As we sit here in an actual pandemic, I can’t help but magnify the effect by watching as many pandemic-related movies as I can. Some might say it’s too soon while others might call me a glutton for punishment, but the fact remains: post-apocalyptic movies are the best. Even the bad ones!
So while browsing through the free app Tubi, I discovered that it has a penchant for older, cheesy sci-fi and horror flicks. What better way to celebrate that than with a list?
I compiled this list with a few stipulations in mind: the movies must be completely free on Tubi, must be apocalyptic or at least about a pending apocalypse, and must be about a virus killing humanity but NOT turning them into zombies (“best free zombie movies” is a whole other topic for another article).
So with all of that in mind, let’s get to the list, in order from my least favorite to my favorite.
Despite the fact that this movie features a recognizable cast including Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) and Vinnie Jones (Snatch), it’s not very good. And when I say not very good, I mean I’d like my hour and 21 minutes back.
For a low-budget B-movie, it’s not the worst one I’ve seen, but the acting is stiff, the plot seems like it was improvised on-the-fly, the special effects look like they were done in Windows 98, and the editing is almost non-existent.
Synopsis: A deadly virus is killing off both humans and animals, and it’s up to a New Mexico veterinarian and a local conspiracy theorist to save the world despite a military quarantine.
This movie focuses more on the dramatic thriller side than anything else, and I liked it for that. Of course, some of the acting wasn’t the best, and the sound engineer needed to be fired, but it’s a heart-felt rendition of small-town Americana and what they’d do if the military rolled into their town trying to cover up a pandemic. I think it’s interesting to see the contrast between what the film’s writers thought would happen in a situation like this 11 years ago versus what’s really happening today.
The Carrier (2015)
Synopsis: What better place to hide from a global pandemic than in the air? But being cramped together in a jetliner at 40,000 feet isn’t exactly the utopia these survivors imagined.
The Carrier is the first actual quality movie on this list (going as far as winning the 2017 UK Screen One International Film Festival award), with impressive action sequences and special effects that keep you hooked in. Admittedly, the film starts out way better than it ends up, but if you can appreciate good gore, you’ll want to stick with it to the end.
Synopsis: The end of the world is going on outside but a group of confused residents can only watch in horror from their high-rise apartment window as they piece together clues as to what is going on.
Another award-winning film, Containment delivers on so many fronts. It’s an “unlikely survival group” movie, it’s a government conspiracy movie, and it’s a wicked suspense movie, but there are parts that seem just a bit too drawn-out for my liking. Overall, though, the Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window aspect of it is really fascinating, and the genuine quality of the movie is impressive, considering its low budget.
Virus (Day of Reckoning) (1980)
Synopsis: A classic Japanese disaster movie that focuses on a group of survivors in Antarctica who are determined to save humanity from a deadly virus. Godzilla not included.
You can’t seriously call yourself a post-apocalyptic movie hipster if you haven’t seen this film; extra points if you saw the original extended Japanese version. Co-starring iconic American actor George Kennedy and a very young Edward James Olmos, this movie’s worth is in its campiness. Sure, it’s extremely well-acted, well-written, and ahead of its time for 1980, but it’s especially worth a watch to witness what a classic Japanese disaster movie is all about. Note that, while some of the movie is entirely in Japanese with no subtitles, you can force translated subtitles by switching on the English Closed Captioning in Tubi.
Carriers is a brilliant presentation of how we, as humans, would deal with a world-ending virus by facing real predicaments outside of simply containing and eliminating a deadly virus. There are several too-close-to-home moments in Carriers such as a paranoia for over-disinfection and cute little customized face masks that really make it relatable for 2020, but the bittersweet part that keeps creeping up in the back of your mind is when you realize that any of the rest of the movie could happen at any time.