

The movie takes place in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that turned the planet into a wasteland. The main hero carries with him a book that can save what’s left of humanity, and goes west to a supposedly safe location to deliver said book. Watch the movie for its post apocalyptic scenery. Watch it for Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. Watch it for the twist in Eli’s story. Watch it if you love post apocalyptic settings. Hardly any gore involved, if my memory serves me.

Buy it from Amazon


The postman (1997)

The movie (like others in this list) is based on the 1985 novel by David Brin, The Postman. In the movie, the apocalypse happened as a result of various consecutive apocalyptic events (societal breakdown, wars, plagues) which eventually destroyed most of the technology that existed up to that point. The main hero accidentaly stumbles upon the uniform of a postman and his vehicle, and as he drifts across the wasteland, he starts inspiring those he meets with the promise of a Reformed United States of America. Watch it if you enjoy Kevin Costner’s movies. I believe Tom Petty appears in the movie too. Watch it, because wasteland + post apocalypse = awesome. Don’t expect to see the best movie ever, though. Hardly any gore involved.

Buy it from Amazon


Waterworld (1995)

Set in the distant future, this post apocalyptic movie deals with the issue of the melting polar ice caps. Most of the planet’s land mass is underwater, and our main hero drifts the oceans on his boat. At some point he has to save a girl and her guardian, because the girl has a map tattooed on her back that supposedly leads to dry land. Watch it if you’re a Kevin Costner fan. Watch it because Dennis Hopper is always an awesome actor. Like the postman, don’t expect to see a masterpiece. Personally, I prefer the dry wasteland setting than the wet equivalent. Hardly any gore involved.

Buy it from Amazon


The 100 (2014-still on air as of this writing)

This post apocalyptic TV show is based on the novel series, The 100, by Kass Morgan. Set approximately a century after a nuclear holocaust ravaged Earth and destroyed all human civilisation, the remaining humanity has survived on a massive space station that has been in orbit since. But the station is in a bad condition and, given the severity of the rules that have been imposed on the survivors, those in charge send 100 young individuals (with some authority issues) on the planet in an attempt to repopulate the planet and of course get rid of them. What these one hundred youths find down there is something no one has expected.

Watch it because the characters are actually well-fleshed. Watch it because despite what you may think, it’s actually quite gritty and the characters have often a lot of hard choices to make. Lots of people die, but not in the scale of GoT. Despite that, you never know which one of the leading characters will meet a tragic ending at some point. What I don’t like about the show is how they expected 100 individuals to be enough to repopulate Earth. If you’re into biology, please comment and tell us if 100 people are enough as a Minimum Viable Population for the human species to survive. Not much gore involved in this show.

Watch it on Netflix


Mad max 2 (1981) aka Road Warrior

Am I the only one who thinks this movie set the standard for post apocalypse and wastelands? As far as I’m concerned, Mad Max 2 is the best of the entire franchise. Set in the not too distant future, civilisation has pretty much vanished. One lone drifter and hardened survivor, constantly fighting for his life and surviving at any cost, rediscovers (in a way) his lost humanity by helping the residents of a small settlement against a band of rather fearsome and bloodthirsty raiders. Watch it if you like to see how much the post apocalyptic genre has evolved over the years. Watch it because it’s a good movie, and because it’s Mad Max. Expect to see violence, but nothing over the top.

Buy it from Amazon


The road (2009)

One of the two movies here that show the absolute desolation of an apocalyptic or post apocalyptic world in the best way possible. Based on the post apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarty (2006), The Road explores the strong bonds between a father and his son as they make their way south through a desolate wasteland in search of warmer climate. The reason for the apocalypse is never fully explained, but the situation is bad and hopeless enough for the heroes to have to carry a gun with two bullets; one for each. Together, they have to go through starvation, cannibals, thieves, and other bad characters, but the most important thing about this movie is that it often questions who the bad people are and how blurry the lines between good and evil can be. Watch it because it’s an amazing movie. Watch it because it captures the desolation and human depravity in situations like these. While you’re at it, read the book! It’s just as good (if not better), and one of the books that influenced me while writing The Darkening, my post apocalyptic horror novel. Not much gore in this movie, but don’t be surprised if you cry at some points.

