by David Christopher Bell
We all know the basic staples of the approaching end of days – zombies, aliens, nukes, robots, viruses, asteroids, global warming – all those good things. When a movie uses one of these go-to death-day scenarios we can’t help but to shell out the cash to watch it all go to hell on the big screen.
However it takes some real brainpower to pull away from these apocalyptic norms, and when a movie does come along toting some hip new way for us all to die – even if said movie doesn’t pan out – you have to respect their willingness to get creative.
Here are some movies that took a chance and gave us an end we’d never see coming.
10. Everyone Kills Themselves – The Happening
Can’t stress enough the whole ‘movie doesn’t pan out’ aspect to this list. The Happening was probably the defining moment of M. Night Shyamalan’s career in that it had every terrible element of his previous films rolled up into one muddled plot. It was the make or break moment when we could all just nod our heads and say, ‘Yep, okay, I think I’m done with this guy.’
That being said – there was one element to this film that was pretty damn neat, and that was the means in which everyone was being taken out. Everyone in the film kills themselves in the quickest and often brutal ways available. While what science the movie offers as to why this happens in questionable at best, there’s something pretty damn spooky about seeing a guy willingly allow himself to be torn to shreds by tigers, or lay himself down in the path of a lawnmower.
And while the ‘plants are trying to kill us’ angle kind of left the audience laughing as we watched Mark Wahlberg run from the wind like a kid playing imaginary land, there are certain fungi out there that will actually make insects lose their mind. Had this movie been written by someone besides Shyamalan it probably could have actually held water (something that can be said for pretty much all his modern films).
9. Bureaucratic Aliens – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
By far the most insulting mass extinction on this list, in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy earth is laid to waste by aliens – however not for the reasons you’d normally expect. In this case they don’t want our resources or have any feelings of aggression towards us but are rather just following orders. This is probably way worse when you think about it; being murdered out of passion is one thing, being murdered out of indifference and procedure on the other hand is just terrible. As explained in the film, the planet must go to make way for a ‘hyperspatial bypass’ – so it’s not really even for a huge cause, but rather convenience.
What makes this all especially surprising is how quick the whole thing goes down. In most movies about aliens taking over the planet – Independence Day, War Of The Worlds, The Day The Earth Stood Still – there is some amount of foreplay leading up to out global demise. We have time to cope with the fact that aliens exist, then usually attempt to make contact, then learn that the aliens are bad, and finally come to terms with the fact that the aliens want to destroy us all.
In this film, however, we learn that other life exists in space in the same 30 seconds we learn that said life is about to kill us all – it’s just so much in so little time. And then when it happens! No fireballs, no lasers, not even an explosion! Earth is there one second and then, poof – gone! What an asshole way to take out a planet!
8. We Run Out Of Babies – Children Of Men
What a drag. Suddenly being blinked out of the solar system by aliens isn’t such a bad fate; we could be forced to watch our race slowly die off over many years. This is the planetary equivalent of starving to death – as every lady on the planet has, for some unknown reason, become infertile. Suddenly we have no reason as a race to progress, creating the ultimate depression. Really freaking lame. We literally have to just sit around, most likely drunk, and wait for the last one to go. This is why in this scenario there is actually an over-the-counter suicide pill, which of course is a clear sign that things are going to shit.
As if that weren’t horrible enough – it appears that we’re also doing a bang up job of annihilating each other as well. According to the film, the only stable nation left is the UK, and even they are rounding people up into camps. Yeesh – can’t help but to wonder just what the hell went down in the States… one of the few things the movie tells us is that New York City was nuked at some point, so that sucks. Seriously, fictional earth people, you find out that there will be no more babies and the first thing you do is go ape-shit on each other with nukes? Yeah – great idea.
7. A Giant Ball Of Evil – The Fifth Element
Just a big ol’ ball of death – nothing too specific here. No need to explain what the evil is, or why it has targeted earth, or why Milla Jovovich is the only one who can kill it. Keeping it simple: big scary ball in space wants to kills us every five thousand years and Bruce Willis needs to stop it. Fair enough – it’s not like we need any explanation; the film was perfectly awesome as is – but if this was a real life scenario it would be pretty damn irritating to watch all the leaders of the world shrug when asked what exactly was going down. And when it’s all over we’re treated to a brand new moon in the form of the dead evil ball looming like a few miles over earth… that can’t be good for the tides.
This has to be the best Bruce Willis action film… maybe the second best (The Last Boy Scout exists after all). The reason why is that, while Die Hard is fantastic, it’s sort of what we expect from Willis when it comes to action – some grizzled cop making smart-ass remarks while stopping terrorists. But in this film we get to see that same blunt attitude, only in the future and wearing ridiculous orange tank tops.
It’s John McClane… in space. How cool is that?
Also – Gary Oldman… holy shit Gary Oldman – why is this one of his best performances? He’s an amazing actor in everything, and yet this is the role that I can’t get out of my head.
Fun fact: both Bruce Willis’s character and Gary Oldman’s, while being enemies in this film, don’t actually ever meet.
6. Super Smart Monkeys – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
To me the assumption of the original Planet Of The Apes film was that the moment when almost all of mankind was wiped out and the moment that apes became really smart and took over were two different moments. Like… we blew it up like the maniacs that we are, and then like 100 years later apes started talking, then like 100 more years later we found ourselves chained up in cages. The idea that the two events weren’t related is pretty awkward – but as the new film has shown us, it’s way more awkward the other way around.
In like, a single day apes become super smart and mankind begins to dwindle in numbers… really – like one day it all starts! Imagine the newscaster explaining that!
What makes it all even more irritating is that for the rest of the world it isn’t something that can been seen coming – it’s just one lab in San Francisco that nobody knows about that suddenly dooms us all in the primate slavery. Hell – it’s not even the lab; it all really comes down to one dude, James Franco’s dumbass character, who single-handedly created and super smart ape uprising crossed with a deadly virus. Thanks, asshole! With any luck the last breaths of civilization were spent kicking the crap out of that guy.
5. Everyone Is Pecked To Death – The Birds
I really wanted to go with Birdemic just to piss everyone off – but I just couldn’t bring myself to actually do it. The movie never really says for certain that we’re witnessing a bird apocalypse, but it never says otherwise either. The concept seems like it would be only a matter of time; those little buggers are great in numbers up there in the sky, and who knows what they might be plotting. It only makes sense that one day they would swoop down upon us and take over – after all, they can fly and we can’t – that’s a pretty excellent advantage they have.
What’s great about this film is that out of all of Alfred Hitchcock’s more notable work, this is the only one that’s really out there in concept. Like – films like Psycho and Rope and Lifeboat all deal with the horrors made possible by mankind – murder and lying and insanity. This is the only film where Hitchcock decided to go another route and show us the unspeakable terror that could come from birds (of all animals). It’s a bit random when you think about it.
4. Earth Is Eaten – Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
Being food is probably one of the less appealing on this list – but at the same time, at least it serves a purpose. It’s like getting chased by a bear in the woods – worst-case scenario you get to feed a hungry bear. People die much more meaningless deaths than making a bear happy for a day, right? So in the case of Earth being gobbled up by this Galactus fellow, it’s nice to at the very least go out with some kind of function. We can only hope that we made a good meal in the process – the planet certainly looks tasty compared to the crap around us. We’re probably delicious. We’re moist and plenty meaty – but also probably good for you with all those minerals and plant life.
How could you really blame anyone for wanting a bite? I can see maybe the inside of the planet being a little bland, like a muffin or something, but of course you could just eat the skin and move on.
It’s interesting that after this film they never made any more Fantastic Fours – maybe because a giant cloud just ate like 20% of the planet and then exploded like a few miles away – that can’t be good for the climate. Chances are everyone died like a few years after this movie ended.
3. God Is Proven Fallible – Dogma
Leave it to Catholic doctrine to blink everyone out of existence. The idea for this is pretty neat – two angels condemned to spend eternity on Earth have found a loophole that will cleanse them of all sins and allow them to ascend back to Heaven, all they have to do is walk through an archway and die. Sounds easy enough. However by doing this they will have proven God’s fallibility in that they have successfully defied his powers – and by doing this they will effectively undo all that he has done, aka the universe.
It’s kind of like in Minority Report where if they prove one case in which pre-crime is wrong then they prove that every case could be wrong – thus shutting it all down. Only instead of Max von Sydow, it’s God, who probably looks a lot like Max von Sydow.
This would sure suck because there would be no warning, no pain, and nothing afterward. It seems like the no pain thing would be good until you keep in mind that all you’d be left with was nothingness. Pure nothingness – no awareness, no sense of time, and the tedium would be so infinite that you couldn’t even call it tedium. It would be like playing poker online.
2. Everyone Goes Nuts – In The Mouth Of Madness
First off, every movie should end with a shot of Sam Neill watching the entire movie over again while eating popcorn and laughing like a crazy. I don’t care if he was in the film or not, it’s just a way better way to end any film.
It is a tad tricky to pin down just what in the hell goes down in this film, which follows Sam Neill investigating the disappearance of a popular horror novelist by the name of Sutter Cane as well as attempting to retrieve the manuscript for Cane’s final novel. The result is just… just loony toons as Neill’s character faces off with all the type of crazy shenanigans one might expect from a film directed by John Carpenter.
When it is all said and done it becomes very clear that Cane’s book should never see the light of day, as it appears to be the source of great misfortune. By great misfortune I mean a hellish metaworld where insane monsters rip people apart. In the end there is no telling what is reality and what is fantasy – as the book ends up not only being published, but contains the exact same plotline as the film we just watched. The result is the world being overrun with mutant creatures and mass suicide and murder.
So, in terms of the world, not good. First you’d be hearing about this new book everyone loves, then it would become a movie with Sam Neill in it… then you’d start getting a little sick of hearing about it, then everyone would die. Basically, Jurassic Park if it made everyone go crazy and turn into monsters and stuff.
1. Freaking Dragons! – Reign Of Fire
Seriously, dragons? Can you imagine how the media would deal with that one? First off all, we’re not talking about dinosaurs here; dragons don’t exist. They just don’t. And it’s not like the Loch Ness Monster where dragons can even be debated or seen as a hoax or a myth. They’ve pretty much been fictional creatures from the start – so you can probably imagine how odd things would get if they just started showing up, right? Like – what are the odds? It would like Santa showing up, and not just any Santa – jolly fat, magic flying Santa.
That’s the thing – the dragons show up in this film and they are exactly what folklore described them as… like there was no mistranslation over the years. Just big ol’ dragons, flying around like assholes blowing fire at us. What a stupid problem to suddenly have.
And then there would be years of hearing about the war on dragons on the news – the whole world would suddenly shut down until they figured out this whole dragon problem. Forget T.V. and movies – forget international wars or elections – it would just be years of, ‘How the hell do we take care of these freaking dragons? They’re burning everything!’
People would be walking down what’s left of the streets in a daze, wondering just how in only a few years time they went from working at a law firm to ducking giant dragons every 30 seconds. It’s an awkward transition is my point here. And in the end we will have lost – the whole time hoping to God that a bunch of ogres don’t also show up and start wrecking the place.
What’s your favorite way the world ends?