The end of the world has been one of the recurring themes of science fiction. The creators of the genre have imagined time and time again what the end of days would be like, going to viruses, glaciations, zombie plagues, war catastrophes or many other reasons. We have selected some of the best post-apocalyptic movies available on streaming so that you can compose a cycle with very little future, because the end of civilization is just around the corner.
As always, we remind you that this selection is exclusively hosted by the current availability of these movies on the different streaming platforms, and that is the reason for absences as notorious as those of the ‘Mad Max’ or ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchises. This is our selection:
The Last Man Alive (1964)
Perhaps the most influential story of all those that have portrayed the end of civilization has been ‘I am a legend’, the novel by Richard Matheson that was made into a movie three times (plus the unique Spanish experiment by Mario Gómez Martín). This is the most faithful to the original, an Italian co-production starring a perfect Vincent Price and that aesthetically it is essential to understand classics such as ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (in turn an apocryphal adaptation of Matheson). Superb setting, brimming with absolutely iconic scenes of death and despair.
2024: Nuclear Apocalypse (A Boy and His Dog) (1975)
Don’t trust the ostentatious Spanish title: ‘A Boy and His Dog’ is based on a short novel by the great Harlan Ellison who won a Nebula Award And it’s a great post-apocalyptic adventure full of humor, that pre-empted on many issues, with its mix of western and satire, to ‘Mad Max’ and other variations of the end of the world. In it, a boy (Don Johnson) who communicates telepathically with his dog discovers in a world ravaged after a world war a society that survives underground.
Zombie: Return of the Walking Dead (1978)
One of the most influential sci-fi horror films of all time, to the point where the sequence of the invasion of the dead into the mall continues to be cloned and imitated without losing any strength along the way. Romero continued his epic of the dead with films as essential as ‘The Day of the Dead’, and his legacy lives on both with the wonderful remake of Zack Snyder from 2004 and with the imminent sequel directed by Snyder himself that will be released by Netflix shortly .
It is not exactly the most accessible film on this list, but it is an absolute classic of post-apocalyptic cinema., an epic that later has influenced such disparate films as ‘Annihilation’ or the video game trilogy ‘Metro’. Halfway between metaphysical and adventurous (i.e. a perfect double show with ‘Solaris’, also by Andrei Tarkovski), a guide in the Zone, a mysterious place where natural laws do not apply, takes two travelers in Search for the Room, in which the wishes of the travelers are fulfilled.
12 monkeys (1995)
A modern classic not only of post-apocalyptic cinema, but also of time travel movies. The paradoxes that a stunned Bruce Willis generates with his travels to the present to save the future are as iconic as those visions of depopulated cities, deserted by the effect of a virus and recovered by wild animals. An astonishingly inventive film that has even generated a serial spin-off that should be recovered.
Slaughtered in its day for its budget excesses, this ‘Mad Max in the water’ had a lot more wit than posterity has reserved for her. The spectacular nature of its action sequences and the ostentatiousness of its aquatic setting, perfect for portraying a post-apocalyptic world in which the mainland is a lost paradise, they give it a very special touch. Its green message, the fruit of considerable mockery at the time, is now perfectly visionary.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
The mythical explosion of the White House on ‘Independence Day’ made Roland Emmerich a specialist in showing the spectacular destruction of monuments and well-known places. It was used extensively in two apocalyptic movies of mass destruction like ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and ‘2012’. In the first one, the world faces all kinds of natural disasters as a prelude to global ice age due to climate change. Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal try to survive in this key film of a sub-genre (the realistic climate post-apocalypse) that has gone out of style because, well … because we are starting to experience it live.
I am legend (2007)
After countless apocryphal versions and having hit the post-apocalyptic genre like few others, comes this big-budget, star-studded adaptation aboard Richard Matheson’s classic. It is moderately true to the letter, but lacks its hopelessness, simplicity and wit, starting with monsters much less terrifying than the original vampires. The result is relatively successful, and it is always a pleasure to reconnect with the original story, even if this version ends up being inferior to that of Vincent Price.
The ecological catastrophe told to children: a seemingly impossible concept that borders on perfection in this film that takes the risky narrative decision not to include dialogue until well into the middle of its footage. Until then, this Pixar production, one of the few that does not have sequels, is a real joy despite portraying the extinction of human civilization, brimming with winks that go from Buster Keaton’s silent movies to ‘Mad Max’.
Welcome to Zombieland (2009)
The post-apocalypse zombie set a major trend towards the end of the last decade thanks to the success of the ‘The Walking Dead’ television series, the book ” World War Z ‘- and its subsequent 2013 adaptation -, ’28 days after ‘and there’s’ Welcome to Zombieland’, which we can consider as the definitive assimilation of the zombie by the mainstream culture. It is a film that preserves all the elements of the George A. Romero-style zombie films, but regurgitated for the general public: it is nice, very funny, with excellent interpretations of its main cast, and precisely for all that and as a death certificate of the monster, something irritating.
The road (2009)
More focused on human drama than survival adventure, this film based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel that won a Pulitzer in 2007 is also a pure and unapologetic post-apocalyptic story, from which later fictions of the genre such as ‘The Last of Us’ have drawn. Benefiting from an extraordinary performance by Viggo Mortensen, it tells how a man and his son cross the country trying to reach the coast after a mysterious cataclysm that has turned many of the survivors into very aggressive beings.
A brilliant cast led by Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and John Hurt adds substance to this post-apocalyptic action piece with a concise and symbolic plot: In a land devastated by climate change, the only safe place is a train that circles the Earth without rest. Inside, the social classes have been divided into different ends of the vehicle. But the revolution begins in this film that marked the international revelation of Bong Joon Ho (‘Parasites’)
A Quiet Place (2018)
One of the Latest surprise hits of the post-apocalyptic subgenre, thanks to the terrifying simplicity of its starting point. The planet has been invaded by horrendous and voracious blind creatures that guide themselves by sound. A family, headed by Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (also the film’s director) try to survive, some time after the disaster, in absolute silence.