Thursday, January 19, 2017

24 Hours of Movies: It's the End of the World As We Know It

by Patrick Bromley
This is a big week because it's the start of the fucking apocalypse, so let's watch some movies to get us ready for the End of Days.

10 a.m. - Mad Max (1979, dir. George Miller)
I like all four of George Miller's Mad Max movies -- three of which I think are legitimately great and one of which is good -- but the reason I want to start with the original (versus, say, The Road Warrior) is because it's one of the few apocalyptic movies that's set at the brink of the apocalypse. We can tell things are breaking down but we're not murdering each other for gasoline quite yet. You know, like now. While not as imaginative or flashy as later installments, I love the lean toughness of the original, still one of the best examples of low-budget action filmmaking ever made. If this doesn't kick things off the right way, I don't know what would.

11:30 a.m. - Night of the Comet (1984, dir. Thom Eberhardt)
One of the challenges of programming a marathon like this with a super specific theme is that it's easy to wind up with too many of the same movie, which will make sitting through 24 hours incredibly repetitive and tiresome. The trick is to find films that fit the theme but do so with a different tone or approach, which is why Night of the Comet goes second. It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads the site that I'm including this one because I love it, but it's also a good way to mix things up early on and include a teen comedy that's also a horror movie and a really cool apocalyptic movie. When most of the world is gone in a couple of weeks, I can think of far worse things than to be trapped in a mall with Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart.

1:15 p.m. - A Boy and His Dog (1975, dir. L.Q. Jones)
To my great shame, I still haven't seen this movie. It's good to sneak some of these first-time viewings into a marathon like this because it keeps me on my game; rather than settling in to 24 hours of familiarity, I get to have a couple of brand new experiences, too. I know very little about the film except that it stars Don Johnson (one, please) and takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. It's one of those titles I've known my entire life but have never managed to check out, so it's nice that I can get it in just under the wire before the planet explodes.

3:00 p.m. - Children of Men (2006, dir. Alfonso Cuarón)
I had originally planned to program this one a little later in the lineup -- probably during the 7 p.m. primetime slot -- but in wanting to keep mixing up the tones of what we're watching it's best to watch this one next. Alfonso Cuarón dystopian sci-fi drama is a bona fide new classic and a movie that is as showy in its form as it is daring. When the world starts to end, I suspect this is what it's going to actually feel like. Sure, it's a little heavy this early in the lineup, but I'd rather space the really depressing ones out. Besides, the filmmaking on display is invigorating enough to compensate for the darkness in tone.

5 p.m. - Idiocracy (2006, dir. Mike Judge)
After Children of Men we're going to need to lighten the mood some before this whole thing starts to feel as oppressive as the next four years are going to be. So it was going to be either This is the End or this movie programmed in this spot, but I have to go with Idiocracy because it has become a documentary. My wife and I were among the very, very few people who actually got to see this when Fox shamefully dumped it into a handful of theaters back in 2006, and even then we knew we had just seen something truly special. It has been rewarding to see the movie get discovered over the last decade and become such a cult classic. Because of its production/post-production problems, I will concede that its construction is a disaster, but the jokes and (especially) the ideas contained within the movie make it the most prescient and important comedy of the last 20 years. If we're hungry during this one, we could order up some Carl's Jr. Carl's Jr: Fuck you, I'm eating.

6:30 p.m. - Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973, dir. J. Lee Thompson)
I know the obvious pick for an apocalypse marathon would be the original 1968 classic, but I don't want every pick to be completely predictable and a lot of them have been so far (especially if you know me). The final entry in the original series of Apes movies is probably the least good, but goddamn if I don't still love it. Apes with guns? Yes. J. Lee Thompson? Yes. I'll be sure to watch the 96-minute "unrated" version, which is insanely violent and bloody for a movie that went out with a "G" rating in its theatrically released form.

