Thursday, October 05, 2006

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things
I watched an episode of Jericho Wednesday night on CBS, after reading a number of reviews for Cormac Mccarthy’s recently published novel The Road, which led me to fondly remember my favorite (and not so favorite) stories of global apocalypse and societal breakdown…

La Jetee
It's short. Made in 1962. 99+44/100% of it is still pictures. All about time travel after a nuclear war. And it’s in French. It just shouldn’t work at all. I just saw it a couple of weeks ago for the first time in 30 years. And it’s much more shattering than "12 Monkeys" - the remake.

Night of the Living Dead
Simple, basic, frightening. When the eating starts, even the background music is destroyed.

On the Beach
In Australia, Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins wait out the last days of humanity after a nuclear war. That’s right, Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred… oh, never mind.

Sounds like rapture claptrap - NOT! Simple tale of a small California town dying off after a nuclear war. Do we see a pattern here? Jane Alexander’s presence makes it all too… artsy and political. But it’s got Kevin Costner, years before he’d try much the same thing in the uber-ridiculous “The Postman.” Guaranteed to kill any party.

The Day After
Supposedly, ABC cut this down to two hours in a panic when, as I remember it, the zeitgeist surrounding it got too hot. And that was before it aired. After the bombs drop, it’s a long slow slog with Steve Gutenberg to the end of the world. Not to be confused with the long slow slog with Steve Gutenberg that is “Cocoon.”

The World, the Flesh and the Devil
Mel Ferrer (aka Mr. Audrey Hepburn), Harry Belafonte, and Inger Stevens (who?) are the last three people in New York City. How they all got there and where the other bodies went is anyone’s guess. Not nearly as good as…

The Quiet Earth
A man, a woman, and a Maori tribesman (uh, ok) are the only three people left in New Zealand, probably the whole world. Works up to an interesting finish.

Kiss Me Deadly
“Blood Red Kisses! White Hot Thrills” goes its tagline. How does a Mickey Spillane adaptation fit with this list? Well, if you happen to see it sometime on Turner Classic Movies, just keep watching…

The Stand
Steven King’s phone-book sized tale of a superflu virus and the devastation it brings was an ABC miniseries with more gore than "The Day After." Still, the book was better.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Don Siegel’s model-of-economy black and white flick scared the heck out of us when we were kids (we were all ready to laugh at it, with that goofy title.) The plot, lean and mean with absolutely no fats or oils that add calories, still works its charms after all these years.

The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man
Two adaptations of Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend,” the first with Vincent Price, the second with Charlton Heston. "Omega" is nutty. "The Last Man" approaches zombie gold.

The Day the World Ended
Roger Corman quickie about, uh, let’s see, what is it about… oh yeah, the end of the world! Black and white, cheesy sets, bad acting… DC’s Channel 20 used to show this all the time, after which you always felt... somehow… dirty…

Panic in the Year Zero
Ray Milland directed this, about… oh you know. A family escapes Los Angeles just as the Bright White Flash takes over. Depressing but a smidgen of hope at the end.


Chant Sous la Pluie
Another bomb drops in Los Angeles, and the fallout is, well, interesting. In “Jericho” everybody stayed out of the possibly-irradiated rain. In this movie, the main character demands: “Bring It On!”

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