Nuclear winter, the radioactive wastelands, scavenging survival from the ruins of once prosperous cities: nothing beats a good post-apocalyptic cinema. The sub-genre has recently garnered quite a cult following, thanks to internationally acclaimed entertainment franchises such as The Walking Dead and Fallout.
These movies are some of the most thought-provoking, horrific, visually pleasing, and downright entertaining. There is a level of depth integrated into post-apocalyptic film-making. Many factors contribute to the various aspects of a film. For instance, the actual story told by this type of movie may very well determine the entire cast, the theme, and even the setting.
Speaking of settings featured in post-apocalyptic films, where are the best locations, anyway? Again, a great deal of planning goes into creating the many levels of cinema. The setting is no different. The setting for these types of movies is heavily derived from the context of the film’s story.
How did the fictional world evolve from normal to apocalyptic to post-apocalyptic, in the first place? Surely there was a cause, and natural disasters and war, for example, all affect the environment, also known as the setting. Where did the film’s cast of characters live before the apocalypse? This single question alone can determine the filming location for a project.
Furthermore, these movies encompass a variety of film genres. The overall genre also contributes to a post-apocalyptic setting. For instance, if the genre is horror, the setting will most likely appear dark and isolated, akin to films like 28 Days Later.
Despite everything that goes into choosing the location of a movie’s scene, there are some places that appeal to all forms and criteria of the film type. The following definitive list includes the top 10 best locations for post-apocalyptic movie scenes, regardless of backstory, theme or genre.
10. Small Towns
The United States is composed of literally millions of small towns. These towns are often low in population and, however unfortunate, impoverished. Poverty makes for a good post-apocalyptic setting, as a lack of business has left many buildings gutted and ruined. Today, the southern and mid-west United States are great places to scout locations for film-making. Those states contain the highest quantity of small, almost abandoned towns.
9. The Desert
Image source: Pixabay.com
Deserts are dry, bare, and can perfectly convey feelings of isolation and hopelessness, just like most post-apocalyptic movies. If filmed at night, viewers may not even realize A scene’s setting is a desert. Moreover, plenty of deserts house abandoned gas stations, farmhouses and so on. Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and even parts of California feature deserts ripe and ready for a post-apocalypse.
8. Forested Areas
The woods are infamous, if not slightly overused, settings for several film genres. Densely forested areas feature the same isolation and hopelessness as the desert but also include fear of the unknown. Forests offer plenty of hiding places for threatening predators. All of the trees and foliage make for a perfect hard survival scene for characters in these kinds of movies.
Larger cities also fit the bill for ideal post-apocalyptic scenes. Although it may prove more difficult to achieve more secluded or isolated scenes, due to the sheer amount of people residing in a city, many cities throughout the country are prime for creating a ruined, dramatic, and thought-provoking setting for a film. In fact, a number of areas have lent their city-scrapes to film-makers. The 2009 horror film, starring Viggo Mortensen, The Road was filmed in Pennsylvania, parts of West Virginia, and Oregon.
6. The Mountains
Similar to densely forested areas are mountainous regions. Places like the Ozarks, Rockies and even the Appalachians can provide ideal settings for post-apocalyptic scenes. Mountains are secluded from society and people. If a story allows for a mountainous region, it can provide the same isolation and dread as a forest or desert, except with the addition of wonder. Scenic mountains are deep in history. Something had to create the mountains too, right?
5. Foreign Counties
Many directors and film-makers, understandably, cannot afford to travel and film on location in distant, foreign counties, however, various locations portray different experiences. The 1981 original Mad Max was filmed in Australia, while the more recent production, Children of Men was filmed on location in the United Kingdom.
4. Icy Regions
Not all film stories will coincide with predominantly icy or snowy regions, however, these largely untapped locations can provide a unique post-apocalyptic location. Places like Alaska, Antarctica, and Russia are ideal spots for recording isolated, terror-inducing scenes.
3. Sea-coasts are another widely untapped resource for film-making. The apocalypse would inevitable effect sea levels, and therefore coastal land. It is a mystery as to why directors of this particular type of film have yet to recreate or repurpose coastal locations for apocalyptic movie ideas.
2. Local Attractions
Zoos, amusement parks, shopping malls, or hotels are perfect for unique scenes. Just look at George A. Romero’s classic and legendary zombie film, Dawn of the Dead. Almost every event throughout the entire movie takes place at a local shopping mall. After all, specific places of interest to society, today, must remain operational, in some sense, after the apocalypse.
1. Your Own Backyard
Image source: Pixabay.com
Some sort of apocalypse is always one of the main points or themes of a film. During a theoretical apocalypse, one’s utmost concern would be the home-front, their very own backyard, correct? This is perfect for low budget post-apocalyptic films. Film-makers often utilize their own personal resources for film projects, regardless. Using one’s own home for scenes can bring the movie closer to the audience’s home, making it more relatable in the long run.
Post-apocalyptic films are much, much more than just distress, death, decay and scavenging survival. Every level of a scene is teeming with emotion, thought and backstory. There are many contributing factors to choosing the ideal location for a post-apocalyptic scene. The setting is mostly determined by what the overall story and film are attempting to convey.
Erik Winther is a passionate video producer from Southern California and the creator of Netflix Guides, a site to help all TV and movie enthusiasts keep up with the latest shows coming on Netflix.
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