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12.04.2009by: Matt Withers

HORROR TEN SPOT: Top 10 Post Apocalyptic

With THE ROAD finally dropping this past weekend, and THE BOOK OF ELI on the way, it seems like the joys of a post-apocalyptic wasteland are getting some due again. And why not? You usually get something akin to a Western, but with all sorts of options for dystopic sci-fi baddies instead of just plain ole desperados and such. Pretty damn good combo.

I have to say I was surprised at how difficult it was to narrow this list down. Just a few of the early possibilities that didn't make the list are TANK GIRL, THE OMEGA MAN, SILENT RUNNING, A BOY AND HIS DOG and HARDWARE. But hell, it's been fun wrestling this down to ten.

Hope you enjoy this look back at some of our bleakest futures, and if your fav doesn't make it then don't go nuclear, just spit bullets below.

10. I AM LEGEND

My genre loving heart was pretty psyched to see a major summer release, starring the King of Nice Will Smith no less, that was so dark. I just wish they had made a whole great movie instead of 2/3's of a good movie. Still, always fun to see the aftermath of a viral apocalypse, even if the studio did f*ck up and go with the wrong ending.

9. NIGHT OF THE COMET

I distinctly remember thinking this would be funnier when I saw it. Instead we get an inexplicable decimation of most of the world's population followed by small dose hijinx before a bunch of mutated bastards start taking things down, right down to Chinatown. It's an uneven film, but great for what if discussions and features a nicely unexpected ending.

8. CYBORG

Back when JCVD was blowing up the silver screen he dropped this intense and bleak vision of misery in a wasteland on us. A nice flip in the story here is that the villain actually prefers the opportunities and environment post-apocalypse. So for once we have someone actively working against the idea of a widespread cure. Also, since Van Damme has never been what you'd call a critics darling, this film gave him a chance to trade in his metaphorical crucifixtions for a real one. Very subtle.

7. LAND OF THE DEAD

Not all apocalypses (apocalypsi?) have to be viral or nuclear. A good 'ole zombie end of days is cool too. And nobody's gotten more mileage out of that concept than the great George Romero. While LOTD isn't his best film, it is a ton of fun, and does a great job of exploring a world where people have come to terms with their new reality and made a home in it. It's bleak sure, but life does go on and you gotta find a way to adjust. I like how LOTD explores that.

6. EQUILIBRIUM

All great sci-fi, where we get most of these deadly future visions from, asks hard questions. In the case of the criminally underrated EQUILIBRIUM, the question posed is whether saving humanity is worth losing what makes us human. After WWIII nearly destroyed the world, the entire populace has their emotions drugged right out of them. Heady stuff. Oh, and there's lots of kung-fu gun fighting too. If you haven't seen this, you need to.

5. REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA

I'm glad REPO has been steadily chugging along and gaining a strong cult following, because being a fan of horror and musicals, I was obviously thrilled when this was announced, but at times felt like I was the only one. The set up is great - a mass epidemic of organ failures has forced most of the world's population to get organs on layaway or die. Of course, if you miss a payment, the organ gets repo'd, with no regard for the fact that it's still in your body. Just bloody good fun and flat Shakespearian in it's machinations.

4. THE BLOOD OF HEROES

I dare any sports fan to watch this movie and not want to become a jugger. This is the bleakest landscape since a certain famous Aussie character, and it's used in the service of one of the bloodiest, most awesome fictional sports ever conceived. And the cast? Rutger Hauer, Delroy Lindo, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Joan Chen. Yeah, awesome!

3. THE MATRIX

In the war between men and machines we don't seem to come out very well in most cases. Even though the sequels were a major let down, and a peace of sorts eventually gets worked out, this is a typical scorched earth type story, that is anything but typical. The pure visual ballsiness of this will be etched in the mind of fanboys and girls for the rest of their lives. We'd never seen anything like it. And even though some of the concepts have been used again, nothing has matched story, style and execution the way THE MATRIX did.

2. THE ROAD WARRIOR

Of the three MAD MAX films, THE ROAD WARRIOR is the strongest by far. Our ultimate lone wolf anti-hero is well developed, given a chance to do something good with his life again, and in the meantime we get lots of insane bloody action. This is a classic look at the problem with humanity. No matter the time, no matter the situation, there will always be battles over resources. Some more flamboyant than others, but people want stuff enough to kill for it, even when the world has turned to shite.

1. PLANET OF THE APES

So this is an outstanding film without the "shock" ending. That's why it launched a billion sequels (by rough count). It's a great piece of entertainment that also tackles racism, sexism, and speciesism amongst other heavy issues. Anchored by the great Charlton Heston we get an amazing film that is all the more impressive because we have no idea it's a post-apocalyptic flick until the end of the movie. Hello Statue of Liberty. We'll ignore the idiotic ending to Burton's mediocre remake.

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