My reflections over the wasteland movie-genre
March 21, 2007
Born in the late seventies I grew up in sweden watching a lot of eighties movies, mostly of which has been covered in a lot of articles here on retrojunk.
One of my favorite moviegenres is the “post-apocalyptic-sci-fi-adventure”-movies which really blossomed during the eighties, and I thought I would give you a tour of some of the ups and down of the genre. Now I cant say that I´ve seen EVERY movie of the genre, partly because of;
1- There seem to have been far more bad movies than there have been good ones…Too low budget doesn’t relly work…something has to blow up !
2- I’m not a total geek. I just like the thought of earth being turned into a giant desert full of evil mutant gangs driving sand-buggys.

I started of wanting to do a top 5 list, but I noticed that my “honorable mention” list was growing out of proportions. So im just gonna go through my “wasteland-expriences” that are “must-see” and those to “avoid”. Please comment on movies that I don’t mention here, which you would recommend me and everyone else who reads these articles to have a look at.

First I’m going to start of with my 5 favorite movies, and then go on with a couple of post-80´s productions, and also a few semi-wasteland stuff. So enjoy….

Mad Max – Roadwarrior

I have chosen to skip the “first part” of the Madmax series, because it’s not that “wasteland”, and because I think it sucks. Roadwarrior however, is a little jewel in my wasteland collection… The world has been recently apocalypted, evil gangs, led by Jason’s younger brother with a Swedish accent, roam the desert In search of oil. The movie features great car/train chases, inbreed children throwing deadly boomerangs, big explosions, and of course Mel as the lone ranger anti-hero. What more could you want?? (Maybe some nudity, but hey…who’s perfect?) Definetly a must see…
An article concerning the postapocalyptic wasteland movies could not be complete without the one film that made Mel Gibson into what he is today…hmmmm, wait minute, I take that back….

Mad Max – Beyond thunderdome

When I was younger I saw “beyond thunderdome”, probably around the time it was released on VHS here in sweden, and I loved it. I hadn’t seen roadwarrior or “the first one” yet, but I would say that “thunderdome” worked pretty good as a standalone movie. There are so many classic characters in there; such as for example MasterBlaster, and those classic quotes “Who runs bartertown ?”, and “two men enters, one man leaves!”.
If it was a good choice however to include Tina Turner in the role as Auntie Entety can be discussed. However, back in the days I didn’t care that much about her. Now though I feel she doesn’t quite cut it.(And I hate the final score “we don’t need another hero”)..
As far as the movie goes you can say that it´s and amazing ride that gives you sand between your teeth the way it aught to be.


This one is really in the grey area between being a suckass bad movie or being the number-one wasteland movie ever. The first 15 minutes you’ll be glued to the screen seeing Carl McCoy (Fields of the Nephilim) in his lifetime achievement as a wasteland scavenger searching the dunes for spareparts …. Then all of a sudden Lemmy (motörhead) shows up as a taxi driver, and by then you know this might be the best film you’ve ever seen, and to top it of, Iggy Pop is a radioshow host….
The sad thing is that after this splendid opening, the movie turns into a slow and smudgy lovestory taking place in an apartment….ALL THE TIME…sigh. Nothing is good about the last hour of the film…but keeping the first 15 minutes in mind you´ll manage seeing it through until the end…less apartment romantica, and more wasteland brutalica !!
Someone told me “Hardware” was actually a Judge Dredd comic-episode turned into a movie.

Damnation Alley

My first wasteland movie… It was shot in -77, and perhaps I saw it somewhere round 84-86.? Although I havnt seen it since, some scenes have stuck in my mind. If I’m not mistaking, it is about some sort of rescue-mission going out into the wasteland to find survivors in some kind of super-offroad-bus. I remember the skies having all sorts of weird colors, and this black guy being eaten by giant cockroaches. I don’t even remember how it ended, but Damnation Alley played an important role as being the film that made me appreciate the genre.