8:15 p.m. - The Divide (2011, dir. Xavier Gens)
I mean, if we're gonna get dark let's get really fucking dark. Xavier Gens' movie about a group of strangers (among them Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance, Rosanna Arquette and Michael Biehn) who are locked together in a bomb shelter when the nuclear apocalypse hits is maybe the harshest indictment of humans turning against their fellow humans -- a common theme in these movies -- ever put to screen. It's tough going. It's also really well acted, beautifully shot (for all its insane ugliness) and can never be accused of not committing to the bit. For all its nihilism and insanity, The Divide is probably the movie in this lineup that most closely captures the actual mood of the country right now.

10:15 p.m. - Death Race 2000 (1975, dir. Paul Bartel)
Now that The Divide has us wanting to kill ourselves, let's lighten the mood considerably with this masterful black comedy courtesy of Paul Bartel and the great Roger Corman. Often imitated, never duplicated, the original Death Race 2000 is a perfect movie and one of my all-time favorites. It executes its concept so completely and is so funny and offbeat and entertaining that it cheers me up every time I watch it. Stallone is hilarious, David Carradine is cool, Mary Woronov is super foxy and Martin Kove...well, Martin Kove's performance is just a touch out of date. I love this movie so much.

11:45 p.m. - She (1982, dir. Avi Nesher)
Here's a movie that's been recommended to me frequently and passionately by people whose opinions I trust (Hi, Chaybee and E.S.A.A.D.!), so here's the perfect opportunity to finally check it out. A post-apocalyptic movie starring Sandahl Bergman as a warrior woman of the wasteland is a super easy sell for me, and I suspect this one's just weird enough to make a perfect transition into the overnight section of our marathon.

1:30 a.m. - Rats: Night of Terror (1984, dir. Bruno Mattei)
Here we go. The Italians get their rightful 2 a.m. slot and I get to watch this entertaining piece of shit that combines the killer animal movie with apocalyptic horror. Legendary hack Bruno Mattei directs the way he always does -- badly -- with an uncredited assist from Troll 2 auteur Claudio Fragasso. You know what you're in for. I'm not exaggerating when I say this movie has one of the most fucking insane final shots of any movie in history. I saw it coming just a few seconds before the reveal and I still couldn't have been happier that the film actually went there. Let's watch it just for that reason.

3:30 a.m. - The New Barbarians (1983, dir. Enzo Castellari)
Let's follow up one Italian exploitation movie that's not very good with one that is completely awesome. The New Barbarians -- aka Warriors of the Wasteland, yet another variation on The Road Warrior -- is super colorful and showcases amazing stunts that feel genuinely dangerous, probably because they were. Fred Williamson is on hand wearing crazy armor and shooting exploding arrows at people, which means we are treated to SO MANY shots of expendable bad guys blowing up and showering down limbs all over the desert. It never stops being the best thing ever. If that's not enough (that is enough), Giovanni Frezza is on hand to play a child mechanic who carries around a human ear. Sometimes these middle-of-the-night movies challenge our stamina, but there's no fucking way anyone is falling asleep during The New Barbarians. Just writing about it makes me want to rewatch it right now.

5:15 a.m. - Radioactive Dreams (1985, dir. Albert Pyun)
No way I'm programming an end-of-the-world marathon and not including something from my boy Albert Pyun, who uses the apocalypse the way Scorsese uses New York. Here's an entry made during his creative peak, starring Michael Dudikoff and John Stockwell as two young men raised in a bomb shelter with only hard boiled detective noir to keep them company who venture out into the wasteland for the first time and wind up in the middle of a chase for the keys to the last nuclear missile in existence. Only in the '80s. I'm a big fan of this movie, which is still hard to come by and has never even received a DVD release. Someone needs to get this thing out on Blu-ray.

7 a.m. - Turbo Kid (2015, dir. François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell)
Like the carrot at the end of the stick, 2015's Turbo Kid can be our reward for having survived 21 hours of apocalyptic science fiction. Sure, it's even more apocalyptic science fiction, but it's a movie that's been informed by pretty much every other movie in this lineup -- not a parody, but an homage that goes well beyond "affectionate." There are few films released in recent years that make me happier than this one, and knowing that it's waiting for us here in the penultimate slot should hopefully get us through even the roughest of patches. Like that middle hour of Rats: Night of Terror.

