Fight or Die? An Apocalyptic Dilemma

Has anyone ever noticed in apocalypse movies/tv series, that those who die after the first wave seem to do so more horribly than the ones that go early?

Look at the terrible Skylines for instance. The majority stepped into the light, woke up and before they had time to say ‘alien invasion’ were neatly de brained. A brief flicker of pain and panic and it’s all over. Those that missed it, those that tried to run, hide or fight, they went out screaming after hours of terror, turning on each other and the highly improbable ‘don’t smoke round me coz I’m pregnant’ moment (umm seriously, brain stealing aliens are out there and you are worried about passive smoking?).

28 Days later made an excellent point as well, not all threats are related directly to the apocalypse, seriously, you think you’ve found an organised safe place, a group of army guys with a system but no, they plan to gang rape an underage girl and if you argue they throw you out to the flesh eaters. Charming. Or maybe you die slowly because there is no clean water, nothing to eat, you run and you fight and then you slowly starve to death; joy. Face it, a post apoc future is mostly downsides and ways to die. Really who wants that?

The films almost always make first wave death cleaner, more instant. Independence Day, instant death ray, Autumn mysterious virus wipes out most of the population (The Stand actually shows a slow flu like death with is rather grimmer and bucks the trend), The Stuff, eat something yummy, you’ll never realise you’ve been body snatched by marshmallow fluff.

Given the choice, if you knew you weren’t the hero of the piece so your chances of actually surviving long term were slim, what would you opt for? Would you rather be one of those hit by the virus, the unknowing reanimated who never had to worry about getting eaten alive by zombies, never having to bash a loved ones skull in? Or would you rather fight, take your chances and maybe go out slow and hard, taking as many of the bastards with you as you can?

Me, once I would have said first wave me, instant disintegration is preferable to fighting to survive every single day without reprieve. Now I go the other way, now I’d rather die with my blood spattered boots on.
How about you? Tell us your favourite post first wave movie death moments and whether you’d take the easy way out before the end of Jan (GMT, open internationally). There might be a giveaway attached.

5 Responses to Fight or Die? An Apocalyptic Dilemma

  • Ria says:

    I have to agree with you, at least in most cases. If it’s a zombie apocalypse, I’d hope to die early on, possibly self-inflicted, because I’m freaking terrified of zombies and would probably be driven insane with fear before very long.

    On the other hand, if we’re talking about a technocalypse, hell no, I’m going to survive! It’d be difficult and painful, but I think I stand a chance of actually survivng such a scenario.

    I don’t think I really have a favourite “first-wave death” from movies or from novels. The first one that comes instantly to mind is the scene in “War of the Worlds”, where people are getting vaporized. But it’s the later deaths that stick with me, as I suppose they’re meant to, because you’re seeing the survivors cease to survive. They may not even be more violent of graphic, but they are more memorable.

  • I am pretty sure I would want to go out in the first wave. Not because of the gruesome deaths farther along, but more because of sleep deprivation. You know you wouldn’t get a decent night’s sleep after the apocalypse, so after a while I would be running around all hallucinating and run off a cliff or something.

    I also don’t have a favorite “first wave death” scene, but the quickest, least painful one seems to be Independence Day.

  • hagelrat says:

    thanks folks

  • I love that it’s Stephen King who bucks the trend (as normal!).
    I’ve been giving this whole matter a lot of thought. There’s a part of me that wants to go on fighting, Shaun of the Dead style but at the same time, do I want to see family & friends die horrid deaths at the hands of Reavers? Both have their pros & cons so I’m going to say as long as I have my ‘gang’ beside me, I’ll keep fighting and hopefully I’ll get a few quips in along the way, worthy of Buffy herself!
    Favourite first wave death scene…. Hmm Recently rewatched The Day After Tomorrow and that seemed to be over fairly quickly but think I’d vote for the battle from Lord of the Rings: Two Towers ‘For death and glory’: King Theodan

  • Lune says:

    Me, I’m doomed to die a slow and horrible death regardless, as I’m dependent on 21st Century medicine. So there’s zero chance I’ll survive to the final reel.

    That being said, I’d still want to stay around long enough to make a difference. I might not be there to enjoy the New Dawn of Civilization, but I’m going to make certain that my clan does.

    And there are plenty of apocalypse scenarios that don’t involve hideous aliens or monsters or the undead, such as William R. Forstchen’s “One Second After.” It’s been my experience that ordinary humans who find themselves caught between a rock and a hard spot, or who are having their religious beliefs challenged, can do far more evil than a revenging band of zombies or aliens. My best possible hope for the apocalypse is to be an example of sacrifice for the greater good, and actually I’m terrified that I wouldn’t be able to live up to that.

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