Revenge of the Jugger/The Blood of heroes

I stumbled over this little gem about 15 years ago, and it turned out to be my no.1 wasteland movie, ever!!. In the future after the great war, people are surviving in the wasteland in small villages. In the future you play a game that resembles football. The game is played by taking a dogs head across a field crowded with people who tries to beat the shit out of you with chains and stuff. The movie is about one of these teams who roam the wasteland playing every village-team they find. Although what they really want is to play in the major league of the seven cities…like champions league I guess…
Here we have a scarred Rutger Hauer as the teamleader who once used to play the major leagues, and his teammates dreaming of playing in the cities.
This movie has it all…underground cities, large deserts….everything, even some sex…..not with Rutger though, thank god.
This is a “underdog” of the wasteland genre which a lot of people have never heard of, maybe that’s partly why I love it so much.. If you like these kinds of movies you’ll have to see this one. !! That’s an order.
What happened!!??
During the seventies and eighties the cold war was on everybody mind (not my mind, I wasn’t that was more important for me to get up in mornings to see DJ catshow), perhaps that’s why these movies were so popular to make..

So when the coldwar was over and the german wall was torn down nobody cared about the world coming to an end in a nuclear holocaust….all but one man….and he was Kevin Costner!?... He made an honorable attempt to shake some life into the genre with the very expensive movie; Waterworld, and a few years later with Postman. Postman just plain sucked, and that’s all I have to say about that, HOWEVER waterworld did have an interesting twist, turning the usual wasteland of desert into a wasteland of water. Waterworld was a Madmax ripoff in more ways than one, but it has those evil villains, chosen ones, explosions and jet-skis(?)….which according to me is better that another baseball-movie any day.

These movies didn’t do that well, at least not here in Sweden, so after that everything got silent again until a couple of years ago. In the Zombie-craze a new apocalypse was born (ok, “day/dawn of the dead” had been around for a while). “28-days later” is, according to me, an excellent postapocalyptic horror flick.
Ok, it doesn’t have any wasteland in the usual sense, but its still cool with a desolated London.

Another movie which I thought was good was “Reign of fire”, a movie about dragons killing of mankind. And thisone actually has wastelands and destroyed cities. Worth a look…

Semi-wasteland movies:
The are a few movies that has an apocalypse in the storyline, but isnt really…

Terminator series –

Ever since I saw the first one, I wanted more of Kyle’s flashbacks. The coolest scenes were the futuristic ones with cities overflowing with skulls and Arnold doing a clean sweep in the shelter room. I still keep my fingers crossed that someone will step up and make the movie that is about the apocalypse and the struggle of mankind against the machines, ending with Kyle being sent back in time to the 80´s…it would be so awesome!

Twelve mokeys –

A good movie. Mankind has been almost wiped out by some virus and forced us to live underground. A good basis for any movie. However, timetravel is used here also, so we don’t get to see much wasteland here….

Judge Dredd -

This one has potential, much like hardware….Though its not until Max von Sydow goes out to the into the cursed earth, things get interesting. Too bad Sylvester messes this one up (or does he?), but just the though of the cursed earth, and the guy with a volumeswitch in his head makes me want to see it again. The comics scared and amused me at the same time when i was a kid...

Planet of the apes –

The last scene is a classic, not much more needed…

Matrix trilogy -

Although set in a postapocalyptic world you don’t see much wasteland here besides from morpheus stories. But I always wanted to see how the world of man fell to the machines….

Warrior of the lost world -

Just stay away from this italian production. I saw thisone on one of my "postapocalyptic-movie-night", and it is surelyone of the worst movies ive ever seen. The hero rides a talking motorcycle trying to rid the world of an evil dictator. Juk.. Stay away !

Allright, that’s it. These were my most memorable moment of my favorite movie-genre…Hope you got through until the end without falling asleep. Dont kill me for my bad grammer...remember im from sweden ;-)

until next time !
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