As the Doomsday Clock jitterbugs ever closer towards midnight, it can be strangely cathartic to witness some of the absolute worst-case scenarios, even if only for the opportunity to hit the eject button afterwards. Hence, a mixed sampler of movies where "The End" means THE END.
• Holocaust 2000 (1977)--The Antichrist sets up shop at a Middle Eastern nuclear plant. Business is good. Originally intended as the final installment of the Omen saga, but delightfully lacking that series' sense of taste and restraint. Nobody can spit out lines like, "I will not create a seven-headed monster that destroys the world!" through clenched teeth like Kirk Douglas. Nobody.
• Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)--
AMERICAN SUPERCOMPUTER: Hi.
RUSSIAN SUPERCOMPUTER: Hello.
AMERICAN SUPERCOMPUTER: U wanna hook up and destroy all puny humans?
RUSSIAN SUPERCOMPUTER: LOL.
The kind of flick for which the Late Show was invented, this crowning achievement in techno-horror has lost none of its power to unhinge. Expert, creeping paranoia, from the days when scientists were eggheaded and computers were mysterious, duplex-sized boxes.
• Virus (1980)--A government-created case of the sniffles goes ape, sparing just 855 men (including the legendary ass-master Sonny Chiba) and 8 women in the Antarctic. Then nukes get involved. Relentlessly, dazzlingly dour, with an underlying realism that's tough to shake. The most expensive Japanese film in history up to that point, and worth every dread-ridden penny.
• Last Days Of Planet Earth (1974)--The apocalyptic Goofus to Virus' Gallant. Giant bats, mirrored skies, and radioactive slug eating man-things are but a few of the cautionary delights on display, courtesy of the ecologically concerned folks that brought you Rodan. Purportedly based on the prophecies of Nostradamus, by way of a NyQuil-crazed Woodsy the Owl. ANDREW WRIGHT