Top 10 Survival Movies

Like survival movies? Check out our picks for the top 10 survival and post apocalyptic movies around. Don’t agree with our survival movie choices? Be sure to take our poll at the bottom of the post and let your opinion be heard!

10. Tremors

Tremors

Okay maybe this one is only borderline survivalist, but when a small town is cut off from the world by underground monsters, fun always ensues.

9. Waterworld

Water World

What happens when the world floods? Waterworld is what happens. Kevin Costner is a rogue survivor who has evolved to breathe and swim better under water. This survivor stumbles upon a little girl who holds the key to land all the while fighting a tyrant with unbeatable military forces.

8. 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys

Bruce Willis plays a prison worker in a post apocalyptic society. After volunteering to participate in a science experiment Bruce Willis finds himself back in time before the society killing virus was released. He tries to prevent the catastrophe from taking place this preventing the societal collapse. This movie is a good watch.

7.Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead

Plain and simple this movie spells zombies and mayhem. After a rash of zombie infections, some survivors find themselves held up at the mall. They have some fun while they’re stuck at the mall but don’t expect a comedy. There’s some gruesome violence in this film as well.

6. Mad Max

Mad Max: Road Warrior

Gas runs out and this is what Australia becomes, a desolate place filled with road gangs. In this world everyone’s competing for one thing; gasoline. Watch citizens fight for survival in this post apocalyptic world.

5. Terminator 2

Terminator 2

Rarely do we see a sequel as good as the first. This one is better than its predecessor. Follow Jon Connors attempts to prevent the world takeover of robots using the very same robot that was sent back in time to kill him.

4. Deliverance

Deliverance

Ah the famous Dueling Banjos. This film is a classic. A few friends camping in the great outdoors, what could go wrong? As it happens a lot can go wrong. A few friends become hostages of some local mountain men but thanks to the survivor of the group, Lewis, the group has a chance to get back to society. This movie may have some adult themes.

3. The Postman

The Postman

Get caught stealing in a post apocalyptic town? Pretend to be a postman! That’s what Kevin Costner does in this great EOTW movie. Follow Postmaster Ford Lincoln Mercury and the Postman through the fight of their lives as they preserve the mail service while fighting tyrannical forces.

2. I Am Legend

I Am Legend

They thought they cured cancer but instead they created a terrible new disease. After killing off most of the population a sole survivor residing in New York tries to contact others. Isolation is his worst problem because he is immune to the disease. Watch Will Smith try to find other survivors as he struggles to maintain his sanity.

1. Red Dawn

Why does Red Dawn get our vote for number one survivalist movie? Well because of the realistic plot and harsh realities presented. This movie takes place in a small Colorado town. After being invaded by Cuba and Russia a group of students take refuge in the mountains. They begin to mount a guerrilla war campaign against the hostile invaders. A great watch for the modern survivalist.

Red Dawn Wolverines Red Dawn

Like this article? Be sure to check out our list of 11 Survival TV Shows Worth Watching

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Survival Spot is dedicated to helping everyone learn to be prepared. No matter what happens you can be ready.

88 Responses

  1. Shine

    Hope we don’t have to do our own any time soon, but if that is the case is better to be prepared :+

    Reply
  2. Andy T

    The economy will turn sour but will not be as bad as you think. US housing market only has a 15% of total US GDP. Even the whole US housing market went burst, it won't hurt that much on the entire US economy[National Scale]. The big international corporation still making profit, especially the low US dollar like a deep discount to oversea buyer.

    Government and big corporations still have a lot of money, only general worker without money.

    US is a self-consumption economic system, once the consumer lost confident and stop consumption, that is the real problem.

    Reply
  3. John

    Great points about our vulnerability.

    In emergency situations, it's a good idea for people at home to have a hard wired phone line and a corded phone. If power goes out, you don't want to be dependent on a cordless phone base that runs from AC. Who knows whether cell phones will be operative, especially if towers go down. Besides, just when you want to use it, your battery may go down.

    Having a battery powered weather radio is a good idea, too. The radio's batteries may not be as fickle as those of a cell phone.

    If you have a police scanner or other radio you can program to 146-148 MHz., you can listen to weather spotter nets from local ham radio operators, who often do an excellent job of coverage.

