WORLD GONE WILD: A Survivor's Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies by David J. Moore
Review by Lee Sobel (8/16/20)
5 out of 5 stars
Has the pandemic got you thinking, could this be the end of the world? Are we living in an 80's b-movie with plague-crazed zombie mutants? If so, where's my custom car with blades coming out of the sides or a machine gun mounted on the hood?
My fear that the world is coming to an end led me to a re-appreciation of the Post Apocalyptic Sci-Fi movie. Even the bad ones, and there are SO many bad ones, have some fun stuff with cheesy orange skies, giant scorpions (or rats, roaches or spiders) and characters with mohawks and shoulder pads. I thought, maybe there's a book that lists all of these movies and there is -- it's called WORLD GONE WILD: A Survivor's Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies and it's written by David J. Moore. This book is nearly 500 pages and it's a large coffee table size book with tons of photos from these movies. It's a visual feast for Post-Apocalyptic movie fans and certainly a must-have if you count the MAD MAX
franchise as among your fave flicks. I dare you to read this entire book -- I tried but it's just so big and you very quickly realize that just like any genre, there are always a million poor imitations. How Moore watched every single movie in this book boggles my mind -- I'd need to check in at the loony bin if I saw every single film in this book. Eegad.
What I learned about myself is that as much of a fan of this genre as I think I am, I'm actually a Post Apocalyptic Sci-Fi movie snob. Author Moore makes it easy for you to find the movies he has identified as the best of the genre and I eagerly dove in and watched as many of those as possible but a lot of them disappointed me. For one thing, there's only so many movies you can watch where it takes place after the world has been nuked before they all blur together. There's always one or maybe a few survivors who seem to have survived way too easily and conveniently and then there's a horde of freakazoids trying to get gasoline, oil, water or food, and who either want to kill our heroes or eat them. Either way, the future is not looking good after the world is decimated by WW III. Another thing about these movies is that so many of them are shot in the desert because it's too expensive to try to make dystopian New York City look bombed out. I watched so many of these movies that I felt like I could taste the sand. My favorite ones are set in urban wastelands -- ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK is definitely one of the best of those!
Even though your brain starts to feel like Cheez Whiz after watching DAMNATION ALLEY, A BOY AND HIS DOG, and 2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK (or any of the other umpteen Italian made badly dubbed ones), you can convince yourself that these movies are training you to know how to survive when the world goes topsy-turvy. I've already started welding big iron doors over the top and sides of my car so when Vernon Wells shoots at me, the bullets will just bounce off my vehicle.
The MAD MAX franchise, IMHO, reigns as king and few other movies even come close. That said, there are a number of these movies that you should see because they are fun as hell. I AM LEGEND (2007) starring Will Smith is very well made. I actually like Kevin Costner's mega-bomb, WATERWORLD, which was pitched as "Max Max on the ocean" and that is pretty much what you get. You can't go wrong with Dennis Hopper chewing up the scenery as the bad guy. Then you have more thoughtful movies like MIRACLE MILE and THE ROAD which are well made but frankly depressing. When these end of the world movies have a little more money in the budget they can be very exciting visually. The book made me go watch the movie DREDD for instance. Not JUDGE DREDD (1995) with Stallone, which sucked, but DREDD (2012) starring Karl Urban which...well, I'm not going to describe it because it's so good you should just watch it not knowing anything about it.
After reading the book I realized that as much as I have enjoyed the work of director Mark L. Lester over the years, I somehow never watched CLASS OF 1999. Lucky me, I've had a DVD of it for more than ten years still with the shrink wrap on it. Watched it and loved the hell out of it! I then discovered there is a European blu ray of the movie with extras and a director's commentary track and as I have a region free blu ray player, I had to have it. That led me to interviewing the movie's screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner and you can find that interview on this site. So, thank you David J. Moore, for that! And I highly recommend this book if you want to do a deep, deep, deep dive into movies depicting the end of the world, which is what I've been fearing we're heading toward during this pandemic. You may as well be prepare for The End. Well, the end of this review anyway.