“You know the law: Two men enter, one man leaves.”

My choices for the ten best Post-Apocalyptic films:

  • The Matrix
  • The Road Warrior
  • The Girl With All the Gifts
  • Dawn of the Dead ’78
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  • One the Beach
  • The Omega man
  • Wall-E
  • The Day of the Triffids


Bold anti-heroes fighting their way across inhospitable wildernesses, with makeshift weapons and nothing to lose. It’s the Post-Apocalyptic film, and it’s hard to come up with a sub-genre which is more fun, while being devoid of meaning.  Few have political messages, unless they fall into the Dystopian sub-genre as well.  The best look at what it means to be a man (and I use the masculine purposely), and take their cue from Cambell’s writings on myths. The worst are cheap sword and dune buggy adventures.

So, what makes a film Post-Apocalyptic? Well, there needs to have been an apocalypse, and I don’t mean in the “revelation” sense of the word. I’m talking about Armageddon, but it can’t be a complete end-of-days scenario since then there wouldn’t be a “post” to film. It’s civilization that has to have fallen, and not slowly faded away; there must be an event that took it down (although a multi-year war is OK; four hundred years of slowly dwindling resources doesn’t do it).

Additionally, these are films about the world in shambles. If society has rebuilt, we’re out of the Post-Apocalyptic world. 1984 and Equilibrium are Dystopian stories, not Post-Apocalyptic ones as society is well established and in control (too much control). Only pockets of social order exist in this sub-genre.

And let’s not forget the word “post.” Disaster stories of the destruction of civilization (The Day after Tomorrow and Night of the Living Dead) is a whole other sub-genre.

Post-Apocalyptic films have always tended to feature self-sufficient males, but before 1981, they were likely to be standard heroes, and it wasn’t uncommon for them to have families. With Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, there came a stream of anti-heroes fighting leather-clad psychos in dune buggies.  With deserts within driving distance of LA, it’s no surprise that the new low-budget vision of the future was sandy. Of course, none came close to the quality of the original.

Post-Apocalyptic Film Reviews:

Post-Apocalyptic Films Sorted by Year: