28 Doomsday Movies for Preppers to Watch

I want to clarify that most of the doomsday movies out there are a bunch of Hollywood BS.  The heroes make ridiculous decisions that would get them killed in a true SHTF survival scenario.  The writers gloss over the less-entertaining aspects of disasters.

Have you ever seen a doomsday movie where the characters had to crap in a bucket or wade through sewage?

No, because that doesn’t make for good entertainment.

With that said, there is some value to watching prepping movies.  Aside from being entertaining, they are a good way to introduce the topic of disaster preparedness to your family or even your friends and neighbors.


Our Picks


28 Days Later – 2003

28 Days Later (Widescreen Special Edition)

A bike messenger wakes up from a coma to discover that a virus called “Rage” has spread through London.  He finds a group of survivors who band together for survival.

This isn’t your typical zombie virus movie and it is really well directed.  There are also some good survival tips in it, like collecting rainwater

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The Road – 2009

The Road

This might be the best movie for introducing the idea of Bugging Out to your family.

After the apocalypse, a father and his son travel to the sea to find safety.

There are important survival lessons here about how people can become savage in disasters, wilderness survival, and how to carry your gear.
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The War Game – 1965

The War Game / Culloden

Released in 1965, this doomsday movie is an oldie but really worth watching.

It is filmed in documentary style and shows the events leading up to and after a nuclear attack.

There are a lot of survival themes here from mental preparedness to mass chaos to bugging out to the country.
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The Mist – 2008

The Mist

Here’s a doomsday movie that doesn’t usually make it to other lists.

This supernatural horror movie written by Stephen King shows what happens when a mist takes over a town and residents have to be holed up in order to survive.

There is a really controversial ending which teaching you the importance of mental preparedness and keeping hope.
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The Postman – 1997

The Postman (Keep Case Packaging)

If you want to watch a doomsday movie that you can laugh at, then this is it (though I’m admittedly biased because I don’t like Kevin Costner).

In the movie, an apocalyptic event has sent the world back into the Dark Ages (EMP anyone?).  Some survivors band together to form communities and others form militias.

You’ll learn how stupid it is to travel when SHTF and bartering beats money.
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Right At Your Door – 2007

Right At Your Door

In this 2010 movie, a dirty bomb goes off in Los Angeles.  A man has to seal up his home – even though his wife isn’t home.  When she comes back, they are forced to communicate through the barricade of tape and plastic shopping bags.

There are some obvious criticisms with the survival advice given in the film (which will make for a good discussion about what you should really do) but the mental preparedness message is good.
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War of the Worlds – 2005

War of the Worlds

This movie is great entertainment and you might even be able to squeeze in a few survival lessons too!

When aliens invade the world to harvest human bodies, they use an EMP attack to destroy all electronics.  Tom Cruise takes his family to bug out.  Since he doesn’t have a plan, he has to figure things out on the way.

The lesson? Have your Bug Out Bag packed and plan for disasters!
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  The Colony – 2016

The Colony

This sci-fi horror movie is about a group of people who have to live in underground bunkers to survive the ice age induced by climate change.

The movie features cannibalism and some other survival extremes, which makes it a good movie for asking “how far would you go to survive?”
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Contagion – 2011

Contagion (2011)

As far as doomsday movies go, this one is different from your standard “giant comet coming to crash into the earth” or “alien invasion” movie.

It shows how a virus can quickly turn into a mass pandemic and the importance of being able to hunker down and isolate yourself from the contagion.

Of course the plot focuses on finding a vaccination for it, but it’s still a pretty good movie to watch to start a discussion about pandemic prepping.
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The Day After Tomorrow – 2004

The Day After Tomorrow (Widescreen Edition)

Despite how unbelievable the scenario is (it is Hollywood after all), I actually liked this movie.

I particularly like that they included a homeless man in the movie and he is the most prepared for survival with all of the skills he learned on the street.  Read Survival Skills Learned from the Homeless here.
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Readers Picks

Here’s some movie picks from our awesome readers. Leave your recommendation in the comments if you want to be featured.


The Day After – 1983

The Day After

From Kathy:

Super good movie from 1983 about a nuclear event

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Red Dawn – 1984

Red Dawn

From Rabid Reader:

What about “Red Dawn” showing the courage of youth?
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The Way Back -2013

The Way Back

From Daniel:

From 2010 based on the real history of Sławomir Rawicz a Polish war prisioner.

Siberian gulag escapees travel 4,000 miles by foot to freedom in India. A lot of good information there.
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All is Lost – 2013

All Is Lost [DVD + Digital]

From Kenshin:

About being stranded alone in the sea. Not a doomsday movie, but lot of lessons there.
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The Survivalist – 2015

The Survivalist

From Catinthehat:

Released 2015/16 BAFTA nominates offering. Gritty , bleak , doesn’t pull any punches, very highly recommended by me.
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Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America – 2006

Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America

From Reffitt:

The most realistic depiction of a pandemic I’ve ever seen.

It shows everything from the rich and powerful sequestering themselves, families in quarantine zones trying to survive, hospital workers saddled with the terrible choice of helping others or trying to protect themselves from the sickness, the mass graves that will result from so many dying, what may happen to the elderly and insulin dependent.
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The Grey – 2011

The Grey

From Bobby:

Great adventure and survival film about several guys who get stranded in the wilderness.

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How I Live Now – 2013

How I Live Now

From Raptor:

Although in the UK, this is how FEMA will react to US citizens. Although this is justifiable in the same sense if you were asked to manage / feed that many citizens, but with preppers/survivalists they will not want to be treated this way.

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Goodbye World – 2013

Goodbye World

From Raptor:

An example of knowing your constitutional rights, and many lessons on what not to do.

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It Comes At Night – 2017

It Comes At Night

From Regularguy:

A fascinating look at how paranoia will set in after shtf. Some great prepper stuff too.

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Stake Land – 2011

Stake Land

From Regularguy:

Zombified vampires have taken over. Need I say more?

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Dante’s Peak – 1997

Dante's Peak / Daylight Double Feature [Blu-ray]

From M:

it really highlights how you should know specific threats to your area (some townspeople actually thought the volcano was extinct!), multiple ways out of dead area, and what you and your equipment are capable of. Plus, it’s just a fun watch as far as disaster movie go.

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Mad Max

From welder dave

When Miller wrote the mad max flicks he got it about right as he said in the second one the citys will explode only those mobile enough and ruthless enough will survive.
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Bushwick – 2017

From Stacy:

Another good one that actually is quite entertaining, but still shows a unique perspective with regards to SHTF, and the mental preparedness required to survive, is “Bushwick”. A convincing portrayal by Dave Bautista as a combat veteran with emotional scars, its definitely worth the time.

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Survivors – 2010

From David:

Great series about survival. You can learn a few ideas here — BBC Survivors

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After Armageddon – 2011

From Nehemiah:

Lots of valuable lessons in this story about the gradual collapse of the electrical grid after a pandemic wipes out a critical number of the skilled people who are needed to keep it going.

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Ultimate Warrior – 1975

From: Jackson Wells

Yeah it’s a good versus evil plot line, but many of the things that are happening around the characters are realistic possibilities.

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Into the Forest – 2015

From: TX Griff

Two sisters learn to survive on their own in their isolated home after a massive, wide-spread power outage that lasts for years. More mind-set techniques than actual prepping steps.

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What doomsday movies would you add to the list and what lessons can you learn from them?

Leave your comments below and we will add them to the reader recommendations!

I’m Jacob Hunter, founder of Primal Survivor.
I believe in empowering people with the knowledge to prepare and survive in the modern world.

More about Jacob here.

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  1. Can I be picky? Right At Your Door, the guy is at home having to seal the house while his girlfriend is caught up in the explosions while at work. Good film tho

    • One of the most enlightening parts of the 1984 version of Red Dawn is how any military, government, invading army can obtain B(ATF)E form 4473 to locate/identify firearms owners. Gun registration without calling that.

  2. The Way Back a 2010 based on the real history of Sławomir Rawicz a Polish war prisioner.

    Siberian gulag escapees travel 4,000 miles by foot to freedom in India. A lot of good information there.

  3. The Survivalist
    Released 2015/16 BAFTA nominates offering
    Gritty , bleak , doesn’t pull any punches, very highly recommended by me

  4. Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America is the most realistic depiction of a pandemic I’ve ever seen. It shows everything from the rich and powerful sequestering themselves, families in quarantine zones trying to survive, hospital workers saddled with the terrible choice of helping others or trying to protect themselves from the sickness, the mass graves that will result from so many dying, what may happen to the elderly and insulin dependent. It’s the most realistic SHTF movie I’ve ever seen.

  5. I’ve watched all these movies….and they were All excellent….However, I would like to give My Review of one of them so that others (Who agree with me) don’t end up wasting two hours of their life they’ll never be able to get back.

    The Survivalist: Ugh!! Oh Wow! BORING……..Made really No sense whatsoever…..slow…..and a HORRIBLE Ending as well. They didn’t explain anything in this movie. The viewer doesn’t know when or where it takes place. The viewer doesn’t know why he (and others) are in the woods surviving.

