Congratulations on surviving doomsday! Your new way of life may include oppressive regimes, punishing environmental effects, mutants and/or zombies, and some mighty big human assholes who live only to make your already-grim existence even worse. Here’s a handy guide of who to avoid at all costs.
Yul Brynner plays a stone-cold badass tasked with carrying a packet of plague-resistant seeds out of the ravaged ruins of New York City. This seems like a task that all of humanity could get behind—except for the vicious “street people” who’ve come into power, including the vicious gang leader named Carrot, played by perpetual 1970s-’80s villain William Smith. Carrot’s tough... but he ain’t tough enough to beat The Ultimate Warrior.
Though this 1979 scifi adventure doesn’t really resemble Wells’ novel, it does take place “tomorrow after tomorrow,” after a devastating event referred to as the “robot wars” has driven Earth’s population onto the Moon, and into greater outer space. The special effects are iffy and the script doesn’t often make sense, but of course there’s a villain: power-mad Omus (played by the inimitable Jack Palance), who has positioned himself as the “supreme commander” of all humanity, and whose ultimate weapon resembles a disco ball on a turntable.
In a post-nuclear war Wild West wasteland, soft-spoken warrior type Eli (Denzel Washington) has the sole surviving copy of what used to be the most popular book in America. Carnegie (Gary Oldman)—the local kingpin/mayor/brute squad boss—wants the book more than anything, because he knows he can use it to control people, and he’ll do damn near anything to get it. Looks like just about every weapon that survived the nuclear blast is under Carnegie’s control, and he doesn’t seem at all concerned about running out of bullets.
On a train that never stops zooming across Earth’s permanently frozen surface, the worst person to be stuck with is a cruel, snobby tyrant who periodically makes appearances in the rear cars to torment the poor people who dwell there. Occasionally, she will pluck a small child from their ranks, whisking it away to some unknown but obviously terrible fate. And when a rebellion starts, this ghoulish despot thinks nothing of unleashing, say, a gang of bloodthirsty, hatchet-wielding enforcers.
It’s 2013 and the United States is some 15 years past a terrible war that decimated everything, including the government. A drifter in a postal uniform (Kevin Costner) who’s unafraid to spread hope (couched in white lies) could be the key to rebuilding human society—if only dictatorial militia leader General Bethlehem would give up his quest to rule everything. “Terror will defeat reason” has an eerily contemporary feel to it, no?
In this 2008 entry from future Game of Thrones “Blackwater” helmer Neil Marshall, the appropriately evil-sounding Reaper Virus has turned Scotland into a walled-off wasteland filled with vicious, tattoo-faced cannibals and, weirdly, medieval-style knights. Malcolm McDowell (who also plays a post-apocalytic jerk in Tank Girl) is the doctor whose fruitless search for a cure deep in the “hot zone” has turned him into a castle-dwelling nutjob with quite the mean streak, way scarier than any shrieking tribal type on a flaming motorcycle. Possibly even scarier than the Reaper Virus.
Many movies set in the post-apocalypse feature cannibals—really, it’s to be expected in times of immense food shortages. But it’s one thing to resort to gobbling human flesh when there’s absolutely no alternative. It’s a fair notch worse to keep terrified living captives chained in the basement to slaughter when it’s time for the next feast.
Another baddie from Kevin Costner’s apocalypse phase—but Dennis Hopper’s Deacon is way over the top, much like Waterworld’s budget. He’ll do everything in his power to snatch a little girl who might have a valuable map tattooed on her back, as part of his total package of being a truly hideous person inside and out.
When a terrible flu threatens humankind with extinction, only a true villain would see a pregnant woman not as a hopeful symbol, but as a potential political pawn. That’s Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who’s also willing to murder anyone who gets in his way, including several of the movie’s unlikely-hero main characters.
Truly, it was difficult to pick an ultimate bad guy from among all the characters in the Mad Max films. Lord Humungous has a certain terrifying flair, though, that can’t be denied.
The apocalypse has already made everything terrible, but there’s always gotta be one guy takes everything to the next level—by posting help wanted ads for his butcher shop, then slaughters the job seekers and sells the meat to the tenants who live upstairs.
Needs no further explanation.
Ah yes, your so-called friend who eats all of the food you were planning to ration out while weathering the apocalypse; stirs up all kinds of unnecessary drama (jerking off inappropriately, talking shit, etc.) while things are plenty tense already; then turns into a cannibal that keeps Channing Tatum as a sex slave and gleefully eats your face. Damn, dude.