Why Are We Preoccupied with Apocalyptic Movies?

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Question of the Day (QOTD) is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a film/TV-related question that we put to you, the reader. The comments section below is like the feedback box at work; except, in this example, we actually read what you write and care about what you have to say.

Hell Comes to Frogtown

I had the house to myself last Thursday evening, so I hit the local video store after work and rented a handful of movies for the weekend. I had been in the mood for some 80s sci-fi cheese all week (preferably of the post apocalyptic variety), and no one was around to judge or object, so I quickly settled on Hell Comes to Frogtown, ordered up some Chinese delivery, and poured myself a whiskey. 

For those unfamiliar with this charming, little cult film, here’s a brief synopsis from IMDb:

After a nuclear war, the survivors are divided between horribly mutated beings who live on desolate reservations and fertile women who are searching for scarce virile men in order to multiply and start a new human society.

What I might or might not think about Hell Comes to Frogtown is fodder for another post – this ain’t a review of the film (for the record, though, it was a hell of a lot of fun). What I’d like to discuss here is apocalypse in film. 

Wikipedia defines this loose category as a subgenre of science fiction in which “civilization is collapsing or has collapsed.” 

I guess this definition will have to do for now, though I think we’ll end up returning to flesh this out further in the comments (Hi, Sailor). 

Hell Comes to Frogtown is indisputably silly, but it treats probably one of the most serious existential questions mankind could possibly confront in film, literature, or any number of other mediums through which we communicate our collective and individual hopes and fears in life: our own demise.


And I couldn’t help, as I sat and watched Rowdy Roddy Piper (who plays Sam Hell) and Sandahl Bergman (Piper’s foil and budding love interest) navigate this fictional waste land, but be struck by the fact that these kinds of films (and the questions they pose) are suddenly relevant again. 

But I’m not here to wax political about potential nuclear war with Russia or to debate the finer points of the pandemic. What I’m interested in is why we find this particular brand of fiction so utterly compelling that even the end of the Cold War did little to deter our fascination with it. What is it about the potential destruction of mankind that not captivates our imaginations? 

Well, that’s what I want to know. 

Apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian fiction are prolific. It’s a theme that one would think would have waned after the abrupt dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Yet, these genres persist. They’re everywhere. In film, literature, comics, and even video games. Not only that, but examples of these are among our most popular, most successful books, movies, and franchises of all time.

The Question of the Day

So the question I pose to you is: Why? Why does our own demise fire our imaginations? What is it about apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian settings that, regardless of how many technological advancements we manage or how much wealth, happiness, and equality we achieve in our societies, find us returning, again and again, to dip our quills in the well of nuclear fire?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! I’ll see you in the trenches, screenager.

Author: Dhalbaby

I like big Bigbooté, and I cannot lie.