    John

    http:http://www.destinysurvival.com

    Reply
    • Jonathan (Sweden)

      William Barentine, you wrote this about the mexicans: "money is the force that they appreciate…", what makes them any more dangerous than the americans? after all you are the ones who killed thousands of innocent iraqis just to knock off a few cent on your gasoline costs :P if the mexicans do invade you, i think the rest of the world would look the other way ^^ cheers

      Reply
      • William Barentine

        Someone once asked me why we went to Iraq…
        All I could muster was: that we had to bomb somebody to retaliate, for 911.
        Could be worse…
        We could have bombed Canada and blamed them for our weakness at our southern border!
        If those in "charge" had any cajones, we'd not have the problems we all face today.
        In all honesty, at one time I was inclined to agree with you, but not today.
        Oil and Gas prices and everything associated with transportation costs have steadily gone up….
        Lumber, steel, feed, and food!
        Why the war happened, who caused it, is not for me to say or debate, as I will never be privy to the facts, only lies and propoganda. Only the drug cartels and their minions would ever attempt such a thing, and they are vastly outnumbered today…Just by the civilian population alone. ( forget the leo's and military!)
        BUT, there are at least 203+ cities in this country that have drug cartels in them, and I have yet to see one agency do much in regards to it!

    • Kesten

      I’ll have to check that movie out and I’m not surprised with the things that go on with the border patrol these days.

      Reply
  4. Jexx

    Number 6 is a mistake. The image is tha of Mad Max 2- The Road Warrior. Mad Max is not so much a post apocalyptic film, as PRE-apocalytic with the break down in society and all.

    Reply
  5. Survival Podcast

    Excellent post! The need for planning is so essential and to involve all parties more so. Many times a family has only one member that takes such things seriously, that is why I put so much emphasis on documentation of planning, contact numbers, etc.

    When you document everything in print and make sure everyone has it then even the family members that seem to think there is nothing to worry about will know what to do when something goes wrong.

    Note I said when, not if, something will always go wrong it is just a matter of when and how bad. Some problems are small, some pretty big and the potential for a true SHTF is always out there.

    Reply
  6. ermerald

    iam looking for a movie its about this family that their dad is a prisoner and the ship wrecks from a storm and the famiy ands up n an island alone. years past and theyv adopted to the island so they build a house and everything if you have any idea please let me know my e-mail is [email protected] thanks

    Reply
  7. kstover

    Great post. While I do agree that 28 days later should most definately be on the list, the fact that 7 out of the 10 movies were favorites of mine before i "realized" i was a survivalist is really telling. Keep it up!

    Reply
  8. Randyn

    Hey what about Ever Since the World Ended?? There are some good flicks here (12 Monkeys, Red Dawn, the Postman) but ESTWE has them hands down. Check it out on YouTube and then do your survivaling soul a big favour and watch this!

    Reply
  9. Timothy Cahill

    "Why does Red Dawn get our vote for number one survivalist movie? Well because of the realistic plot…"

    Come on.
    Soviet Armed Forces never ever in history had the force projection capabilities to launch, let alone sustain, an invasion of North America. Their surface blue water reach was virtually nil, a global theater in which the USA is still the undisputed hegemon. They had no ability to ship and defend Forces and Supplies across oceans then land against NATO opposition. They barely had the capacity to take and hold Afghanistan, and that was right across their border. In contrast, at the same time, the US could have easily taken and held Mexico AND Canada against strong local resistance. (I know. I'm Canadian). Driving, by land, across the North German Plain was always the maximum capability of East Block military abilities.

    I grew up in a town at the head of a deep-water inlet on the Pacific West Coast. When I was a teen, my pals and I used to drill, using the Improvised Munitions Handbook, scenarios for local resistance to a combined Chinese-Russian Amphibian landing. We knew that a couple of well place munitions would have bottled their forces up on the beach. Stuck there, they would have been defenseless against NORAD air strikes. No contest.

    Nuisance raids on North America? Sure, but only of expendable and disposable forces. Red Dawn was about as realistic as Elmo, Barney and the Teletubbies.

    Also: You've forgotten "The day of the Triffids".

