High Museum of Art: Films

Apocalypse Now: Staff Picks by Linda Dubler
July 10, 2009, 10:36 am
Filed under: Staff Picks | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve asked Museum staff again for their two cents on their favorite apocalyptic movies. (Learn about the inspiration for the current exhibition Richard Misrach: On The Beach here >>)

Johan Harper, Security
Damnation Alley and
Night of the Comet

Why does the end of the world have to be so depressing? Damnation Alley has everything you need in a Post-Apocalyptic movie. Bad special effects, cheesy dialogue, a strange monster truck that floats called “The Land Master”, man-eating cockroaches, George Peppard, and Jan-Michael Vincent! What more can you ask for? O.K. the movie’s beginning is pretty grim and serious, but the low production values turn the whole mess into an unintentional comedy before too long. The scene where the actors fail to pretend to be afraid of tons of plastic cockroaches tied to long strings pulled across the floor is comedy gold! “This whole town is infested with killer cockroaches. I repeat: KILLER COCKROACHES!” Too funny! damnation_alley_ver2

Another enjoyable end of the world movie is Night of the Comet. If you wake up one day and everybody else has become little piles of red dust, wouldn’t you really rather just go shopping at the mall? If everyone is dead, everything is free! Night of the Comet has it all – zombies, mad scientists, and gun-toting valley girls! It is a comedy, it is a horror movie, it is a time capsule from 1984!


Emily Beard, Web Content Coordinator
28 Days Later and Sunshine

This feels a little like a “duh” choice, but 28 Days Later has a lot of things going for it. The camera work fully puts you in Cillian Murphy’s shoes, whether you are experiencing the emptiness, the rush and fear, or the salvation. By turns, the scenery and colors feel either expansive and rich or cramped and dull. Alex Garland (writer, The Beach, Sunshine) seems to have a knack at exposing the best and worst of humanity, whether it’s infected or not. I went in thinking it would be another zombie flick, and walked out pleasantly surprised and thinking about where we are headed.

I’m not entirely certain Sunshine should be considered an apocalypse movie because it isn’t dune buggies and mohawks. I found it to be a very powerful film though, about the premature death of our Sun and a group of scientists who shuttle into space to theoretically “re-ignite” the star. Now, I don’t know about the science, but I do know how vivid the imagery is, how relatable the performances are, and I guess also how much of a nerd for space movies I am. Like 28 Days Later (another Boyle/Alex Garland project), this film stares hard the best and worst of human nature, and at the meaning of the end for this group of would-be saviors.


Adam Fenton, Web Manager
Resident Evil Trilogy

With the N1H1 virus scare, as well as the multiple warnings from government medical agencies about our inability to withstand any major viral catastrophe, the Resident Evil trilogy provides an entertaining way to contemplate a not-too-bright future. From showing the degradation of corporate values to the ultimate wasteland that results from their greed, the magnificent Alice (Milla Jovovich) guides us through the genetically altered quest for justice.



Julie Marateck, Speakers Bureau Coordinator
Shaun of the Dead

Zombies. Blood. Mayhem. British Accents. Shaun (Simon Pegg) has a life that stands out as much as a brick in the sidewalk. His routine is the same, his lifestyle vague. All this changes when Zombies have invaded London. Now Shaun must save his broken relationship with his girlfriend, mend family relationships, and fight off the living dead…all while drinking a pint or two. Lots of fun Zombie gore and humorous British dialogue take the audience on a journey in apocalyptic London. We see Shaun go from appliance salesman to Zombie street-fighter.

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

How “relatable” the performances are in “Sunshine”? I have never felt that incompetent or flat-out stupid in my life, even falling-down drunk or under general anesthesia. The only apocalypse to be found in that movie is the fact that someone thought that group of morons was capable of changing a light bulb, let alone restarting the sun. Alex Garland is a pompous twit, and Danny Garland is a dolt for falling for his Swiss-cheese-with-idiots scripts.

Comment by Nemo

Boyle. Sorry. Danny BOYLE. I think of the two of them as attached, somehow. Wonder why….

Comment by Nemo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: