2016 is dead, welcome to the future! Change is in the air and the world seems to be in a general state of unrest. Many genre buffs feel like we’re living some kind of terrifying science fiction movie gone wrong. While this writer is trying to remain optimistic about the future, I thought I’d let my more cynical side take over for an article. If we do indeed end up moving towards some kind of dystopia, here’s a few films to help you get ready for life in 2017!
Last Man on Earth (1964)
Vincent Price is the last living man in a world overrun by the blood sucking undead. This Italian-American co-production was the first attempt to film Richard Matheson’s vampire epic, I am Legend and it has a clear influence on the many zombie films that follow it. Coming from an era when post-apocalyptic films were a rarity, this movie really delivers in spite of its shoestring budget. The movie is in the public domain and is easy to find on the internet, so watch it soon.
Soylent Green (1973)
This cult classic has everything you could want. It tackles everything from global warming to over population. Plus, Charlton Heston is at his best as the cop from the futuristic world of 2022! The movie is one of the earliest examples of sci-noir and is still a favorite of genre nuts all over the world.
Paul Verhoeven’s mash-up of muscled up 80’s action, Cyberpunk, and the Frankenstein legend births a movie hero like no other. The “near future” feel of the film shows us a world where corporations and the government have intertwined to a point where you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. Sound familiar? Still timely thirty years later, RoboCop’s message of anti-authoritarianism in the face of a greedy ruling class might be more important than ever. Try to not get Basil Poledouris’ pounding, synth-infused score stuck in your head. It’s one of my favorite films for a good reason.
They Live (1988)
The sci-horror movie that’s here to kick ass and chew bubblegum and we’re all out of bubblegum. They Live comes from Halloween mastermind, John Carpenter. Some would argue it’s his best film. It’s easy to see why as it’s mix of action, comedy, and horror is a real winner. Roddy Piper plays a blue collar drifter who stumbles on a dark secret. The Earth is secretly run by zombie-looking aliens and he’s the only man able to see them because of some special sunglasses. Like RoboCop, this was initially a satire of Reagan era greed, but it still packs a punch in 2017.
The City of Lost Children (1995)
For those wanting a little retro in their future, look no further than this whimsical French dystopian nightmare. A circus strongman played by cult favorite actor Ron Perlman uncovers a plot by a mad scientist to kidnap children. This movie was a huge influence on the genre of what we now think of as “steampunk” and every frame drips with style. Even if you don’t normally enjoy foreign films, this one is well worth getting outside of your comfort zone.
Six String Samurai (1998)
A rockabilly version of Mad Max with a whoop ass soundtrack by the Red Elvises? What’s not to love! Our hero, played by martial arts expert, Jeffrey Falcon is a sword-wielding version of Buddy Holly, crossing the wasteland to replace fallen king Elvis in Lost Vegas. Along the way he picks up an unnamed boy as a sidekick and eventually clashes with the evil “Death” who looks a lot like Slash from Guns & Roses. Drawing influences from everything from the Wizard of Oz to Lonewolf and Cub, this is a very offbeat look at the apocalypse. The world seen here is a bittersweet eulogy to 20th century America. For added 2017 poignancy, the American waste land is ruled over by Russia. Not easy to find these days but well worth tracking down.
From the director of Dog Soldiers and the Descent, Neil Marshall’s film brags that “mankind has an expiration date!” In the near future, a deadly virus has wiped out much of Scotland. As a result, the British government has built a wall to quarantine the rest of Britain. If the scenario of one country walling off another country doesn’t ring some apocalypse bells, I’m not sure what else would. That setup allows Marshall to draw inspiration from films ranging from Escape from New York to The Road Warrior. He even throws in a tribe that has taken over a castle and are living like medieval knights to boot. It hasn’t quite reached the cult status of Marshall’s other works, but in the current political climate it’s worth a new look. For the apolitical among us, it does have glorious action scenes and gleeful gore.
So, is the end nigh? Are we already living in a dystopian world? Only time will tell, but in the meantime you can take in a movie or two. Hopefully seeing these futures gone wrong can help us change the way we see the present day and work towards something brighter and better.