    Reply
    • Survivalspot

      Good point Timothy. I think we meant was "realistic" compared to the other videos. Zombies, time travel etc. are very unrealistic and so Red Dawn at least contains certain elements of reality. Plus it showed that survival in the wilderness was rough and that in war there are casualties.

      Reply
  10. bane

    Crap. Waterworld is a boring move that lasts too long. 12 monkeys? Its mind boggling SF where you have to take notes just to follow whats going on, no survival anywhere. A good movie dough. Postman ? Check Waterworld and multiply it by 10, its a c-r-a-p. Red Dawn? Come on. We are not 12yrs old, spare us cheap politics and stereotypes.

    Anything near survivalism worth watching are here are:
    1. Tremors
    2. Deliverance (man, this one can be disturbing, don't traumatize your kids)
    3. Dawn of the Dead
    4. Mad Max (must see, keep small kids away!)
    … and finally, not really a survivalism but a classic that is worth seeing zillion times:
    5. Terminator 2

    Reply
  11. capjclark

    I think that the movie "THE EDGE" is a fine example of a survival situation. I lived in Alaska for some 20 years and can relate to the situation in the movie. The analitical mind wins and that is the truth. I was actively involved in USCG search & rescue in Alaska for many years and being of a survivalist mind set I can attest to the skills displayed in the movie.

    Reply
    • dave

      Excellent!…I’m glad to see others comment on the skills displayed on “The Edge”.

      Reply
  12. Don

    The CBS Series "Jericho" should have made the list. Probably the most realistic background of any TV show or movie made so far.

    BTW, love Red Dawn. I remember seeing it several times when it came out at the Movies…after taking two dates to the show, I stopped taking them and went by myself so I could watch it in peace!

    Reply
  13. Stan

    There was an old BBC series called "Survivor", an English version of post-apocolistic plauge enviroment, played on some PBS stations in the mid-eighties. Very realistic scenarios, food scrounging, packs of dogs running wild, re-developing markets/barter, some friendly communities and some undesireable travellers, replanting and learning to deal with animal husbandry. I remember the most needed skills were medical(doctors needed to be protected), electrical, machinists.
    Thought provoking with enlightening moments.

    Reply
  14. Fred

    I can't believe no one has mentioned the movie "Snow Walker". The story of an Alaskan bush pilot and young eskimo girl that survived a plane crash in the Alaskan outback…. GREAT MOVIE !!!! Free to watch over the the internet but I forgot which site…I believe it was on YouTube.com in the "shows" section.

    Reply
  15. Todd

    Glad I stumbled on this list! I have ever one but 12 Monkeys! I`ll have to get that one sounds like it's good based on reviews here and on amazon.

    thanks!

    Reply
  16. Todd

    Fred – I agree Snow Walker is an AWESOME movie! I have that on DVD too, and it's WELL worth the purchase.

    I also like "Alone in the Wilderness" documentary… not a "movie" but def. about survival, and being alone.

    Reply
  17. ~~HA~~

    Good list. I would have put night of the living dead in there somewhere because I so very much enjoy human interaction within a survival type environment.

    And Stan, there is a remake of the BBC Survivors series that came out in 2008, which you might enjoy. It is quite similar with a flu virus killing 99% of the population leaving the rest to "survive" out by themselves.

    You may also like Day of the Triffids. It is a short series made by the BBC which has a similar survival theme. Basically, most of the world goes blind and the survivors are left to remake society, all while avoiding man eating walking plants (sounds silly, but it is remarkably well done).

    Reply
  18. bunky

    i know it might sound childish but theres alot you can learn from "The Wilderness Family" i know thats the way i would want to live but there are really no more places you can do this…….. but again red dawn, deliverance, and tremors are great movies i dont get into to much of the futuristic stuff……also the hills have eyes and wrong turn have some survival aspects to them

    Reply
  19. Kris

    WORST MOVIE OF ALL TIME (that I've seen) AND IT HAPPENS TO BE ABOUT SURVIVAL.

    Anyone seen "The Survivalist?"….Steve Railsback. 1987. This POS is the worst acted, worst written, worst edited, WORST EVERYTHING!