8:45 a.m. - Southland Tales (2007, dir. Richard Kelly)
And so we end not with a whimper, but with a bang. I know there's not a lot of love for this movie. It's a mess and it's about three times more ambitious than its execution, but I can't help but be intoxicated by writer/director Richard Kelly's delirious attempt at making something truly epic. Between a screenplay that's completely unwieldy (you're supposed to have read an entire graphic novel before you can make sense of the plot), a cast that combines professional wrestlers, SNL alumni, Kevin Smith in heavy prosthetics and Wallace Shawn, plus a post-Cannes gutting of the original cut, Southland Tales is the movie that inspired the phrase "ambitious failure." Except I don't think it's a failure. The mix of tones and performance styles don't always work, but there are so many ideas here and so many genuinely terrific moments of filmmaking -- you may not dig the whole, but have to at least concede that there are some incredible parts -- that I will never not love the movie.

With that, we can begin the actual apocalypse. So long, and thanks for all the fish.


  1. I can't imagine doing an apocalypse line up without The Quiet Earth, but can't argue with too many of these picks either.

    1. Quiet earth is very slow paced, kinda hard to watch in a movie marathon like this.

      Maybe at the beginning

  2. Southland tales, you have to do a podcast about that one. I love it so much

    1. I have been asking for this for years. I also love it so much.

  3. Compare Southland Tales 2007 Rock to 2017 Baywatch Rock and it's crazy to not think about what PED's he must take.

  4. I love your marathon. I can't necessarily handle Italian horror/exploitation and the like most of the time, though, so I think I'll swap out those two for This is The End (for a bit of levity in the middle) and Snowpiercer (placing it as the concluding movie for a glimmer of hope at the very end).

    As for what IS on the list, I'll take any excuse to see Mad Max and Children of Men in the same lineup.

    1. Oops, my bad. I guess I glossed over the part where you had considered This is the End.

  5. Just watched They Live the other night. I think it's more relevant now than when it was released.

  6. Hi Patrick! No one is even prepared enough for what "She" actually has in store for them. It's only a matter of time till Drafthouse jumps on that one.

    1. Many lesser films have received the deluxe treatment for sure.

    2. There is nothing like it. It is magnificent.

  7. I love Children of Men but it's a movie I almost never revisit because it's so draining for me. I think if I watched that and The Road back to back it would feel like 24 hours to me.

  8. Great list. I personally am planning a double feature of They Live and Society.

  9. Glaring omission: MIRACLE MILE! Have you ever seen it? Steeped in 80's style but still an amazing ride. If you haven't seen it, it's MUST watch! Blue ray looks great. SEE IT! SEE IT!

  10. CUTTERMAN, Miracle Mile absolutely deserves a place on the list. Another omission, if I may say so, is the lack of any b&w movies. Some nominations:

    - Dr. Strangelove
    - The Mist (Director's b&w version)
    - Though I haven't seen it, The World, The Flesh And The Devil sounds worth a look.

  11. Nice Douglas Adams reference at the end there, this looks like a fun line up, you always choose well

  12. Only here is Albert Pyun compared to Martin Scorsese.

  13. I'm glad you mentioned Idiocracy, and that you loved it. It's the only movie that I made a personal request for a podcast by fthismovie (with a bigger longer uncut would be cool too).

    Of all the 24 hour movie schedules, I this is the one I'm most likely to do. Some great movies I'd love to see again, some movies I've been meaning to see, and some new ones that sound terrific.

  14. Since this includes movies where destruction comes from outside of Earth, can I recommend an Australian movie called "These Final Hours" from 2013 (
    The Earth is being destroyed slowly one hemisphere at a time with Australia being the last part to be effected. A guy's headed for an end of the world party when he has to rescue a 12 year old girl who's trying to find her father. Great movie.

  15. Politics *sigh* I think I'm the only one in here that understands that the apocalypse won't begin with anyone's least favorite politician but when uwe bowl wins an oscar.