It should be pretty obvious what is going on here, but since this is the first post of its kind, I will lay down some ground rules for future lists. Only one theme and enough total running time to make a night out of it. And the end result is, hopefully, one kickass night of watching.
Theme: Post-Apocalyptic Fun!
1. The Apocalypse must have either already occurred or is well under way
2. The movie has to have a great sense of humor
3. The survivors have fun in the aftermath
And now the lineup:
First up, Dawn of the Dead (Dir. George Romero, 1978)
What’s it about: Zombies roam the Earth thanks to no room being left in hell. Rigor mortis zombies at that. None of this fast moving bullshit. A group of 4 take over a mall and develop a pretty functional life inside its protective walls until a gang of biker raiders see how much fun they’re having and decide to take the mall in a siege, letting all the zombies back in in the process.
Why’d it make the cut: Dawn was a revolutionary film when it came out and close to 30 years later it still reigns as King of all zombie films. It’s gory as all hell and pushed the boundaries – hell, less than 30 minutes into the film Ken Foree is forced to mow down a pair of kids.
But even with the films horror heights, it has a blast in the process. It’s a very sharp script with very real characters, who have a whole lot of fun when they take over the mall. It fills out the childhood fantasy we all had of living in a mall, but, ya know, with zombies. Funny zombies. Zombies who wobble on an ice rink or try to use a blood pressure machine. Or get stabbed in the ear with a screwdriver.
It’s a great balance of the funny with the gory. Oh, and it just happens to be one of the best horror films ever made.
Second up, Night of the Comet (Dir. Thom Eberhardt, 1984)
What’s it about: Earth is about to witness a very rare meteor shower. In fact, it’s so rare that it hasn’t happened since dinosaurs ruled the earth. So of course it’s a world wide, once in a lifetime event and practically the entire planet goes outside to watch it. And as the meteors break through the skies, everyone in the world is promptly turned to dust. Everyone except people who were completely shielded inside steel walls. Some of these people just happen to be our main characters. And the rest of the survivors were only partially shielded and are thus slowly degrading into madmen.
Why’d it make the cut: It’s a whole lot softer than Dawn, but even more apocalyptic. The world is pretty much done for. The only people left (in L.A. at least) are faced with, "the burden of civilization", but they’re also teenagers who just want to have fun!
Until they go to the mall and all the stock boys who were at the bottom of the barrel have risen up and taken over the place like some kind of loser gang. And then there are the scientists who foresaw the meteor’s effects and built an underground laboratory, only to forget the ventilation system needed to be closed. So they try to seek out survivors in the hope of draining their blood for a cure.
Lighthearted fun in a full on apocalypse with ’80s teenagers, ’80s sensibilities and ’80s music. Win!
Last Up, A Boy and His Dog (Dir. L.Q. Jones, 1975)
What’s it about: In a future devasted by global nuclear war, we have a boy and his dog. Vic, the boy, has a psychic relationship with Blood, his dog. What do they do with this psychic bond, besides keeping each other company? Well, Blood gives Vic history lessons while mocking his human stupidity and Vic makes sure they both always have food to eat. Oh, and they use Blood’s amazing sense of smell to travel the wastelands in search of women to rape.
I’m not kidding.
Why’d it make the cut: Well, first off, you’ve probably never seen it. Second off, it is a funny, funny movie with razor sharp satire. But, as a disclaimer considering this is chiefly a horror site, this is not a horror film at all. Sci-fi and horror often blend together, but A Boy and His Dog is grounded firmly in bizarre Science Fiction soil.
Blood is a better character than any other person you’ll find wandering post-apocalyptic wastelands. You can never really expect what happens and you’re never really even sure why some of it is happening, but man is it a quirky and completely original story.
And the ending. The ending is a gut buster.
Total Movie Night Running Time: 5.23 hours. Not bad, not bad at all.