Movies

The Top Ten Post-Apocalyptic B-Movies

post apocalyptic movie posters for b movies cherry 200 and damnation alley

We all know and love the classic late-20th-century post-apocalyptic movies. Mad Max (1, 2, and Beyond Thunderdome), Waterworld, Judge Dredd, Escape from New York/LA, all the Planet of Apes etc. But if you’re looking for more and are ok with poor-quality graphics, occasional bad acting, and ridiculous plots, then below is a list of obscure post-apocalyptic movies from the 1970s-1990s. Some of these are real gems with a budget and some are absolute campy nonsense. But, all are fun. Especially if you watch them with friends while under the influence.

All titles link to the trailer on Youtube.

Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983)

Dir: Giuliano Carmineo

A Mad Max homage (possibly a rip-off), this Italian movie is an utter campy delight. A young boy teams up with a man named Alien and a woman named Trash in the search for water. There are car chases, raiders, mutants, a large explosion of what is clearly a model, and includes such timeless lines as “old astronauts never die” and “mother-humper”. It’s very easy to make fun of this movie (which is part of its allure), but some genuinely surprising moments make it quite entertaining. 

Available on: Prime 


Cherry 2000 (1987)

Dir: Steve De Jarnatt

One of my favorite movies, Cherry 2000 is about a man whose sex robot breaks down. He travels into the wasteland to find the factory where they are created to get a replacement. He hires a guide, a woman named E (played by Melanie Griffith), to take him there, but he ends up realizing that the real thing is a lot better than the factory copy. It has a great car, great sexual tension, a bizarre cult, and some fun battle scenes. 

Available on: Prime 

America 3000 (1986)

Dir: David Engelbach

In the year 3000, the surviving world has been reduced to the stone age and split into two factions: male vs. female. In this movie, the women are the rulers and use the men as slave labor. Finally, am I right? I’m kidding – this an amusingly-terrible Romeo + Juliet story, complete with a weird monster called Aargh the Awful.

Available on: Youtube


Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

Dir: Donald G. Jackson

Starring wrestler Roddy Rod Piper, this movie realizes its absurdity and dials it to eleven. It follows Sam Hell, one of the last fertile men in the post-nuclear world. He, a scientist (his love interest), and a soldier travel to Frogtown (called such because it’s where mutant frog-people live) to rescue a harem of women. It’s a hilarious, campy romp and I laughed through the entire thing.

Available on: Amazon Prime’s Shudder


The Quiet Earth (1985) 

 

Dir: Geoff Murphy 

Decidedly different than the rest of the movies on this list, The Quiet Earth is a rather artsy post-apocalyptic movie about a man who is quite literally the last man on Earth. He slowly wanders the city as he slowly goes insane.

Available on: Amazon Prime, Youtube


Tank Girl (1995) 

 

Dir: Rachel Talalay
Not quite as obscure as the rest, Tank Girl rides on 1990’s “girl power” with the story of a young woman teaming up with a cast of mutant kangaroos (yes, you read that right) to take on an extortionist company and their thugs. It’s hilarious and very peak 90s in every way. 

Available on: Cineplex, Apple 


Virus (1980)

Dir: Kinji Fukasaku

This movie tries your patience because it’s quite long (2.5 hours) and quite slow, but it’s one of those movies that sits with you years later. I’ve only watched it once, but I still remember the final scenes. It’s about a virus that ravages the entire world and much like Contagion (2011), it shows it from a global perspective. It would be especially chilling today.  

Available on: Prime, Youtube 


Damnation Alley (1977)

Dir:  Jack Smight

Chock full of the post-apocalyptic tropes we all know and love (raiders, radiation fields, giant mutated scorpions [radscorps anyone?]) as well as a giant tank called a Landmaster, this is an exciting movie that deserves a remake. 

Available on: Prime 


Quintet (1979)

Dir: Robert Altman

Like The Quiet Earth, this is a very artsy post-apocalyptic movie. Set in a new ice age, the story features heavily around a fight-to-the-death tournament, but it’s more about the symbolic loss of art and humanity. It’s a little heavy-handed, but the acting is strong and it holds a great atmosphere. 

Available on: Prime  


Cyborg (1989) 

Dir:  Albert Pyun

More dystopian than truly post-apocalyptic, Cyborg stars Van Damme kicking butt against a group of gangster marauders. That’s all you need, right? The plot is not memorable, but if you like Van Damme’s martial arts, you’ll like this.   

Available on: Prime 

There are many more! Wizards (1977), if you like animated films, is worth a watch. There is also A Boy and His Dog (1975) (not a favorite of mine). The campiest titles tend to be from Italian directors, including 2020 Texas Gladiators (1984), 2019, After the Fall of New York (1983), and Warriors of the Wasteland (1983).  

 

T. S. Beier is obsessed with abandoned towns, the ruins of industry, and Fallout. She is the author of What Branches Grow, a post-apocalyptic novel that pays homage to the genre. She is a book reviewer, editor, freelance writer, and co-owner of Rising Action Publishing Co., which offers self-publishing services. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, two feral children, a one-eyed pug, and a Shepherd-Mastiff.

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