Armageddon Films FAQ can be called a companion volume to Applause Books’ Horror Films FAQ in that there is some overlap. A few of the zombie films mentioned in Horror Films are also classified as Armageddon films, but most movies about the end of civilization stand in their own distinct genre.
Author Dale Sherman covers over 20 genres of end-of-the world flicks in Armageddon Films FAQ. Body snatching, Satan, technology, the Rapture, evil animals, zombies, and aliens are just a few of the reasons humans cease to exist in the film world. The wealth of world-over films run the gamut from classics like Night of the Living Dead to blockbusters like Independence Day and cult films like John Boorman’s Zardoz.
Some end of the world novels have remained unfilmed, and Sherman addresses this in the chapter “Ten Famous Apocalyptic Novels Never Turned into Major Films.” He imagines what showbiz movers and shakers would say about film versions of A Canticle for Lebowitz, The Scarlet Plague, and other titles. Of Arthur C.Clarke’s Childhood’s End, the imagery studio head says, “If…..the agent can get Will Smith to express interest, we’ll take another look at it.”
Hollywood's take on Armageddon has sold film tickets from cinema’s early days, beginning with 1924’s Last Man on Earth. The end of the world genre reached its first apex in the 1950s and early 1960s with the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and anti-nuclear war films including On the Beach and Failsafe. Armageddon Films FAQ has a few black and white photos of classic movie posters from this era, including a people-running-away-from-certain destruction cheesefest in the illustration for Rocket Attack USA.
One of the most identifiable end of the world plots involves a group of survivors of the nuclear war/virus, etc that slayed the rest of mankind. Left with the fallout, they must deal with other crazed survivors (Mad Max), out-of-control plants (Day of the Triffids), or zombies, (Night of the Living Dead), and Sherman dissects these with insightful, often witty, observations.
Sherman’s commentary and reviews on each film vary in length, depending on the film’s merit and popularity. There’s even a chapter on music videos with end-of-the-world storylines. Who can forget the omnipresent "99 LuftBalloons" on MTV in the ’80s?
End-of-the-world movies have captivated filmgoers for close to a century. And it seems filmdom’s preoccupation with the end of the world ranks right up there with imaginary serial killers run amuck.
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