Burn baby burn

18 11 2009

I fucking LOVE apocalyptic movies!

Death! Disaster! Mayhem! Whoo hoo!

And if they’re religiously themed? Even better.

Now, I define apocalyptic broadly, to encompass existential ends, partial ends (of countries, cities) as well as the mere possibility of world’s end.

Oo, world’s end—let’s see, Childhood’s End, an Aldous Huxley (Arthur C. Clarke—h/t C.) novel about—yep—the end of the world. Read that one (the, uh, first time) in high school.

So let’s extend the love for all things apocalyptic to novels, as well.

It should go without saying that these movies/novels are often awful. Children of Men was a very good movie (and so-so novel), but that, I think, was an exception.

Terminator 2 was pretty good, but really, really, really long.

Terminator? Okay.

Terminator 3? Okay. (I missed Linda Hamilton.)

Terminator 4? Umm, is that on Hulu? Maybe if I ever sign up for Netflix. . . .

Goofy apocalyptic is good, like Independence Day. Or what was that movie with Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche about the volcano in Los Angeles? Goofy is what it was!

And certainly better than the Pierce Brosnan volcano flick—which, while it had Linda Hamilton, did not have Sarah Connor.

So, too, with Deep Impact Armageddon (Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck comet movie) and the Morgan Freeman/Tea Leoni comet movie (Deep Impact). You’d think the Freeman/Leoni duo would kick Willis & Affleck’s asses, but, no: Deep Impact Armageddon wins by goofiness.

Prophecy, with Virginia Madsen and Christopher Walken—really, you have to ask? Christopher Walken! And bonus with angels and Satan and stuff!

Much better than End of Days, with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Too stodgy.

The Ninth Gate? Not really world-ending, but really fucking weird. And Satan and stuff.

Stigmata? Not really at all, but it had visions and angels and stuff. And Gabriel Byrne.

Waterworld? Nuh. Kevin Costner, not in his lovable-crank personna (Bull Durham, Tin Cup), but just annoying crank. But Dennis Hopper was fun.

Day After Tomorrow? Please. (And while I’m certainly willing to watch bad bad-end movies, I’m not willing to pay 12 bucks to do so: 2012 will have to wait.)

War of the Worlds? I have the Tom Cruise version stamped on my brain. Too muted. And Tom Cruise. . . .

Oh, and On the Beach. Odd, but great. The first half is a bit of a caper flick, with Fred Astair and Ava Gardner (man!) and stiff-and-honorable Gregory Peck, but still (SPOILER), no relief: everybody dies.

The Day After played on t.v. in the 1980s, to much hue and cry. I saw it again a year or two ago, and while it was mighty cheesy, still.

Testament was not cheesy. I still (mis?)remember the scene in which Jane Alexander is sitting in next to sun-filled window, sewing, her face determined. It’s only in the voiceover do we learn that this is a shroud for her daughter.

28 Days Later gave me nightmares for a week—then terrified me out of sleep six months later.

Didn’t see 28 Months Later, however—tho’ if it streams on Netflix (if I ever. . .) then, maybe.

I should catch up with all the old George Romero flixs. While I’m not a big horror fan, zombies work.

World War Z, by Max Brooks. Have you read it? A fine bit of reportage. Sparked an unfinished bit of writing from me, on the ethics of zombie-killing and -experimentation.

Margaret Atwood has written a number of apocalyptic novels, although these tend toward collapse-apocalypse as opposed to war/violence-apocalypse. Oryx & Crake was hilarious and cold—just right; her new book elaborates on the O&C theme and is, according to a number of critics, better than the original. Hmpf.

And then, of course, The Handmaid’s Tale—I’m currently using that in one of my pol sci classes. When I polled the class on when/whether they would try to escape the totalitarian Republic of Gilead, most of them were of the I’d-wait-it-out variety. Really? I all-but-yelped. Only one student was with me: as soon as we lost our jobs or our money, if not sooner, we’d be gone.

Turn me into an Unwoman—no suh!

Gone-Away World, by Nick Harkaway. What? You still haven’t read it? Honestly, what’s your excuse?

There’s more, of course. Fahrenheit 451. Don DeLillo. The Plot Against America. Walker Percy. Peter Hoeg. Jose Saramago. 1984. A couple of Marge Piercy’s. A couple of Mary Doria Russell’s. William Gibson.

