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VOICE OVER: Richard Bush
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down the most harrowing, affecting and unsettling movies that fit into the survival-focused “last man alive” post-apocalyptic genre. In this list, we take a look at movies like The Omega Man, Oblivion and 28 Days Later.

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down the most harrowing, affecting and unsettling movies that fit into the survival-focused “last man alive” post-apocalyptic genre, even if many of these films don’t literally feature only one man left standing.

#10: “The Last Man on Earth” (1964)


Released in 1964, this adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel "I Am Legend" stars Vincent Price as Dr. Robert Morgan, the presumed sole survivor of a global pandemic that has turned people into nocturnal vampire-like creatures. By day, Morgan fortifies his home and hunts the infected, while by night, he defends against their assaults. His existence is a bleak routine of loneliness, and the haunting question of whether he is truly the final human alive. The film delves into themes of isolation and the desperation of clinging to past normalities in the face of an apocalyptic crisis. It stands out for its atmospheric tension and Price's compelling performance, making it an all-time horrific classic.

#9: “WALL-E” (2008)


How about the last robot functioning genre? In the distant future, Earth has been abandoned due to overwhelming pollution and waste, leaving it uninhabitable. Among the remnants of civilization is WALL-E, a small waste-collecting robot, who has unexpectedly continued his duties long after his model has been discontinued. His routine existence is upended when he encounters EVE, a sleek reconnaissance robot sent to the planet to search for signs of life. The film follows WALL-E's adventure as he falls in love with EVE and follows her into outer space, leading to a journey that could alter the fate of both people and robots. Through the eyes of WALL-E, the film explores environmental catastrophe, the consequences of consumerism, and the power of love and perseverance.


#8: “Oblivion” (2013)


Starring Tom Cruise as Jack Harper, “Oblivion” is a visually stunning and thought-provoking science fiction film that delves into themes of memory and identity. Set in 2077, Earth has been devastated by war with alien invaders, leading to relocation to a moon of Jupiter. Harper, one of the only individuals left, is a drone technician tasked with extracting vital resources. His existence is upended when he rescues a stranger from a downed spacecraft, prompting him to question everything he knows about the war, his mission, and himself. "Oblivion" crafts a narrative that is as much about the internal struggle of its protagonist as it is about the survival of humanity, intertwining mystery and suspense with a deep philosophical inquiry.


#7: “On the Beach” (1959)


Set after a global nuclear war, "On the Beach" depicts the final months as a deadly radioactive cloud slowly makes its way to Australia, the remaining habitable place on the globe. With no hope, the film shows how different characters come to terms with their impending doom. It's a stark, poignant representation of the nuclear age's fears and the capacity for hope, love, and dignity in the face of certain annihilation. The film, directed by Stanley Kramer and based on Nevil Shute's novel, features Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins, delivering powerful performances that underscore the narrative's grave themes. "On the Beach" serves as a haunting reminder of nuclear war's potential to erase everything we love.


#6: “28 Days Later” (2002)


In the United Kingdom, a virus outbreak transforms those infected into rage-filled zombies, leading to societal collapse. Jim, a bicycle courier, awakens from a coma in a deserted hospital, only to find London in ruins and seemingly devoid of life. As he navigates through the desolate city, he encounters other survivors, including Selena and Frank, who are struggling to maintain their sanity amidst the chaos. Directed by Danny Boyle, the film is credited with revitalizing the zombie genre, introducing the concept of fast-moving zombies that would influence subsequent films and media. "28 Days Later" is not just a survival story; it's a profound meditation on the breakdown of society, and the moral dilemmas faced by those left to inherit the Earth.

#5: “The Omega Man” (1971)


This compelling adaptation of a Richard Matheson is iconic in the post-apocalyptic genre. Starring Charlton Heston as Dr. Robert Neville, the film envisions a desolate Los Angeles, where Neville is possibly the only one uninfected after a biological war has decimated humanity and transformed the rest into nocturnal, hostile mutants. Amidst this backdrop of isolation and despair, Neville's daily existence is a stark testament to resilience, as he navigates through the ruins of civilization, seeking a cure for the plague that has transformed society. The film delves into themes of isolation and the search for redemption, making it a poignant tale of the lengths a person will go in the face of apocalyptic calamity.


#4: “The Book of Eli” (2010)


In a post-apocalyptic world rendered almost uninhabitable by a cataclysmic event, the story follows Eli, a solitary man who has been wandering across North America for thirty years. He carries with him a mysterious book, the last of its kind, which he believes holds the key to salvation. Along his journey, Eli encounters various survivors, including a tyrannical ruler desperate to seize the book for his own ends. The film is notable for its exploration of faith, determination, and the power of knowledge in the face of desolation. Eli's quest is as much about protecting the sacred text as it is about his personal belief in a higher purpose amidst the ruins of civilization. With its stark landscapes and themes of redemption and hope, "The Book of Eli" blends action with a deeper philosophical inquiry into what it means to be a survivor.


#3: “The Road” (2009)


This adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel presents a bleak vision. A father and his young son journey across a barren America that has been destroyed by an unspecified cataclysm. The landscape is ash-covered, food is scarce, and the few survivors left have turned to cannibalism or are struggling to keep their humanity. He and his son face not only the physical dangers of a world devoid of life but also the psychological torment of maintaining hope in an utterly hopeless situation. Their relationship, built on love and trust, becomes a beacon of hope in the darkness. "The Road" is a powerful examination of the instincts of survival and the endurance of love between a father and son in the face of absolute despair.

#2: “The Quiet Earth” (1985)


After a scientific experiment aimed at creating a global energy grid goes disastrously wrong, Zac Hobson wakes to find himself seemingly the only person left alive. The film, set in New Zealand, centers around Zac's initial delight in his newfound freedom, which quickly turns to despair as the loneliness and weight of being the only person alive bear down on him. His discovery of two other survivors introduces complex dynamics of power, jealousy, and the need for connection. "The Quiet Earth" is fundamentally about isolation and the psychological effects of being among the last people left. The film’s climax, featuring a visually stunning cosmic event, leaves viewers contemplating the nature of existence and our place in the universe.

#1: “I Am Legend” (2007)


Based on the same 1954 novel as “The Last Man on Earth” and “The Omega Man,” this suspenseful story stars Will Smith as a scientist who is the sole survivor of a viral outbreak. Although immune, he is not alone; the virus has turned the rest of the world into nocturnal mutants who are violently hostile to any form of life. By day, he scavenges New York for food and supplies, while by night, he barricades himself against the infected. His only companions are his loyal dog Sam and the mannequins he talks to as a way to maintain some semblance of normalcy. But his daily broadcasts for other survivors are a testament to his refusal to give up hope.

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