Over the years apocalyptic films have come in all shapes, sizes and genres. Starting with the 1950s science-fictions, and moving into the epic and overwhelmingly patriotic and Americanised apocalypses of the 1990s, contemporary apocalyptic movies are now in the fashion of combing stories about the end of the world with dark comedy.
The latest apocalyptic film, Open Grave, comes to DVD this October embedded deeply into the genre of horror. Starring Sharlto Copley in a chillingly scary and gruesome role, Open Grave proves to be a VERY different apocalypse to any we have seen before.
Here we look back at the very best apocalyptic movies.
Independence Day (1996)
The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy. Fighting superior technology, Man's best weapon is the will to survive. The unlikely duo of military pilot Will Smith and scientist Jeff Goldblum team up to infiltrate a spaceship hovering over Washington DC to stop the alien invaders taking over and destroying all the major cities of the world. With the even unlikelier assistance of the president of the United States himself, played by Bill Pullman, the unconquerable Americans save the world from extinction, yet again. Cheesy and sickeningly hyperbolic in every American sense of the word, Independence Day is tremendously feel-good and enough to make you jump out of your seat to celebrate victory for the (very American) human race.
After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas is going to impact Earth in less than a month, N.A.S.A. recruits a misfit team of deep core drillers to save the planet. Director Michael Bay and writers J. J. Abrams and Jonathan Hensleigh team up to produce THE epic apocalyptic film of the 90s. With a host of A-list talent including Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler and an unforgettable soundtrack from Aerosmith, there was absolutely no chance of Armageddon being a flop. Thrills, space-venture, hard-men, romance, conflict and sacrifice - I wouldn’t want to miss a thing.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Roland Emmerich directed and wrote the only film on this list to imagine apocalypse through the medium of climate-change. Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age. Stars Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal and Emmy Rossum demonstrate the power of filial and romantic love in this underrated apocalypse film that also takes into consideration the contemporary concern and threat of global-warming.
I Am Legend (2007)
Will Smith seems to be drawn to apocalyptic films like a moth to a flame. Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, he plays Robert Neville the sole survivor in New York City who struggles valiantly to find a cure alongside his dog and best friend Marley. Smith delivers an outstandingly powerful performance in I Am Legend, demonstrating his breadth of acting talent – both impressively athletic and emotionally intense. I defy anyone to hold back the tears during the scene where Robert and Marley say goodbye.
12 Monkeys (1995)
In a future world devastated by disease, convict Bruce Willis is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet. 12 Monkeys studies the subjective nature of memories and their effect upon perceptions of reality. References to time, time travel, and monkeys are scattered throughout the film, including the Woody Woodpecker cartoon "Time Tunnel" playing on the TV in a hotel room, the Marx Brothers film Monkey Business (1931) on TV in the asylum and the subplots of monkeys (drug testing, news stories and animal rights). The film is also a study of modern civilization's declining efforts to communicate with each other due to the interference of technology. 12 Monkeys was directed by Terry Gilliam and starred a host of talent including Madeleine Stowe, Christopher Plummer, David Morse and Brad Pitt, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and won a Golden Globe for his performance as Jeffrey Goines.
In Zombieland, a shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, a gun-toting tough guy trying to find the Last Twinkie and a pair of sisters trying to get to an amusement park join forces to travel across a zombie-filled America in search of a Zombie-free sanctuary. Whilst Woody Harrelson absolutely steals the show in this hilarious take on a world-wide zombie-invasion, Bill Murray’s cameo is unexpected and simply fantastic. The special effects team worked to create a visual element to "The Rules for Survival" in Zombieland, which pop up in 3-D on-screen as they are related to the audience by Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg): "1. Do cardio", "3. Beware of bathrooms", “8. Get a kick-ass partner”, "31. Check the back seat", and so forth much like a video-game.
The War of The Worlds (1953)
The 1953 film adaptation of the H.G.Wells classic novel told on radio of the invasion of Earth by Martians deserves a special mention as one of the first apocalyptic science-fiction films. Starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, it is the first of a number of film adaptations based on Wells' novel – the most recent starred Tom Cruise (2005). The 1953 version won an Oscar for its special effects and was later selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. World War II stock footage was used to produce a montage of destruction to show the worldwide invasion, with armies of all nations joining together to fight the invaders.
This Is The End (2013)
The ultimate ensemble comedy cast including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson feature in this hilarious black comedy disaster film. Other celebrity actors also make cameo appearances; Rihanna, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Channing Tatum, Aziz Anzari and The Backstreet Boys all play obnoxious, idiotic, parodied versions of themselves at James Franco's house party, when they are faced with the apocalypse. During the apocalypse the star-studded cast are picked off one by one, suffering gruesomely epic deaths. This Is The End is an apocalyptic movie like no other, combining celebrity, horror and comedic parody that will make you snort with laughter.
Open Grave (2013/4)
With a weight of fan anticipation already behind it, Sharlto Copley now stars in Open Grave; a taut chiller that centres around a man who wakes up in a mass grave. Rescued by a group of fellow survivors, he then has to establish if he, or one of his saviours, is responsible for the grave in the first place whilst also dealing with an even more deadly threat.
Open Grave is available on DVD and digital platforms from 13th October, 2014, courtesy of Signature Entertainment, just in time for the scariest night of the year.