Buy it from Amazon


Mad Max 1 (1979)

The second best Mad Max movie (in my humble opinion), Mad Max 1 shows the early stages of the fall of human civilisation, so unlike the second instalment where everything has been destroyed, this movie shows that there are still some leftovers (police, houses, moral code etc) of what one could attribute to be the foundations of any civilisation. Vengeance is the prevalent theme of this apocalyptic movie, and if seeing a fictional character going on a killing spree is not your cup of tea, then be advised. Nothing excessively graphic or anything like that, but don’t expect the movie to be all about happy endings and superficial injuries. Also, keep in mind that this was a very low budget Australian film, so don’t expect fancy graphics and special effects.

Buy it from Amazon


The Rover (2014)

This apocalyptic movie has gone relatively unnoticed, even though it was nominated for a few awards (not Academy Awards). The setting is the aftermath of a global economic collapse and shares a couple of things with Mad Max. First, it’s also an Australian film, and second it deals a lot with road rage and revenge. The main hero, after having his last possession stolen (his car), pursues the men who took it. He manages to capture of the thieves’ brother and together they progress through a rather dangerous journey, despite the uneasy bond and conflict between them. The movie has plenty of violence.

Buy it from Amazon


Stay tuned for part 2 with more movies and TV shows.

Best wishes for Christmas

I want to wish you all a happy holiday and Merry Christmas! Whatever you do, I hope you get to spend the festive period surrounded by the people you love and love you, doing all the things that give meaning to your lives!!

And myself?

I’ll be spending it with my family, trying hard to relax and stressing as little as possible with work related things.

I have noticed a serious decline in my productivity the past few months, which I believe is a direct result of me working non-stop for the past 3-4 years (including summers). My prediction for 2019 is that it will be a difficult and stressful year for me, so I have decided to take some much needed vacation. The plan is to abstain from all writing activities from Christmas day (which is also my nameday, so if you remember to wish me Happy Nameday, I will respond with a thank you message) until January 2, or January 6 (depending on how fast my internal batteries will recharge).

Whatever you do, however you do it, have fun and enjoy yourselves!

10 things you’ll need to survive the apocalypse

It’s been a month since my debut post-apocalyptic horror novel, The Darkening, hit the electronic and physical shelves (you can check it out here and here), and I’ve been looking into things that one should do to survive an apocalyptic event. Now, a few months back, I wrote a list with the 10 post apocalyptic scenarios most possible to happen. Inspired from these, I thought I should come up with a list of things one should do to be prepared for such an event.

Please note, though I have written a post apocalyptic novel, that does not mean I am a prepper, or that I have done or tried any of the following things. So don’t take my word for any of these. You see, I’m more like this:

Keep in mind that everything depends on the type of the apocalypse you’ll be dealing with, however, there are a few things that will prove helpful no matter what the scenario is. With the following list, I tried to take into account as many different scenarios as possible.

1. A satchel or backpack

Imagine this: something catastrophic happened a couple of days ago on the other side of the planet. The effects spread rapidly and are not too far away from where you live. Others have seen it too and are acting accordingly.

The local infrastructure is already ruined because… panic, and from whatever the effects of the apocalypse may be. You’re going to have to leave, but you should take some items with you. No, grocery store bags are not ideal for something like this. You need something to carry your gear, and it had better be something that will last you a long time. Bug out bags, as they’re often called, are lightweight and can carry provisions and items that you will need for the first couple of days. Some of them come pre-stocked with items like water purification tablets and other useful items. Make sure you keep it somewhere handy, and that its provisions have not expired.

2. Knife

This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Skin your food, hunt, or defend yourself out there. In an apocalyptic scenario, you’re not going to be the only survivor (hopefully). However, usually, when things get really ugly and resources necessary for survival become too scarce, people tend to look after themselves. Survival instincts and desperation kicks in. What you have and I don’t, I can try taking it from you. So make sure you keep your knife sharp.

3. Stormproof matches

I don’t know about you, but I suck at lighting fires. And I don’t mean trying to light a fire out there in the wilderness (Chris and the wild don’t mix together, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post). I’m talking about trying to get a fire going in a fireplace. If you’re like me, and for some reason you have yet to master evolutionary basics, like getting a fire going in a warm, summer day for a barbecue, imagine how much harder it will be to light a fire when it’s raining outside your shelter, you’re miserable, cold, and drenched to the bone from hunting the foul beast of Caerbannog in the rain.