Science fiction? Speculative fiction? Whatever. If the earth is in peril/ends, it’s in.

C. was going to start an apocalyptic book club at the bookstore, but a necessary manager bailed. Still, I’d expect that she’d have even more to offer.

And, again, quality is not really the point, here. Even the books or movies I slagged I’d still (re)read or watch (again).

The point is that they are 1) fiction; 2) fun! and/or terrifying!; and 3) the world ends!

Should I mention that a number of us have made plans to see The Road Christmas night?

The director had better not make it ‘inspiring’. . . .


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6 responses

18 11 2009
Christine

I’m assembling my own lists, with reviews, as I see/read each work… I’m having a lot of fun with this!

I seem to distinguish more than you do, between apocalypse and dystopia; but I also allow for disasters that aren’t quite world-ending. For example, I’m rereading Ballard’s “High Rise” right now.

A few other things – “Childhood’s End” is Arthur C. Clarke, and what did Delillo write that was apocalyptic? And Peter Hoeg? I need titles – I’m trying to assemble an exhaustive list.

And I liked Oryx and Crake better than The Year of the Flood, but of course they complement each other nicely.

I just watched “I Am Legend” and then read the book. Generally, though, I don’t like zombies!! Zombies play no part in my own apocalyptic novel (my NaNoWriMo project) except for the shell-shocked citizen victim-of-disaster type.

I have some ideas about why the apocalypse is so interesting – what do you think?

18 11 2009
geekhiker

What about “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?” The Vogon construction crew always seemed about as appropriate an end to the world as anything else…

18 11 2009
Christine

I’ll accept “Hitchhiker’s” for my list, and will also add The Restaurant at the End of the Universe! Thanks!

Re “The Road” -finally, a reason to look forward to Christmas, besides having the worst of the holidays over! I’m not worried about the director making it “inspiring” – he’s Australian. ;) And, looking at his Wiki page, he director videos for Siouxsie, Depeche Mode, and Nick Cave. I haven’t seen The Proposition, but it looks pretty bleak. We’re all going to want some whiskey afterwards, I’m thinking!

18 11 2009
absurdbeats

Christine, thanks for the AC Clarke catch. I was so damned lazy last night as I was typing, I couldn’t even bother to check IMDB for various movie titles.

And yes, I do tend to mush dystopias in with apocalypses—perhaps because I love both! I was wondering whether to include ‘Brave New World’ (which IS Huxley), but decided that its particular dystopia was more evolutionary than apocalyptic. Thus, my not-terribly-well-thought-out schema would include dystopias which were either im- or explicitly preceded by an apocalypse (be it disastrous or slow-moving).

*Peter Hoeg: ‘Borderliners': dystopic (and likely violates even my low apocalyptic standard). But it is creepy.
*DeLillo: ‘White Noise’, with its ‘airborne toxic event.’
*Piercy: ‘He, She, and It': combines the golem myth with a post-apocalyptic creation of a defense-cyborg. Perhaps also ‘Woman on the Edge of Time’, but even I doubt that one.

And you’ll be posting your exhaustive list, correct?

GH, I. . . I don’t know how to tell you this. . . I have difficulty even writing this, but. . . (deep breath) I’ve never read ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide.’

There. I said it.

It is on my ‘list,’ however. Someday. . . .

18 11 2009
geekhiker

That’s okay, but whatever you do, promise me, PROMISE ME, that you won’t watch the movie that came out a couple of years ago. Horrible. Absolutely horrible.

The BBC series from the early 80’s though? Got it just about right.

19 11 2009
Christine

I expected to hate the movie, but I actually liked it. I went in knowing they would never match what I imagined, and fully expecting to loathe it, so that helped. I never saw the BBC version, either, but they’re like HBO – you can trust them to get it right.

AB, it’s definitely worth reading, and the whole series is a very quick read indeed.

And yes, my exhaustive list will be up soon. There are a LOT of books and movies. And several good documentaries, too, though of course those are speculative.

I forgot about the “airborne toxic event,” am I going to have to read that again? I liked it, but I’m only reading apocalypses right now, and I don’t remember that qualifying.

I read “Woman on the Edge of Time” when I was like 8, god knows how it found its way into my life. Actually I think I had to stop reading it, because it was too awful, the events of the book, I mean. One of the few books I’ve not finished because the story was too bad, not the writing. I should try again now.

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