By the ScreenJunkies Staff
Survival movies are inherently badass. When you’re faced with zombies, angry mobs, and the cruel forces of nature, you can either lie down and accept your fate, or look Death in the eyes and say “Not today, buddy.” And so, in honor of The Purge: Anarchy (which hits theaters on July 18th) here are our ten all-time favorite survival flicks, in which ordinary men and women go to heroic lengths to save the most important life of all: their own.
Road Warrior — Mel Gibson reprises his role in this sequel to Mad Max, as the lone former cop tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, where gasoline is worth killing and dying over. There was a time when Gibson was one of the coolest movie stars out there and this movie — and it’s legendary climactic chase scene — is one of the reasons why.
Black Hawk Down — Ridley Scott directed an unflinching account of a real-life U.S. Army helicopter mission that turned into a disaster and a fight for survival in war-torn Somalia. Our advice: Don’t get too attached to the characters.
Deliverance — It’s too bad the “squeal like a pig” scene is all most people remember about this movie (that and the “Dueling Banjos” scene), because it really is a tense and gripping movie about survival. Burt Reynolds was fantastic in this movie, and so were Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, as city boys who take a canoe trip in the Georgia wilderness, and aren’t exactly welcomed by the locals.
127 Hours — Danny Boyle’s 2010 classic is the true story of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco), who becomes trapped in a canyon while adventuring in Utah. When help doesn’t arrive, an increasingly delirious Ralston is forced to cut his own arm off — with a damn pocketknife — to save his own life. A grim but exhilarating tribute to the power of the human spirit.
Dawn of the Dead — Survivors of a zombie apocalypse are holed up in a shopping mall, using whatever they can find to survive. On one hand, it’s a subtle and surprisingly funny critique of unchecked consumerism. On the other hand, that helicopter blade scene is friggin’ sweet.
Warriors — This cult-classic from the Seventies follows the efforts of the Warriors crew — wrongly framed for a gang leader’s murder — to get back to Staten Island by daybreak, while fending off attacks from other rival gangs, who all have their own unique visual aesthetics. It’s a guilty pleasure, for sure.
Cast Away — Robert Zemeckis directed Tom Hanks in this story of a FedEx executive who lives by the clock and winds up spending years alone on a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean. It’s funny, tense, and will bring you to tears over a lost volleyball.
The Edge — As if surviving a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness weren’t bad enough, Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins) and Bob Green (Alec Baldwin) are forced to fight a big damn Kodiak bear — and eventually each other. Gruesome maulings ensue. Filled with breathless expanses of the Alaskan wild and two incredible performances by Hopkins and Baldwin, the film is one of the most unforgettable wilderness survival movies ever.
Alive — A rugby team crashes in the Andes and does the unthinkable to survive. Like 127 Hours, it’s an incredible true story of human beings who went to almost super-human lengths to stay, well, alive. As John Malkovich puts it in the opening scene, “Many people come up to me and say that had they been there they surely would have died. But it makes no sense, because until you’re in a situation like that, you have no idea how you’ll behave.”
Predator — An elite team of commandos, composed of Hollywood hulks like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessie Ventura, and Carl Weathers, is stalked in the jungles of Guatemala by a demented alien with the ability to turn invisible and who, apparently, has a jones for skinning people alive and hanging them upside down. As with almost every action movie starring the muscle-bound Schwarzenegger, the Governator is the only one left standing.
Did we leave out any of your favorite survival movies? Let us know on twitter @ScreenJunkies.