Killing a human is not that difficult of a task. In comparison to the other lifeforms on the planet we lack any real physical defense or protection. Our safety is mostly the result of the cognitive skills that drove us to the top of the food chain. If you doubt that than I invite you to try to kill a deer without a gun or bow…hell even a cow for that matter. Cognitive abilities and our shear numbers have made us both “safe” and resilient. It does not however alter the fact that individually we are not that difficult to extinguish. On the grander scale of total or almost complete annihilation, that takes a little more work and a little more creativity – a creativity that films have had no shortage of sharing with us.
Human kinds’ fascination with the “end of the world” is not of course a new concept. Many religions have predicted and detailed the end of the world (at least the end of mankind). One could make a fair argument that our cryptic curiosity is little more than a side effect of our own mortality. The down side of self awareness is the knowledge that your existence is finite. It would be noble if our fascination with apocalyptic scenarios focused on the “what after.” That is not the case as we appear much more interested in the “process” than the outcome. I’m not of course speaking of genocide. World history is filled with examples of groups who believe that the earth would be a better place if they did not have to share it with “certain people.” Now I am against genocide but I will be honest. I could come up with a very good list of reasons why the earth would be a better place if all that remained were me and oh let’s say the women on Maxim’s Top 100 (any year really I’m pretty flexible).
My point is that the attraction to “apocalyptic” movies is probably not “fear based.” People who enjoy these movies, like myself, kind of like the idea. Maybe because we imagine our own survival, maybe because it represents the ultimate challenge or maybe because we just don’t like people that much. Pick your poison, but what is certain is that the Film Industry has delivered up some great ways to kill off mankind. They run the gambit from government conspiracy, alien invasion, by accident, infection, to “it’s our own damn fault.” While the methods and story lines are interesting, what I find most intriguing is the social commentary that often lies behind these plots and where appropriate I’ll comment as I discuss my list of the Best Way’s to Kill Mankind” as illustrated by the Movies.
1: Nature hates you: I love nature and I love animals. I’m a proud financial sponsor of ASPCA. And yes I am far more likely to shoot a human intruder than ever go hunting. That being said I am not a fan of the Global Warming movement. I won’t bother with the scientific arguments (you have your own opinion I am certain). I have no problem living by candle light and in a cave with Maxim’s Top 100, but until that happens, I’ll just burn through my share of natural resources, drive my Hemi engine powered SUV, and put my carbon foot print all over the place. At least I’m honest about it. Regardless of the “lip service” people give on environmental protection, they’re still using electricity, driving cars, and breathing. So what happens if we continue down this abusive and selfish path? Well according to two films…nature fights back and we die. One of the best treatments of “Nature kills Mankind” was the movie “The Happening.” I appreciated that the movie focused on “nature as an entity of balance” rather than “man as a jerk.” Nature just got sick of our crap and corrected the balance. No need to burn the world or flood us, nope, the answer was to “whisper suicide on a lovely breeze.” The movie got a little “iffy” at the end, but I think the “suicide by lawn mower” scene more than accounted for any divergence in the script. The Day After Tomorrow took a more political approach to the subject of environmental abuse. It was no doubt our fault and the result of global warming, but the script focused more on results than on blame. There were several “political” commentaries embedded in the script, but still it didn’t detract from the overall film. I don’t think the scenario was completely plausible as I’m certain we would reclaim the Midwest by cutting down the rest of the Rain forest and shipping in the wood. Still as far as films go, the cold was a unique way to end man and made me damn glad I live in Florida.
2. You can run but…nope wait, actually you can’t run: If you’re going to wipe out the planet there really is no bigger way to do it than a good old cosmic catastrophe like we see in The Knowing and 2012. These films take the killing of man right to the “no place to hide” platform. Although the Knowing really saved the best to the last and relied on the “Adam and Eve” conclusion, I still thought it was an epic manner to rid the planet of pesky humans…just nuke the entire planet. Now one might argue that it’s like throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but remember the important and gifted creatures were shipped to a new place. The movie 2012 opted for death by water. I liked the concept even if I believe the Mayans only message was, “hey we’ll update this big calendar later cuz I got to get home for dinner.” What both of these movies shared was a sort of Biblical explanation for evolution. In one case we’re starting over on a new planet (which is why the dinosaurs bones don’t mean a thing) and in the other Noah’s Ark makes a little more sense. The Bible’s Noah version is preferable to me because “God” made the decision as opposed to our “world leaders” deciding who stays and who goes. Think about it – would you really want to live in a world where government has chosen the final guest list? No thanks.
3. It’s like shooting dead fish in a barrel: Okay my favorite way to kill humankind is the Virus. And so many varieties to choose from. Research suggests that this scenario is not as unlikely as we’d like to believe. Although there isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest a pandemic would have any greater effect than to kill us, one can’t really be certain. So first we have the Zombie outcome which I find the most enticing. Romero’s creation is still the best and most creative. Like all zombie aficionados the draw of these films is because I am certain I would survive, I know I could outrun them, and because…well basically I think most people are already Zombies. The second type of “zombie”is a little tougher to deal with. The infected-fast moving creatures. Films like 28 Weeks Later served up a much scarier version of the “undead.” We amp up the game because the undead aren’t just mulling around waiting to be shot in the head. I find these types of endings a little scarier for personal reasons. I’m not motivated to get on the damn treadmill three times a week, so I certainly don’t want to try to survive a world where cardio is king. No, I’ll just stand with my gun in one hand, my Pall Malls in the other and try to smoke the pack before I run out of bullets.
4.Oh crap did you just sneeze on me: The second virus type is the less dramatic version we see in films like Outbreak and Contagion. They were both decent films – although I’m not certain why they choose “adultery” as the reason for the end of the world in Contagion (I would guess one of the writers just got out of a bad relationship) and I don’t think we saw enough of the world falling apart… Although I enjoy the “virus” scenario, when it doesn’t result in zombies it sort of falls flat for me…I mean who am I supposed to shoot? My biggest issue with these type of scenarios is the politics they like to hash out. Yeah okay, no one trusts any government but just leave it out of my movie experience. The real question in a movie like Outbreak isn’t about the government glee with solving the issue with a bomb. The real question is “if” we could not contain the virus should we incinerate the town or let the entire world die for the sake of “fairness?” If you’re uncertain then move over I’ll fly the damn plane.
5. Teaching an old rabid dog a new trick: What? You ask. A third version of the virus scenario? I’m not familiar. Up until recently I thought we had seen it all when it came to the world ending virus. Then, thanks to fellow blogger Steve Habrat over at AntiFilm School’s review (visit his stuff here) I happened upon a little film named “Ponty Pool.” If you haven’t seen it and you like films that make you think then I strongly suggest this film. The “twist” is that the virus is passed through…okay I don’t want to spoil it, but lets just say it’s very different. It no doubt is making a commentary on the world’s troubles. I found the particular view point interesting because it allows the viewer to consider the “issue” in the absence of the movie taking a side. Don’t go into this one expecting a lot of zombie action, but still very very cool and worth the watch. Another new spin was the movie Stake Land. Certainly not great, although the first ten minutes makes the film noteworthy because you’re going to see something in the opening scene that we never see in films. The story tells of a Vampire apocalypse, but the Count Dracula in question is not your romantic or soulful species just trying to get along. In this film vampirism is a virus. What we end up with is a vampire-zombie mix. There are a few shots across the bow on religion, but nothing too direct or insulting. Not an all-time great film because of the lack of dialog, but vampire hunting in the apocalypse could be a good time.
Well that’s half the list – join me next week for part two of the The Best Ways to Kill Humankind. We’ll look at the different types of Alien Invasions, the Divine, and more karma induced destruction.