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┬áinclude 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.

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.┬áInspired 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?