Your hands are shaking. You strike the match, and just as it lights up, a gust of wind puts it out. Meanwhile, you’re still freezing, and you’re also one match shorter than before. Still no fire. Bet now you wish you had bought stormproof matches, huh?

4. Flint and steel

Eventually your stormproof matches will run out. Then what? Well, time to go old school. Flint and steel. I’ll leave the pros do the talking for this one, so watch the videos and mimic them.

If you want to know more about how to start a fire, you can check this site out. Please don’t do it in the middle of forests or in your homes, m’kay? This knowledge should only be used in case of emergency.

5. Flashlight

We take electricity for granted nowadays. Just over a century and a half ago, in some places, the streets at night were dark, and unless the sky was clear and the moon big enough to shine, you couldn’t see where you were going. Modern power grid requires constant monitoring and maintenance, so if an apocalyptic situation occurs and civilisation collapses around you, the power will be one of the first things to go. And if the scenario forces you to leave the city (assuming you live in one), you’re going to have to see where you’re going in order to avoid falling and breaking a bone. Make sure you have plenty of batteries with you, but bear in mind that they won’t last you forever. For that you may want to consider a solar-powered flashlight.

6. A compass

– Does it need batteries?
– No.
– Good. Will it save my life?
– Yes.
– Approved!

Seriously, if you have to travel and you’re miles away from any roads, or even if you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, a compass will save your life, provided you know the relative location of wherever it is you wish to go to with respect to your current general location (in other words, “I’m in Pennsylvania and I want to go to Florida. Florida is south of where I am now”). The only chance a compass will fail you, is if you fail yourself and mistake north for south, or if something happens to the Earth’s magnetic poles. Of course in the case of the Earth’s magnetic poles disappearing, going in the wrong direction would be the least of your worries…

7. First aid kit

Regardless of the apocalyptic scenario, if you’re one of the survivors, your primary objective is to keep yourself safe. Yes, our bodies can cope with a lot of things, but would you be willing to test your limits during an apocalypse? Potentially, even a scrape from a rusty piece of metal can be fatal, so do make sure you have a handy first aid kit with you. And keep it safe. Even if you’re Superman in disguise and viruses and diseases run away from you in terror, you can always use it to barter for something you don’t have. Not that I advise you to trade away your medical supplies.

8. Hard Currency

Speaking of bartering, remember the time when banks and politicians created money out of nothing and gave us all thin plastic cards that supposedly represented equal value to hard currency, like gold? Now let’s imagine a situation where the world’s banking system has collapsed. Power and telecommunications are also no more, so no internet or electricity. And you need food and water. Lucky you, there’s a store across the street with a couple of walking mountains-for-guards keeping an eye on things, that still has some food. Of course prices will be inflated, but who cares? You have your mighty plastic card! Gold or platinum coloured!

When was the last time you tried trading plastic strips (with fancy colours) for food or water or anything valuable? Mine was in kindergarten or maybe early elementary years. So, do consider grabbing and holding onto some hard currency. Gold, silver, jewels. Things you can actually barter with. Depending on the crisis at hand, food, water, or antibiotics may be even more precious than gold and silver. While we’re looking at alternative forms of currency, and if the apocalypse allows it, consider seeds from plants that bear fruits. Preferably not from genetically modified plants, since seeds from most of these cannot grow after a couple of harvests.

9. Warm and sturdy clothes

Imagine surviving whatever apocalypse befell the world, only to succumb to a cold or hypothermia. That would really suck. So, the next time you go to a shopping spree to buy the latest awesome and fashionable clothes, you may want to consider adding something less fashionable but more durable and warm.

 

Honourable mention

10. Guns

Yeah, that also goes without saying, however, how long will it be practical for? Assuming the apocalypse at hand is here to stay for the foreseeable future, how many bullets will you be able to carry around? And how much weight will that add to your backpack? What will you do with the gun once you have no more bullets? Throw it at the enemy? Maybe, if it’s heavy and reliable.

And there you have it, folks. Now, I tried my best to take something grim that potentially could scare a lot of people, and turn it into an enjoyable read. A lot of people take the end of the world seriously. Even if the end never comes during our lifetime, it’s always best to be prepared, right?

