Entertainment Today and Beyond

Never Met a Zombi I Didn’t Like…

CHUCK CURRY’S TOP TEN POST APOCOLYPTIC FILMS

As The Book of Eli (Denzel Washington) opens this weekend and The Road is on the way later this year, it appears that the end of the world continues to have a fascination with MiracletheatricalHollywood filmmakers. Here’s a look at my top ten favorite films in this very interesting genre which I happen to be a big fan of.

10. MIRACLE MILE 1988- This one has a really great concept about a guy (Anthony Edwards) who picks up a ringing pay phone in the early morning hours and finds out that nuclear missiles could be on the way to Los Angeles in the next 70 minutes. This causes him to search frantically for a girl (Mare Winningham) he just met the morning before. This one is suspenseful with really good atmosphere. It also Testament1983featured a really COOL soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. While not successful on its release, the film has built a following over the years and is a great watch on DVD. The film’s last 20 minutes are as gripping as a movie can be and truly justifies the end of the world concept.

9. TESTAMENT 1983- Jane Alexander (one of our greatest actresses) stars in this powerful film about a family who tries to survive a nuclear attack that has destroyed nearby San Francisco and most of the cities in the United States. Her family (who live in a small town outside of SF) and the town try and cope with the isolation from the outside world and radiation sickness while trying to get back some essence of normalcy. As the story proceeds most of the town succumbs to radiation sickness and the few survivors try to carry on the best they can. This is an end of the world film Dayofthetriffids-movierealistically told that pulls absolutely no punches. Be prepared to be emotionally drained after watching it.

8. THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS 1962- Post apocalyptic Sci- fi film about a meteor shower that not only renders the world’s population blind but causes plant life to uproot and kill most of the population of London where the story takes place. Howard Keel (Dallas) stars in the film as one of the few people left who can see. I first saw this movie when I was a kid on a local station’s Saturday afternoon broadcast and liked it immensely. There’s a scene at a train station that is really well staged and creepy with mass chaos ensuing because no one can see except the film’s hero and a little girl. It’s one of the film’s best sequences. There’s been talk of a remake for years but so far it’s never materialized. This is the type of film that they just don’t produce anymore.
 
day-of-the-dead-bub7. DAY OF THE DEAD 1985- Romero’s third entry in his dead trilogy, DAY OF THE DEAD, was released to mixed/negative reviews as many complained the film, set mostly in an underground army base, was too slow, talky and depressing. Its main theme of scientists versus the military wasn’t nearly as epic as his much bigger in scope Dawn of the Dead, which sort of took fans by surprise. Over the years many have come to appreciate the film as a solid entry in his original trilogy and Romero himself regards it as his favorite. While Dawn remains my personal favorite, I’ve always liked Day a lot, and think it’s a fascinating film. Its Mad_max_two_the_road_warriohas a very bleak vision with one over the top character in Capt Rhodes (Joe Pilato), but that’s offset by an exilarating last 20 minutes. It also features the best musical score of Romero’s end of the world zombie trilogy.

6. THE ROAD WARRIOR 1981- George Miller’s sequel to Mad Max (Mel Gibson) features the most astonishing stunt work ever put on film. In a pre-CGI era some of the stuff Miller puts on screen is truly amazing. This post apocalyptic story, which plays out like a wild over the top road movie, is both visionary and truly unique!

omega_man5. THE OMEGA MAN 1971- Charlton Heston stars in this second film version of the cult novel “I am Legend”. While not totally faithful to the source material, the film is compelling with Heston playing Robert Neville, the last man on earth after germ warfare has wiped out mankind. His death sequence at the hands of a sphere thrown by the movies villain, Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), near the film’s conclusion is an absolute classic. The musical score by composer Ron Grainer is totally unique and enjoyable. When watching the film carefully it’s interesting to see a few people in the background in some of the wide shots of Los Angeles despite the fact that the storyline had ThedayafterHeston as the only surviving person at that point in the story. The Omega Man is one of my all time favorites movies.

4. THE DAY AFTER 1985- Perhaps the most important Television film ever made. Jason Robards brought tremendous class to this project about the after effects of a nuclear explosion in Lawrence, Kansas. In its time, a true TV event! It’s also a great achievement by director Nicholas Meyer who had numerous disagreements with the network during the film’s editing process. I consider this film to be a classic and a must see for every thinking human being.

TheStandDVDCover3. THE STAND 1993- Director Mick Garris did an amazing job adapting Stephen King’s epic novel into a miniseries that aired on ABC in 1993. It’s about a flu pandemic that wipes out most of the world’s population and was truly a landmark television achievement. King’s post apocalyptic tale works on many levels, but is ultimately a good versus evil story. Gary Sinese is terrific as Stu Redman, one of the survivors of a man-made super flu virus that wipes out most of mankind. Ruby Dee, playing Mother Abigail, a mysterious old woman who might be a servant of God, is nothing short of sensational in the best work of her career, and Jamey Sheridan as the villainous Randall Flagg is incredible. Great supporting work by Ray Walston, Rob Lowe, Miguel Ferrer and Ossie Davis makes The Stand a must see film event. As post apocolyptic tales go, it doesn’t get much better than The Stand. I watch this at least once a year.

2. PLANET OF THE APES 1968- I can’t imagine any other actor playing Planet_of_the_Apes_ShipAstronaut George Taylor than Charlton Heston as his screen presence really fit the bill with this role. Director Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton) clearly was a great storyteller and had tremendous patience in his filmmaking, something clearly lacking in many of today’s movie makers. While we may not understand that it’s an end of the world film until the last five minutes, those minutes are as powerful as any in movie history. 

1. DAWN OF THE DEAD 1978- George Romero’s second Zombie outing works on so many levels. Part horror, part end of the world story, part social commentary and all dawn-of-the-dead-cool-picGREATNESS! Besides The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dawn of the Dead is the most popular midnight movie of all time. Usually you don’t use the term movie magic when talking about the horror genre, but Romero clearly had some magic going on. Ultimatley it’s a bleak tale about human loneliness. Shot over the course of four months on a budget of less than $1,000,000., the film is considered by many, including myself, as the Gone with the Wind of the horror genre. Filmed mainly at the Monroeville mall in Pennsylvannia, Romero used the zombie setting to take a shot at America’s obsession with consumerism. Despite its modest budget, the film comes off as epic in scope. The cast, mostly unknowns including Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross, all worked well together, creating well-rounded and memorable characters despite a grueling filming schedule of overnight shooting. That was due to the availability of the Monroeville mall as it was open to the public during the day. The film’s concept of four people who hide out in a shopping mall during a massive zombie outbreak at the beginning stages of the end of the world, is one of pure fantasy that audiences really got involved in. Dawn became a mainstay of the midnight movie going experience and the film countinues to have legions of fans. There are three different versions of the film, available on the definitive ultimate special edition DVD – a must own for any collection.

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January 13, 2010 - Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News, Reviews | , , ,

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