    I bought it on eBay and actually watched it all the way through so I could say I saw the worst movie in the history of movies!!!……HAHAHAHHAH.

    Reply
  20. bunky

    it all depends on what kind of survival we're talkin about here but "The Day After" is about aftermath of nuclear war then you have "The Day After Tomorrow" and "Deep Impact" are all good movies that have to do with survival.

    Reply
  21. Texas Tornado

    Out of all of these posts not one of you even mentioned one of the best survival films I believe there was “Cast Away” Tom hanks does a great job in portraying a man surviving on a deserted island after his fedex plain crashes in the ocean. This deals with all realistic elements such as being alone, having to adapt to your surroundings and learn how to literally survive the elements and situation. This one by far has my thimbs up!!!

    Reply
  22. josh fleshman

    yea cast away is awesome! i remember watching my side of the mountain when i was a kid and have enjoyed watching similar flicks since. im sure all of us have alittle robinson crusoe in us at one time or another.

    Reply
  23. Amy

    Rambo taught me more about survival than Terminator and Waterworld. These aren't survival movies so much as doomsday movies.

    Reply
  24. Jarhead Jon

    Waterworld sucks ass. I can't believe that it even gets a mention. Terminator II? More crap.
    What about Jeremiah Johnson, Death Hunt, The Flight of the Phoenix (original) , or Defiance?

    Reply
  25. Don

    It's an old one, but how about Panic in Year Zero. Watch it if you ever get the chance. Also The Mountain Men with
    Charelton Heston.

    Reply
  26. virginia

    Hey everybody, you better start thinking about your own survival now because things are going to get a lot worse with the economy, unemployment and
    with very high taxes to come. Those who pray, plan, prepare, conserve, recycle and become more knowledgeable on many things should survive, but
    I feel the most valuable resources is water, food,
    shelter, guns, ammo and antibiotics. You cannot count on others or the government. Your survival is in your own hands. Don’t ever forget that! Do something about it now before it is too late, I am doing what I can every week buying and stocking up on what I can.
    Research all that you can online and compare prices everywhere and be diligent about it.
    Don’t have most of your money in the bank, have cash on hand in bills $20 and less and change.
    Plus pay off all debts and cut up those credit cards!, so they don’t bankrupt you. They say on many on tv news shows that our countries debt now is over 3 trillion dollars and next year it will be 8 – 9 trillion dollars. Us tax payers
    many will go broke paying for it all.
    That’s what more government does and tries to control the people more and more till they lose all their rights and freedoms.
    You all be good now and take care.

    Reply
    • virginia

      Hey everybody, you better start thinking about your own survival now because things are going to get a lot worse with the economy, unemployment and
      with very high taxes to come. Those who pray, plan, prepare, conserve, recycle and become more knowledgeable on many things should survive, but
      I feel the most valuable resources is water, food,
      shelter, guns, ammo and antibiotics. You cannot count on others or the government. Your survival is in your own hands. Don’t ever forget that! Do something about it now before it is too late, I am doing what I can every week buying and stocking up on what I can.
      Research all that you can online and compare prices everywhere and be diligent about it.
      Don’t have most of your money in the bank, have cash on hand in bills $20 and less and change.
      Plus pay off all debts and cut up those credit cards!, so they don’t bankrupt you. They say on many on tv news shows that our countries debt now is over 3 trillion dollars and next year it will be 8 – 9 trillion dollars. Us tax payers
      many will go broke paying for it all.
      That’s what more government does and tries to control the people more and more till they lose all their rights and freedoms.
      You all be good now and take care.
      Also my personal survival movie favorites are
      Gone With The Wind, Deliverance, Rambo, The Edge
      and Cast Away.

      Reply
  27. Arcane Radio

    A personal favorite of mine has always been Robinson Crusoe on Mars. A very dated but accurate for it’s day. Imagine the survival skills needed to if you are all alone and stranded on Mars.

    Reply
  28. Bruce Jones

    Has anyone read "One Second After" by William R. Forstchen? He makes some very well researched projections about what would happen after a serious crippling event in the US. In "story form" he provides realiatic projections regarding food, restoring local transportation, closed community formation and structure, self-defence, and probable violence. Being aware of, and preparing for, the major, predictable "waves" of events that will follow the breakdown of government and shipping, will be a powerful tool of survival when things fall apart. The book should give us all pause for thought.

