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Classic Ten – End of the World Scenarios


The Basilica’s dome rolling over hoards of people. Rio’s Christ the Redeemer
crumbling from his majestic perch. Whole sheets of rock and earth
breaking apart. That’s what the End of Days looks like in Roland Emmerich’s 2012, at least. With the long-awaited release of this sure-to-be blockbuster, we wonder, what are the most terrifying
end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it scenarios ever played out on the
big screen? These are the ten scenarios that get us crying for Mama.

10. 2012 (2009)
“We
were warned” is the tagline of Emmerich’s latest doomsday flick, in which
we follow John Cusack as he struggles to survive all-encompassing destruction. You’re only safe in an airplane as the
Earth’s surface slides underwater. Even ships falter in the blood-hungry seas. There’s nowhere to hide.
And the scariest part? It’s based on real Mayan predictions! So it could
really happen! (Maybe.)

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9. The Fifth Element (1997)
This intergalactic thriller might have placed higher on the list if not for the fact that it’s set in a weird futuristic New York City where cabs can fly — so it feels pretty removed from reality. The movie’s final scenes, in which Bruce Willis’ cab driver and Milla Jovovich’s alien-being hottie are racing against time to prevent The Great Evil from prevailing, well… let’s just say you wouldn’t want to be either of them.

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8. The Road (2009)
Though the devastating event is left unspecified in this bleak Cormac McCarthy-based tale, the movie shows all too
vividly how the human race would conduct itself in a
post-apocalyptic nightmare. Basically, once all other life dies out,  we’ll wander the
roads on foot scavenging through deserted homes, fending off fiends who have gone to the dark side,
and wondering if we’re the only good guys left.

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7. Terminator Salvation (2009)
Earth
is reduced to the pure hell of war in 2018, when humans are fighting to
survive the horrifying robot takeover. Life as we know it is reduced to dirt, death,
explosions and the ever-evolving capabilities of the giant Skynet
force. One is tempted to believe in resistance leader Christian Bale,
but his chances seem futile: The machines
outnumber us, they throw a superhuman punch, and they can work around
the clock, no sleep required. Good luck, humans.

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6. Children of Men (2006)
The human race watches its extinction slowly and miserably creep closer
as a mysterious epidemic of infertility sweeps the planet. This is
another study of human nature’s less attractive tendencies: Most
succumb to an understandable what’s-the-freaking-point attitude,
and despair causes them to lash out in random violence
which goes unchecked because governments have fallen apart.  

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5. War of the Worlds (2005)
It’s just a regular day, and precocious Dakota Fanning is acting like
she’s 30, per usual. And then there’s an
alien invasion, in which giant insect robots shoot into the
earth, rise up, and set about exterminating mankind. There’s
nowhere to run, and the military’s bullets do little by way of counterattack. Alas, the fact that these aliens are undone by mere bacteria (the first thing any scifi fan would explore!) lands this scenario at the middle of the list.

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4. 28 Days Later (2002)
Escaped
lab monkeys have infected the human race with a germ that turns people into homicidal maniacs — hence the
germ’s name, Rage. With no enemy but ourselves, we go on a
collective killing rampage, and it only takes four weeks to destroy
civilization. Not too shabby! But since we’re not technically in danger of getting wiped out, this one fails to crack the top three. Unlike…

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3. The Matrix (1999)
Perhaps no movie scene of human despair has been more chilling than the
revelation in this flick that humans, while not yet wiped out, have
been relegated to vast energy farms, living their entire lives
unconscious in goo-filled pod-wombs. Imagine. It’s the classic
brain-in-a-vat scenario with a horrifying twist: Life — the “matrix” — is
being controlled and manipulated by sinister machines created by,
naturally, humans. (Will we ever learn?)

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2. Armageddon (1998)
Is this Michael Bay movie the ne plus ultra of end-of-days flicks?
Almost. Not only have scary meteorites already destroyed New York City
and Shanghai, there’s a Texas-sized asteroid en route that
will decimate all life on the planet.
Where’s Bruce Willis when you need him? Oh, that’s right: He’s on a
rocket ship heading straight for the asteroid, which he plans to blow
up upon arrival. Cue the Aerosmith ballad, y’all! It’s time for number one…

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1. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Does Roland Emmerich have a lock on this genre or what? His admittedly
belief-straining movie about climate change-induced global blizzards clocks in at number one for the slow,
terrifying scenario it presents: The whole world freezes to
death. Unlike most of the other pics on this list, there’s no big boom wipeout
(Read: Painless) nor monsters to potentially defeat (Read: Hopeful!)…
just a long, cold, deadly winter. Brr.

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