Flixist (Un)Faves: Worst apocalypse movies


AAAHHHHH the fire and burning. It’s the end of the world run for your liv… Oh, it’s actually quite nice out. But I quit my job and sold almost everything I own except for the TV and DVD player? What am I going to do for the rest of my life? I know! I can watch bad movies! Now, which ones to watch.

In case you didn’t know today is the predicted Rapture by some group of Christians out there. In honor of this we were going to do a list of the best apocalypse movies, but then we thought that the Mayan apocalypse date in 2012 would be better for that. So then we decided that in comparison to the Mayan end of days this one was kind of crappy so we chose to do the worst apocalypse films of all time. Then we started doing research and there are waaaaay too many terrible apocalypse movies out there, especially if you include zombie apocalypses.

So the final verdict was that since this is both a terrible prediction of the end of the world and a relatively new one that we would do a list of the top 5 worst, wide release, modern (80s and forward), non-zombie apocalypse movies. You’d think that would have made it easier, but it didn’t. So one more rule was established: unlike today, the apocalypse actually needs to occur. The hero can’t save the day.

Read on for our final list.


As major blockbusters go you might be forgiven for enjoying some parts of 2012. The limo chase through L.A. as it fell apart was pretty darn cool. However, as far as entire movies go, this one sucked. Not only was the entire concept completely ludicrous, but the special effects were all over the place in quality. At some points it looked like a green screen from the 80s. Then — I’m not even go to preface this with a spoiler warning because you shouldn’t be watching the movie — we’re supposed to care about John Cusack and his annoying family surviving? Only a select amount of people are going to survive the end of the world and the people we care about is a limo driver and his family? No.

And the secret military complex where secret boats were being built in China? Yes, you read that right. Hollywood’s best idea for saving humanity when the 2012 apocalypse occurs is secret boats in the Chinese mountains. 


Knowing is one of those movies where the apocalypse actually happens. Sure, there are many movies where the threat of “Judgement Day” is ever-present, and a great deal of those films prominently feature wanton destruction and the death of millions. But Knowing takes it a step further. After Nic Cage runs around with his serious face on for two hours, decoding a list of seemingly random numbers that actually predict several terrible disasters around the globe, he finds out that the last unaccounted for number sequence actually points towards one last event — a solar flare of such magnitude that it will scorch the Earth and end all life. The solar flare does indeed hit the Earth, producing a wall of fire that consumes everything and everyone in its path. The brave and valiant Nic Cage gathers with his loved ones, and in their last moments, they acknowledge that this “isn’t the end.” It’s at that point that you realize that Knowing is actually a not-so-thinly-veiled Scientology propaganda film. You see, Scientologists believe that an intergalactic dictator named Lord Xenu brought his people to Earth over 75 millions years ago, placed them around volcanoes, and set off hydrogen bombs, killing everyone. It is said that the essences of those that died remain on Earth, carrying with them the memories of this event. These memories are often referred to as “The Wall of Fire”.

But don’t worry, not everyone dies! You see, before the flare hits, Nic Cage’s son and his little lady friend are visited by space aliens, who take them away from Earth in their intergalactic vessel and dump them on a new planet where they can bone the day away in order to populate a new society. And don’t worry about all those spoilers, because this movie sucks.

Deep Impact

Do we all remember the war of the meteor movies in the 90s? Armageddon and Deep Impact were the two big ones and when it came down to it Armageddon clearly won the box office and culture meme contest. Of course beating Deep Impact wasn’t all that difficult to do. A schmaltzy, cliche pile of sentimentality that someone accidentally took off Lifetime and put a meteor hitting earth into, the film careens around trying to make being stuck in traffic exciting.

What’s even worse is that the film only half commits to the apocalypse. After the comet gets split in half the first piece hits the ocean, but evidentally that only hurts the the coasts of the continents on the Atlantic. The other fragment, which was presumably carrying the world destroying special kind of comet rock is successfully diverted. If you’re going to kill millions, upon millions of people you have to fully commit. Going half way is just a tease, especially when most of your final apocalypse is shots of New York and Tea Leoni hugging Maximillian Schell on a beach. Even worse is the aggravation the movie causes because all those people died when they could have simply moved the fuck away from the coastline. With the warning time they had they all could have walked to Kansas without much of an issue.

Planet of the Apes (2001)

We have a sneaking suspicion that this movies place on the list will be usurped by its prequel this summer, but as for now it holds on. Just to be clear we are talking about the 2001 remake directed by Tim Burton, not the science fiction classic with Charleton Heston. Instead of the classic’s creative and thoughtful story we get an action-filled, preachy movie starring Marky E. Mark (he’s come a long way since then) and NOT TAKING PLACE ON EARTH AT ALL. The first terrible thing is that they remade the movie at all because one of the biggest parts of Planet of the Apes was finding out that it was Earth, so they had to come up with some other twist since everyone knew that one and that twist was a time traveling plot so dumb that by the time the end rolls around you accept it completely because you’ve been mired in stupid for the past 2 hours anyway.

That ending is, of course, our hero returning to earth to find the Lincoln Memorial is now a monkey. Yes, time has been changed so dramatically that apes now rule earth, but Washington D.C. still looks exactly the same. I suppose we should be happy about it though because if the ending weren’t tacked on there then the monkey apocalypse wouldn’t have technically happened in the film and we couldn’t put it on this list.

Want more apocalyptic fun? Check out Destructoid’s article on gaming during the apocalypse.

Left Behind

OK, so maybe we’re bending the rules a bit with this one since it isn’t the biggest budgeted thing in the world but how could we celebrate a fake Rapture without mentioning the mother of all Rapture fiction, Left Behind. If you haven’t read the controvertial books they’re about the end times and are pretty terrible all around, but not as terrible as this movie is. Obviously made for whatever crazed part of Christianity likes to sit around and think how awesome it will be when all these damn sinners are dead the film is long, torturous and completely lacking in any sort of end times violence.

The movie also stars Kirk Cameron (from Growing Pains) and he is just, well, special. The whole thing was actually released in theaters pretty widely, but was first released on VHS and DVD. It feels even more low budget than you would guess, and is written like one of those movies you’d watch in school that was trying really hard to teach you something. The lesson? You’re going to die unless you do as the Bible says.

For more end times fun check Destructoid’s best apocalypse games and Japanator’s favorite end of the worlds.

Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Flixist. He has worked as a critic for more than a decade, reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and videogames. He will talk your ear off about James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.