    Reply
    • tom

      That's an excellent book, very dark, but his description of the breakdown of society was realistic in my view. Most people couldn't begin to imagine just how fragile modern society is, how much one system depends on another system, and how a catastrophic failure in one or more for any sustained period would result in a domino effect throwing society into havoc and anarchy.

      Highly recommend one second after, well written and compelling book.

      Reply
  29. bobblehead

    28 days later is very good one. i like survival type movie very much.

    Reply
  30. ZombieRN

    so what about Defiance? i agree that 28 days later should be on the list, as well as Dawn of the Dead (the original of course), but another interesting one to consider might be Zombieland. I mean, come on… if Waterworld made it, we are clearly not dealing with realistic situations.

    Reply
  31. Menthol

    Where the hell is Cast Away on this list? That's more realistically "survival" than the rest of these movies.

    Reply
  32. Dawn-er Party

    Red Dawn is one of my all time favorite movies! Unrealistic… yes. But I have great childhood memories of watching that show and then playing "army" with my friends. My wife just told me last night that it was one of the worst shows she has ever seen. After telling her it was one of my faves we both laughed and teased each other about our choice of movies. 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead are also great!

    Reply
  33. cat60

    Mayhem as an exotic oil eating microbe that has infected the fuel supply and society falls apart,fast! Only a book by R. scott Reiss called "Black Monday" End of life as you know it!!

    Reply
  34. TAUL

    ALL OF ARE LOSERS
    THE ROAD IS THE GREATEST SURVIVAL MOVIE EVER MADE!
    ANYONE WHO DESAGREES IS AN IDIOT!

    Reply
  35. TAUL

    ALL OF ARE LOSERS
    THE ROAD IS THE GREATEST SURVIVAL MOVIE EVER MADE!
    ANYONE WHO DESAGREES IS AN IDIOT!

    Reply
    • alex

      caps lock idiot haha …desagrees! boring movies … a good russian survival movie BRAT

      Reply
  36. cdub

    This is a poor list….off the top of my head I would add THE ROAD and 28 WEEKS LATER before even putting waterworld on this list. God whoever wrote this better of not gotten paid for it….

    Reply
  37. minneapplebird

    I think the main problem with these posts is that many are comparing science fiction survival to realistic survival…it's apples and oranges.

    Reply
  38. BG mail

    There are some attention-grabbing deadlines on this article but I don’t know if I see all of them heart to heart. There is some validity however I’ll take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

    Reply
  39. Eric

    The road was a good glimpse of what it could look like. I agree with the Little House bit above!

    Reply
  40. Mack

    someone mentioned frozen in the comments! haha that movie was terrible, the characters were morons it looked like it was filmed on a budget of about 30 dollars and not to mention completely unrealistic with the wolf situation.

    Reply
  41. Comrade Klitschko

    Cant believe no-one has mentioned Alive. Fantastic film and the book by Nando Parrado is spellbinding

    Reply
  42. chuck

    THE ROAD!!!
    I have been to the tunnels were it was filmed and went geocaching there.

    Reply
  43. Brad

    The Road, Alive, Into the Wild… much better; and none of them listed. I do have a soft spot in my heart for Red Dawn. If you want a maniac trying to kill you and you are outsmarting them (for awhile) type movie, try No Country for old men.

    Reply
  44. Ross

    Ok if all the trees and plants were dead in that movie how in the hell were humans still breathing? I'm not saying I'm just saying.

    Reply
  45. Ben

    I ordered it, recieved it, picked it up when it arrived and could not put it down once I started reading practically. I read it in two days. Very entertaining, and excellent book in my opinion. Thought provoking for sure, and the author really made me visualize what was going on in the story. I recommend it to all of my friends yet not on ehas read it yet, Ha ha. Several say they want to but they don't read period. I wish it would be made into a feature film. Ben in Northern CA

    Reply
  46. tim zwick

    I concur…First Blood is an absolute classic. I ran into this commentary section out of a fluke. How about Jeremiah Johnson, folks? 127 Hours? The Edge? These are bona fide survival themes.

    Reply

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