With Roland Emmerich's '2012,' destroying the world daily in movie theaters, we welcome some post-apocalypse survivors in John Hillcoat's 'The Road,' opening this week in adjacent venues.

Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's brutally grim novel, 'The Road' stars Viggo Mortensen as a man leading his young son over an ashen landscape devoid of life save for marauding cannibals.

Before '2012' opened, we discussed the enduring attraction for films about the end of the world, postulating that it's a cyclical trend prompted by concerns over wars, plagues, the potential of nuclear holocaust as well as doomsday scenarios about the death of the sun and the approaching collision between Earth and meteors. With Roland Emmerich's '2012,' destroying the world daily in movie theaters, we welcome some post-apocalypse survivors in John Hillcoat's 'The Road,' opening this week in adjacent venues.

Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's brutally grim novel, 'The Road' stars Viggo Mortensen as a man leading his young son over an ashen landscape devoid of life save for marauding cannibals.

Before '2012' opened, we discussed the enduring attraction for films about the end of the world, postulating that it's a cyclical trend prompted by concerns over wars, plagues, the potential of nuclear holocaust as well as doomsday scenarios about the death of the sun and the approaching collision between Earth and meteors.

The same reasons fuel the post-apocalypse movies, but tend to hold out hope for the continuation of the human species. James Cameron's 'The Terminator' and Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys' both promoted the possibility of post-apocalypse survivors traveling back in time to alter mankind's doomed future. In 'Planet of the Apes,' humans survive, but only as slaves to the apes that now rule the world. in 'Dawn of the Dead' and the recent comedy 'Zombieland,' outnumbered humans turn zombie heads into pinatas -- great fun for us if not for them. And in 'I Am Legend,' post-plague survivors Will Smith and his dog have Manhattan all to themselves, if they can stave off visits from the infected.

If 'The Road' is true to its source novel, there won't be much hope to hang onto. But if the film's humans don't survive, the genre certainly will. Following are my 10 favorite post-apocalypse movies:

1. 'Planet of the Apes' (1968, not 2001)
Astronaut Charlton Heston crash-lands on a planet where humans are slaves to talking apes. He gets the monkeys off his back, but only to learn from the image of a scuttled Statue of Liberty that he's been on Earth the whole time.

2. 'Mad Max' (1979) and its sequels
The Aussie film that made a star of New York native Mel Gibson triggered a rash of post-apocalypse movies about scruffy survivors fighting each other for food, water and gasoline for their hot machines.

3. 'The Terminator' (1984)
In the role he was born to play, a robot, Arnold Schwarzenegger travels from 2029 to pre-apocalypse America to stop a human from altering Earth's dismal future.

4. 'On the Beach' (1959)
What if a nuclear war left only a handful of people alive? That's bad. What if one of them is Ava Gardner? That's good. Fred Astaire, Gregory Peck and Anthony Perkins are also along for a ride that shows us what the world would look like with no one there.

5. '12 Monkeys' (1995)
A magnificent brain-twister about a man (not a robot) sent from the future to 1990s America to learn about the virus that is about to kill five billion people. Great performances from Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis.

6. 'Testament' (1983)
This may be the scariest of all nuclear holocaust movies because it's played for real, with ordinary people reacting to horrible news as they actually would -- with fear, panic and no idea what to do about it.

7. 'I Am Legend' (2007)
Will Smith is terrific as a scientist living alone in post-plague Manhattan, trying to find a vaccine for a virus that has killed everyone but him. The best of three movies from the 1954 novel by Richard Matheson (the others: 'The Last Man on Earth' [1954] and 'The Omega Man' [1971]).

8. 'A Boy and His Dog' (1975)
A young Don Johnson plays a teenager who communicates telepathically with his dog Blood and is seduced into an underground post-nuclear world where fertile women await his seed.

9. 'The Quiet Earth' (1985)
This New Zealand cult classic is about two men and a woman who seem to be the last people on earth and -- if they just liked each other a little -- the last to enjoy a menage a trois.

10. '28 Days Later' (2002)
Not really the end of the world, just Great Britain. But Danny Boyle's inventive post-virus zombie movie is a genuine treat.
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