ARC readers needed

For a little over a month now, I’ve been trying to build an ARC team for my debut novel, The Darkening. If you’re unfamiliar with the term ARC, it’s an acronym that stands for Advanced Review/Reader Copy. What this means is that an interested party receives a copy of the book (in this case, a digital copy) in the hopes that he/she will be willing to review the book when it launches, regardless of the review being positive or negative.

It’s not easy. I’m going about it the hard way. That is, I scour the internet for book bloggers and reviewers, looking for those who would be willing to consider my book for a review. For those who enjoy reading horror and post apocalypse. When done like this, it’s incredibly time consuming. But when someone starts out and doesn’t have a strong fan base, I think it’s unavoidable.

In order for a book and its author to compete with the big names of traditional and self publishing, authors with thousands of fans who hit the bestseller lists almost on day one, it’s crucial for the book to come out with as many reviews as possible on release day.

Though I haven’t checked my browser’s history, I know that each day since I started building the ARC team, I visit more than a hundred book bloggers’ sites. There were a few days where I found a list of two hundred of them, and I went through it in one day.

Cartoon of man with messy hair, bags below bloodshot eyes, and stubble on face and chin

Yeah, that’s me after all the searching is done, minus the hair, plus the exhaustion from the heat (go away summer, I’ve had enough of you).

So this post is a call for ARC readers. Does any of you enjoy reading post apocalypse and horror? Here are the book’s details.

 

Title: The Darkening (standalone book)
Genre: Post-apocalyptic horror
Available format: epub, mobi (pdf upon request)
Release date: Sunday, 28 October 2018
Trigger Warning: mention of dead animals and humans. Moderate violence.
Audience: Adult
Similar books (in terms of mood): The Road (Cormac McCarthy), Children Of Men (P. D. James).
Excerpt: Available upon request.

Description: Don’t fear the dark. Fear the light.

The end came when light changed. It decimated humanity, leaving scattered bands of survivors stumbling in the dark.

Faced with saving himself or his family during the apocalypse, John Piscus made the wrong choice, and has been living with the guilt ever since.

When a glowing girl shows up at John’s shelter begging for help, his instincts tell him to kill her. After all, light kills.

But when masked troopers tasked with capturing survivors come after them, it’s up to John to protect himself and the girl. Not only may she hold the key to reversing the lethal effects of light, she could also be the one who can save his soul.

———————

The book’s launch is scheduled for the 28th of October. I can only hope that, should you decide to join my ARC team, there will be enough time for you to read it before that date. When I started building the team, I thought it would take me a month, perhaps a little more than that, to assemble a group of about fifty (brave) readers. Alas, this newbie was wrong.

If any of you wants to receive an ARC, please use the site’s contact form, or post a reply here with your email, or tweet me (@c_sarantopoulos), or message me on Facebook. I welcome all reviews, both positive and negative.

Thank you!

Book Tag

I got the idea for this Book Tag from Kevin Hurtak’s blog and thought it might be interesting to get to know me a little better. Also it seemed like fun, so here goes.

 

E-Book or Physical Book?

Definitely physical. HOWEVER, since I have no space to put my books (those currently owned as well as those I hope to own), I have to concede and tolerate using ebooks. I’m not happy about it though.

 

Paperback or Hardback?

I have a few hardbacks, but I really like paperbacks. Especially the ones that are no bigger than 4×7 inches. Pocket-sized books. You can take them with you wherever you like.

 

Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Online to be honest. I have a really hard time trying to read the spines from books. Also, since I’m a short guy, craning my neck back to get a vague glimpse of books packed tightly in shelves that are 6 and 7 feet high gives me a headache. Not to mention they are always so tightly packed (crammed, to be more precise) that is impossible to take them out and flip through them. I’m not even going into how hard it is to put them back. On the other hand, you can’t meet and chat to people in an online store.

 

Trilogies or Series?

A few years back, I would have said series. Now it’s more standalones. Don’t get me wrong, I recently finished reading a scifi series (finished, because the next book comes out in 2019, I think, so bummer). It’s hard for me to take the leap of faith any more. I blame writing for this. It has ruined reading for me in so many ways. I can’t read a book without trying to edit it. It sucks! So for the most part the order is standalones, trilogies, and at the very end, series. But the distance between standalones and trilogies is vast.

