It’s the end of the world as we know it. Tony feels a little less than fine.
Sigh. We gave you a list of dreadful fictional Presidents, so you’d know what to avoid. We gave you twice as many great, inspirational Presidents, so you’d have a clue what to vote for.
You had one job, Ameri-geeks. All you had to do was ensure the survival of the species.
There’s no nice way to say this: You blew it. Bring on the meteors, the aliens, the carnivorous plants. This species deserves everything we’ve been fantasizing it gets for over a hundred years.
Yes, it’s a Disney Pixar chunk of squeaky cuteness, but let’s not forget, Wall-E predicted a world in which we humans were so negligent we turned our planet into a junk heap, then left to live pampered, barely-moving-our-ass lives with robot slaves. We’re…about forty years away from Wall-E, probably.
14. Deep Impact
The idea of giant balls of rock from space destroying us is actually pretty likely, and prrrrobably overdue. Deep Impact gave us a blow-by-blow of the conniving-in-our-best-interests that might well go on if Rocks From Space were heading our way and anyone had a clue about it. Chances are, they probably won’t have. Nature wiping us off the face of the universe – pretty much place your bets time, folks.
13. Planet Of The Apes (1968)
Cos…why the hell not? With Russia cosying up, China and the US getting increasingly hostile in the South China Sea, and the President-Elect being…who he is, why would we not blow it all to hell in the next few years? The joy of Planet of the Apes is that it keeps its secrets for the very last scene. The only thing that makes it unlikely is that with the nukes we have right now, any apes would go bye-bye right along with us.
12. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
Yes, the film was pretty dire, but the notion of the Earth being demolished to make way for a new by-pass is of course cosmic satire of the highest order. Destruction of the Earth due to administrative blunder? Almost a certainty at this point.
11. V (1983)
Thirteen years before Emmerich and Devlin gave us Independence Day, lizards from space were parking their spaceships all around the world and wandering round in human-masks, pretending to be our friends. So impressive and ahead of its time that some people think this sort of really happened. Yes, they should be heavily medicated, but some of them will now have the ear of the President of the United States. Did we mention you blew it, Ameri-geeks?
10. War of the Worlds (1953)
Technicolour Cold War version of the HG Wells classic, and probably both the first and last word on alien invasions. What’s not to love in humming green spaceships with heat rays, and aliens having their asses kicked by bacteria? The movie remains eminently watchable (though Jeff Wayne and Orson Welles have things to say, too), with an aesthetic that almost makes you stand, mesmerised, waiting for the heat ray. Not for nothing, the last piece of flotsam we threw at Mars got all the way there and then…failed to land. #Justsayin.
Nothing has convinced me more that Idiocracy is a prophecy than the 2016 Presidential election. Let’s all go to sleep for a while and see what the world becomes in humanity’s absence, shall we? Oh, right, Planet of the Apes…OK, but ask yourself, which would you rather live on? Planet of the Apes, or Planet of the Alt-Right?
8. Dr Strangelove
More satire, more human stupidity, more nuclear bombs, much more likelihood from January 2017. One madman, one order, one race for sanity, one appalling failure. Remind me again who thought it was a good idea to give this particular President-Elect the nuclear codes?
7. The Terminator
Machines rising up to kill their human ‘masters’? Remember that our satellite navigation systems, our stock markets, our aircraft, our nuclear power stations, our banks and plenty more besides are all dependent on GPS timing – a very weak, very jammable signal. As we move towards more and more integrated, autonomous technologies (drones, robo-tanks (yes, really, DARPA is working on them), self-driving cars etc), James Cameron’s version of the Apocalypse is looking increasingly feasible. The time travel bit? Mmm less so, but still, before all the sequels of decreasing merit, The Terminator was a great way to imagine the world coming to an end.
6. The Day The Earth Stood Still
Not an alien invasion, more of an alien ‘Seriously, take a chill pill, Mankind, or you won’t be allowed to play with the cool kids.’ By virtue of not being an invasion story, The Day The Earth Stood Still elevated pulp science fiction to epic status on screen, and gave us a warning to ponder. We think we’re so important, our differences worth killing and dying for, but from a distance, we look like morons. Again, anybody think we couldn’t do with a few decades on the Naughty Step imposed by an alien Supernanny right about now? Klaatu, if you’re out there, you’re on in five.
5. 28 Days Later
Then of course there’s the Zombie Apocalypse. Again, there are people out there – voting citizens – who think this is due any minute now. Possibly just before the Rapture. 28 Days Later upped the ante for the whole zombie genre (sorry, Mr Romero), with the idea of fast, fury-driven zombies, throwing a plague into the midst, and giving the genre a shot of those Eighties BBC dramas that traumatised a generation (of which, more later).
4. Independence Day
Biggest and best of the Hollywood Apocalypses…Apocalypsi?...on our list, it took lessons from War of the Worlds and V and smashed them together, with the added element that defined a generation of ends of the world by making sure we saw Some Really Big Monuments Blown To Shit. Though those that emulated it got hit by decreasing impact factor, when Independence Day blew the bejesus out of the world, the bejesus stayed well and truly blown. Also, it had great speeches and Will Smith, which is why the sequel, not having either, simply blew. NB – if Independence Day happens in the next four years, we’re all comprehensively screwed.
3. Threads (1984)
More nuclear annhilation and aftermath, but delivered almost as docu-drama, with minimal embellishment on the official notifications and policies of the time (the early Eighties), no great speeches and precisely bog-all by way of a feelgood factor. It only comes so low down the list of best apocalypses because a) it’s very much of its time, and b) it’s actually no fun at all to watch or re-watch. Still – increasingly likely as of 2017, so actively worth an equally stripped-back remake using 21st century public information documents.
2. Survivors (1975)
One of Terry Nation’s four best ideas (Daleks, Davros, Blake’s 7), Survivors ended the world with a cough and a splutter, and the nature of pandemic plague, the like of which had been sci-fi gold since at least 1969, when Michael ‘Deadly Theme Park’ Crichton developed The Andromeda Strain. Nation’s version of pandemic plague imagined the very simple premise of what would happen to 1970s life if something as percentage per capita deadly as The Black Death were to rear its head in our Western, developed, civilised world. Carnage and anarchy ensued, albeit on a very British budget. While the 2008 re-make was OK, the original Survivors now has a new life on Big Finish audio, where the scope is bigger, but the tension’s just as keen. Here’s just a little light reading for you – sleep well.
1. Day Of The Triffids (1981)
There have been plenty of versions of Day of the Triffids. None of them come close to the BBC’s version from 1981. The combination of the beautiful, sickening, realistic Triffid design, the use of sound and direction to throw the viewer off balance, and the entirely deliberate intention to scare the same viewer absolutely witless, both with the blindness of the majority of people and the desperation it causes them and what they’re prepared to do to survive, is intoxicating, terrifying and proper world-gone-mad material. While the Day of the Triffids is not statistically likely to happen in the near future, if it does, you can rest assured that, whether in the UK or the US, most of us will be compost before Day 2.
The election of Donald Trump does not mean the end of the world, per se. It just makes it both more likely and more welcome than it was before. See you on the other side, fellow geeks!
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk