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The Best Post-Apocalyptic Movies of the 90s

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The post-apocalyptic cinematic genre stands as a testament to our fascination with the end of the world. From barren wastelands to dystopian societies on the brink of collapse, these movies paint vivid portraits of a world ravaged by cataclysmic events, forcing characters to run through the debris of civilization in search of hope, survival, and sometimes redemption.

The 1990s, with its blend of technological advancements and societal anxieties, birthed a wide variety of post-apocalyptic masterpieces that continue to captivate us to this day. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the best post-apocalyptic movies of the 90s! 

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Best Post-Apocalyptic Movies of the 90s

The Postman (1997)

The Postman is an American epic post-apocalyptic adventure directed by Kevin Costner, who also stars in the lead role. Adapted from David Brin’s 1985 novel, the film is set in a desolate version of the United States, ravaged by apocalyptic events and plagues, approximately 16 years after societal collapse. Costner portrays a nomadic drifter who stumbles upon a United States Postal Service uniform, inadvertently sparking hope with promises of a restored America. Despite its grand ambitions, the film received criticism for its performances, screenplay, and lengthy runtime. Costner’s self-casting drew particular ire. Commercially, it underperformed, failing to recoup its substantial budget. Despite its shortcomings, The Postman received nominations for several awards, including the Saturn Awards, but ultimately swept the Golden Raspberry Awards, winning in all five categories it was nominated for, including Worst Picture.

Waterworld (1995)

best post-apocalyptic movies of the 90s - Waterworld
Waterworld (1995)

Speaking of Kevin Costner, Waterworld is a post-apocalyptic action film directed by Kevin Reynolds, co-written by Peter Rader and David Twohy, and starring Kevin Costner, who also produced it. Based on Rader’s original screenplay, the film envisions a distant future where the polar ice caps have melted, submerging almost all land beneath the sea. Costner portrays “The Mariner,” a mysterious drifter navigating the ocean in his trimaran. Distributed by Universal Pictures, Waterworld offers a visually striking portrayal of a world transformed by environmental catastrophe, with Costner’s character embodying the essence of a rugged antihero in a world devoid of solid ground.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a science fiction action film by James Cameron, who co-wrote the script alongside William Wisher. Reuniting Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and introducing Robert Patrick and Edward Furlong, the movie serves as the highly anticipated sequel to the iconic The Terminator (1984) and marks the second chapter in the Terminator saga. Set in a dystopian future, the malevolent artificial intelligence Skynet dispatches an advanced killing machine, a Terminator, back to 1995 with the mission to eliminate John Connor, the future savior of humanity, while he is still a child. In response, the human resistance sends back a reprogrammed Terminator to safeguard Connor, thus igniting a gripping battle for the fate of mankind across time.

Stream it today! 

Tank Girl (1995)

Tank Girl
Tank Girl (1995)

Tank Girl is a vibrant American post-apocalyptic sci-fi film directed by Rachel Talalay and based on the British comic series by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin. Starring Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Ice-T, and Malcolm McDowell, it follows Tank Girl and her allies battling the oppressive Water & Power corporation in a drought-ravaged Australia. Talalay, inspired by the comics, collaborated closely with creators and assembled a talented team, including Catherine Hardwicke for production design and Stan Winston for makeup. Filmed in New Mexico and Arizona, the film boasts a critically acclaimed soundtrack by Courtney Love. Winston’s studio halved their prices to support the project, highlighting the passion behind this imaginative post-apocalyptic tale. You can stream it here through Amazon Prime!

12 Monkeys (1996)

12 Monkeys best apocalyptic movies of the 90s
12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys is a science fiction thriller directed by Terry Gilliam, with a screenplay by David and Janet Peoples. Inspired by Chris Marker’s 1962 short film “La Jetée,” the movie features Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Plummer. It unfolds in a post-apocalyptic future ravaged by disease, where a convict is tasked with traveling back in time to uncover details about the man-made virus that decimated humanity.

The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix
The Matrix

The Matrix is a groundbreaking science fiction action film written and directed by the Wachowskis. Serving as the inaugural installment in the Matrix film series, it stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. The film unveils a dystopian future where humanity resides unknowingly within the Matrix, a simulated reality engineered by intelligent machines to subjugate humans and harness their energy. When computer programmer Thomas Anderson, known as “Neo” in the hacker world, discovers the truth, he allies with a rebellion of freed individuals to combat the machine overlords. You can stream it on Amazon Prime Video.

Armageddon (1998)

Armageddon best post apoc movies 90s
Armageddon (1998)

Armageddon is a science fiction apocalyptic film directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and distributed by Touchstone Pictures. The storyline tracks a team of blue-collar deep-core drillers dispatched by NASA to halt a massive asteroid hurtling towards Earth. Featuring an ensemble cast including Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, and many others, the film soared to commercial success, grossing $553.7 million globally against a $140 million budget. Despite its box office triumph, critical reception was mixed. But we here think it’s worth putting on the list – it is a classic!

The Arrival (1996)

The Arrival is a gripping 1996 science fiction thriller penned and directed by David Twohy, featuring Charlie Sheen in the lead role of radio astronomer Zane Zaminsky. Alongside Sheen, the film contains a talented ensemble including Lindsay Crouse, Ron Silver, Teri Polo, and Richard Schiff. Synopsis: Zaminsky’s discovery of evidence pointing to intelligent alien life thrusts him into a whirlwind of conspiracy, unraveling mysteries that challenge his very existence.

Deep Impact (1998)

(This movie clip contains major spoilers… and will give you nightmarish goosebumps!)

Deep Impact is a 1998 science fiction disaster film directed by Mimi Leder, with a screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin. The stellar cast includes Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell, and Morgan Freeman, with Steven Spielberg serving as an executive producer. Paramount Pictures released the film in North America, while DreamWorks Pictures handled international distribution on May 8, 1998. The storyline revolves around humanity’s frantic efforts to thwart a catastrophic comet collision with Earth, spanning gripping attempts to prepare for and ultimately destroy the colossal celestial threat, poised to trigger mass extinction.

Independence Day (1996)

independence day
Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day (also known as ID4) is a thrilling 1996 American science fiction action film co-written, directed, and executive-produced by Roland Emmerich, alongside co-writer and producer Dean Devlin. The star-studded ensemble cast includes Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, and many others. Set against the backdrop of a worldwide assault by a formidable extraterrestrial species, disparate groups of individuals converge in the Nevada desert. Together with the global populace, they mount a daring counteroffensive on July 4th—the day of independence in the United States—against the alien invaders.

Body Snatchers (1993)

Body Snatchers serves as the third film adaptation of Finney’s novel, following the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers and its 1978 counterpart. Set against the backdrop of a military base in Alabama, the plot revolves around the unsettling revelation that personnel are being supplanted by flawless replicas cultivated from plant-like pods. These duplicates mirror humans perfectly, save for their eerie absence of emotion, sparking a gripping tale of infiltration and survival.

The Prophecy (1995)

The Prophecy is a 1995 fantasy thriller horror film featuring a stellar cast including Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz, and Viggo Mortensen. Directed and written by Gregory Widen in his feature directorial debut, it marks the inception of The Prophecy series. The narrative unfolds as the Archangel Gabriel, portrayed by Walken, embarks on a quest to locate an evil soul on Earth. Meanwhile, a police detective, played by Koteas, unwittingly becomes entangled in an otherworldly conflict among the celestial beings. The film’s success spawned four sequels, continuing the saga of angelic warfare.

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    Valerie Anne is a Type 1 diabetic, mother, tree-hugger, self-proclaimed granola who loves a good horror story through literature, video games, and movies. She also streams art over at

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