Avon Theatre’s picks for the five best doomsday flicks

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Pictured: Peter Sellers stars in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

Wasn’t the world supposed to end today? You know, raining fire, killer earthquakes, “Armageddon”-style asteroids?

Well, the deadline for the supposed Mayan apocalypse has passed, and we’re all still in one piece! But for those of you still intrigued by the prospect of a cataclysmic, Earth-shattering event (personally, I envisioned everything being pulled into a black hole), there are plenty of flicks that will give you an idea of what doomsday would look like.

Adam Birnbaum, the director of film programming at Stamford’s Avon Theatre, shared five of his favorite apocalypse (and post apocalypse) films with Culture Cache. End of the world movie party anyone?

5. Southland Tales (2006)
“What the …!” is what I remember saying to myself more than once as I alternated between giggles and groans while watching Richard Kelly’s (Donnie Darko) gonzo, bloated, kitchen sink of a movie that presents a satirical, dystopian vision of America.   While it’s certainly not a “classic” in the classic sense of the word, and I’m still not sure whether it is spectacular in all of its excess or just spectacularly awful, it’s a unique and memorable train wreck of a film.

4. Fantastic Planet (1973)
This seemingly oft-overlooked and forgotten animated French science fiction film from director René Laloux finds the future of our planet in flux as the “Oms” and “Draags” try to coexist in a post-apocalyptic world.  Featuring some of the most distinctly surreal and visionary imagery, as well as a wonderful music score that has been frequently sampled by other artists over the years, this is a motion picture that really merits rediscovery.

3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The brilliance and timelessness of George A. Romero’s superior in all aspects follow up to Night of the Living Dead is the film’s ability to function effortlessly as a social commentary on mass culture and consumerism, while delivering the goods in all the ways that a zombie horror movie should.  There are many imitators but this is still the benchmark.

2. (Tie) Brazil (1985) and Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Ten years separate director Terry Gilliam’s two masterful entrants; Brazil, a sprawling, Orwellian-like dystopian satire about the future of our society, and Twelve Monkeys, a pre/post-apocalypse time-travel sci-fi fantasy film (and homage to La Jetee).  Each film remains indelible as creative, high concept, and aesthetically advanced movies go, thereby giving Gilliam his own slot on this list, and a pass for the numerous other equally ambitious flops he’s delivered throughout a checkered career.

1. Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stopped Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)
What would happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button?!  Director Stanley Kubrick’s superb,  absurdist, timely take on the Cold War finds Peter Sellers setting a pitch perfect tone in the lead role, and supported by the stellar George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, and Slim Pickens.  Not only is it one of the best black comedies and doomsday movies, it is arguably one of the greatest American movies ever made.  An outright all-time classic!

Scott Gargan

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