 

Heroes or Villains?

I don’t care really. I do enjoy reading the occasional villain who actually wins, but it all comes down to whether or not the character is well developed. By well developed, I mean realistic. That’s why I have loved reading A Song Of Ice And Fire (Game of Thrones); the characters behave in a realistic way. And because Martin realises there are more bad things happening in life than good. Thus, his characters end up missing their heads. But no preference whatsoever.

 

A book you want everyone to read?

Disclaimer: shameless plug follows *clears throat* MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE…
Seriously, though, for writers, I think Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is a book everyone should read. As for readers, this question is impossible to answer. One person likes one genre, the other likes a different. Scifi lovers, read Altered Carbon (the whole trilogy – each book is pretty much stand-alone). And my book. Horror fans, read It. And my book and my short stories.

 

Recommend an underrated book?

Before I started writing, I was introduced to R. Scott Bakker’s fantasy work. If you like dark fantasy, settings and scenarios that are based on real history, and you like or don’t mind reading philosophy, I suggest you read The Second Apocalypse series (yeah, I know I said I don’t read series, but that was before I started writing. Back then I devoured them).

 

The last book you bought?

The one I’m currently reading, Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

 

Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark?

Cable. Really thin one. No, you may not ask for more details on that.

Used Books: Yes or No?

No. I like the book I’m holding to be in pristine condition. Mintier than mint. My heart sinks a little when I get a paperback that has even the slightest (I mean negligible) sign of frayed corners. Of course that doesn’t mean that the book stays as pristine once in my possession. I’m a bit weird in this: I can’t stand having a book with bent or frayed corners (I protect my books like treasure), but I also can’t stand reading a book where the spine hasn’t been popped wide open. I know it’s weird. When I open the book and place it on a table I want to see the pages stay flat. I can’t stand having pages rising. It literally drives me nuts. So I make sure I open the spine as wide as it takes, without destroying it. I told you I’m weird.

Top three favourite genres?

Cyberpunk, Horror, Fantasy.

 

Borrow or Buy?

Buy. Look at my answers for Used Books: Yes or No for a more detailed explanation. I want to have a mint-condition book in my hands. Not to mention that it helps the writer 😉

 

Characters or Plot?

Characters interesting enough to drive the plot forward through their actions. If that’s not possible because the genre tropes don’t allow that, then plot. The key element for me is plot.

Long or Short Books?

I’ve read books that were over 1000 pages long and I’ve read books that barely reached 150. I have liked and hated books on both ends of the length spectrum. What I don’t like are books that end up showing me things and events that are completely unrelated to the main plot, or are not interesting enough to make up for the lack of relation to the plot. A very well-known fantasy writer comes to mind with his highly acclaimed fantasy trilogy that so far features only two books (hint: I’ll probably be eighty by the time he releases book 3), but I will not name him. The prose in book 1 was perfect. I mean, exquisite prose. BUT, the stuff that happened from a few chapters before the middle all the way to a couple of chapters before the end were a waste of paper. They were completely unrelated to the plot, in my humble opinion they didn’t develop the character at all, and as such they should have been deleted.

 

Long or Short Chapters?

I don’t mind. Whatever works for the story and pacing.

 

Name the first three books you can think of

Bag of Bones (Stephen King), Game of Thrones (G. R. R. Martin), Altered Carbon (Richard K. Morgan).

 

Books that make you laugh or cry?

I don’t like reading comedy, and I also don’t like crying. So I’ll just say the same old thing: as long as it creates the necessary emotional connection, it’s fine.

Our World or Fictional Worlds?

As a tourist, a visitor of sorts, I wouldn’t mind fictional worlds.

Audio books: Yes or No?

I’ve only listened to one and I can safely say they’re not for me. I like taking notes on things that interest me during my read, so audio books are not ideal for me.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Of course! Who doesn’t? That’s why we have sayings like, don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s because people do it, and it’s perfectly all right to do it. Why should I be an exception to that? I said I’m weird, but not that weird.

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

I quite enjoyed watching The Children of Men rather than reading it. Still, the book was good, but I think the movie was better. Much bleaker, which is what you want and expect in an apocalyptic book.

How about you? How would you answer these questions? Feel free to tell me in the comments or consider yourself tagged and do your own version of the post.