    There were a few things that a prepper would see as he was doing right, but this is definitely NOT the movie to watch to learn about survival.

    It was just so horrible on so many different levels.

  6. By the Dawn’s Early Light, starring Powers Booth, Rebecca De Mornay, James Earl Jones, and Martin Landau as the President of the USA.

  7. “How I Live Now 2013” – Although in the UK, this is how FEMA will react to US citizens. Although this is justifiable in the same sense if you were asked to manage / feed that many citizens, but with preppers/survivalists they will not want to be treated this way.

  8. The Naked and Afraid tv series was highly acclaimed for having some of the most apt scenarios on survival, with only the barest necessities available to the cast.

  9. IT COMES AT NIGHT
    A fascinating look at how paranoia will set in after shtf. Some great prepper stuff too.
    STAKELAND
    Zombified vampires have taken over. Need I say more?

  10. Dante’s Peak – it really highlights how you should know specific threats to your area (some townspeople actually thought the volcano was extinct!), multiple ways out of dead area, and what you and your equipment are capable of. Plus, it’s just a fun watch as far as disaster movie go.

  11. I wish they’d make a movie based on the One Second After books. The first book was the best, in my opinion. It talks about dealing with crime. Two kids were executed by firing squad for stealing morphine. Where to bury all the bodies. Government considering taking prepper’s rations and distributing them. People on life-saving medicine like insulin. It’s a treasure trove of information.

  12. When Miller wrote the mad max flicks he got it about right as he said in the second one the citys will explode only those mobile enough and ruthless enough will survive You can see the part about a city being out of control by looking what Chicago’s south side that’s a lawless free for all area all inner citys will go first and it will not take a enemy attack to do it best to be far away from them to begin with !

  13. A very recent movie is How It Ends, which is a Netflix original. It’s a combination of bug out and get to a (far away) loved one, the daughter and wife of the two main characters.

    It avoids any alien, zombie, monster etc causes, and none of the characters even know exactly what happened, which seems a very realistic possibility to me.

    There are some very good depictions of how people are likely to start behaving (the good and the bad), and some scenes that I think are accurate and educational. (Example – what to expect at a gas station when everyone is panicking)

    There are some good examples of mistakes to be avoided too. Alot of good discussion points for kids.

    Plus some pretty good acting from both main characters, portraying “I’ve been expecting this,” and “what the hell do I do?”

    • Ah, that was the name of the movie we just watched. Just posted a comment on it. What I struggled with on that movie was how quickly society broke down. Would people really be killing each other after 3 days? The thought that power might come back on after day 4 and you are suddenly charged with murder would stop such immediate killings..

  14. I watched some movie recently where something happened on the west coast and the entire grid across the US went down. What I questioned is how quick society broke down in the movie. People were killing others inside 3 days?..

    This is the part I struggle with in any plan, if the entire electrical grid goes down, how long before being out in the open is dangerous. Would grocery stores shutdown immediately? How long before someone raids the stores? Whilst getting some last minute supplies would be nice, I am not sure being anywhere near such a place would be healthy.

  15. Another good one that actually is quite entertaining, but still shows a unique perspective with regards to SHTF, and the mental preparedness required to survive, is “Bushwick”. A convincing portrayal by Dave Bautista as a combat veteran with emotional scars, its definitely worth the time.

  16. I just saw “the testament “ on Netflix/ Hulu/ HBO can’t remember which on Apple TV. It was about a mother and her three kids after a nuclear blast. Kevin Costner was in it , one of his first movies. Actually entertaining.

  17. Two recommendations: 1. A History Channel docudrama, “After Armageddon.” Lots of valuable lessons in this story about the gradual collapse of the electrical grid after a pandemic wipes out a critical number of the skilled people who are needed to keep it going.

    2. An old “Twilight Zone” episode, “The Shelter,” about one prepared family who, at the apparent commencement of a nuclear attack, must deal with unprepared neighbors and friends who all want access to their shelter which was built to accommodate only one small household.

  18. How about another oldie? Ultimate Warrior staring Yul Brenner, 1975.
    Yeah it’s a good versus evil plot line, but many of the things that are happening around the characters are realistic possibilities.

  19. 2015’s “Into the Forest” starring Ellen Page (Juno) and Evan Rachel Wood. Two sisters learn to survive on their own in their isolated home after a massive, wide-spread power outage that lasts for years. Very low-key except for the rape scene… more mind-set techniques than actual prepping steps.

  20. Would it be possible to create a “printer friendly” version of these movie recommendations? 40 sheets of paper is a bit much to leaf through while sitting in front of the TV, ya’ know? 🙂

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