My last Fallout post explored the influence of film on the game, with the main focus being Terminator. However, there are a number of other films that should be considered sacred to any wasteland survivor out there. The following list is a selection of some of (in my opinion) the best, must-see movies about the end of the world (or after).
The following movies are not anywhere near as popular as Terminator, or Mad Max. I would be very surprised to see any of them get reboots (but these days, there’s really no telling how far down the vault Hollywood is willing to dig in order to make a fast buck). You may consider them classics as I do, or you may have never heard about them. If you haven’t, don’t worry. That’s what this is all about.
A Boy and his Dog.
This is the story of post-nuclear survival, and the relationship between a teenage boy (Don Johnson) and his dog (voiced by Tim McIntire). The two have a telepathic bond and bicker like an old married couple throughout the course of the film, which is a mod that would be pretty cool to see on Dogmeat. By the way, the name “Dogmeat” is an insult from the opening minutes of this film, so there’s that.
The film starts with a bang, or rather a series of atomic blasts, followed by a bit of exposition text concerning the war that produced them. The story begins in the year 2024 as the boy and his dog come across the scene of a gang rape. A screaming girl can be heard as they approach the scene. While Albert (the boy) manages to knock out a scout, seconds later the sound of two gunshots can be heard and the girl stops screaming. They’re too late to save her. They hunker down while four raiders (for lack of a better name) come out of the pit and go on their way. One of them, with a disturbingly young voice can be heard asking, “Did you see her jerk when I cut her?” The kid sounds maybe ten years old and in that first scene the audience is brought face to face with the ugliness and brutality of this world.
The next few minutes reveal that Albert isn’t the hero you hoped he was. During the mid 1970s, heroes had gone out of style, and anti-heroes were the latest thing. Several classic movies emerged from this trend, including The Godfather, and Death Wish. A Boy and His Dog uses the same trend because Albert isn’t a hero, but a would-be rapist, who only turns his nose up to their murder of the girl because, “she could have been used two or three more times”.
His sole purpose in life is to use his dog’s ability to track down girls so that he can get his rocks off. It is the type of movie that could only have been made in the time that it was, and it puts a very dark spin on the whole post-nuclear survival fantasy embraced in the Fallout series. While you will most likely be very uncomfortable stuck with a rapist for a protagonist, the story is compelling, some of the shots are very striking, the shanty towns are familiar, and the whole thing is up on youtube right now.
I first saw this film when I was a young kid, and it scared the crap out of me. Damnation Alley is responsible for Radscorpions, which have existed in every game in the Fallout series. It is also the inspiration for Radroaches which have been in the series since Fallout 3 (although the roaches in the film weren’t giant, they were still a flesh-eating force of terror).
Finally, there are a number of radiation storms in the film which remind me of that weather effect in Fallout 4. It follows a group of survivors a few years after the war as they travel across the country in a military bus/tank vehicle. Damnation Alley features actual heroes, which is a refreshing change of pace compared to A Boy and His Dog. This movie is also available on youtube as of the publication date of this blog
The Day After
Not to be confused with The Day After Tomorrow, this is the highest rates made-for-TV movie to date, it was released in 1983 and viewed by over 100 million people when first broadcast. It was then shown in schools across the country in order to terrify the latest batch of children growing up in a world under constant threat of total nuclear annihilation. I was born nine years before the Cold War ended, and so the threat was mostly over by the time I was old enough to start worrying about such things. However for anyone older than me, there was a bone-chilling dread of Atomic war that was just a part of your social reality, which may have been a big reason that cynical anti-heroes had become so popular in the 70’s, because that is a lot of stress to endure on a daily basis.
What makes this film special is that it begins a bit less than a day before the bombs fell. It allows a sizable cast of characters to be introduced in due time, and for their pre-war routines to be shown, while a series of radio and news broadcasts explain the unfolding war in the background. This pre-bomb segment isn’t a nod, or a flashback, or a couple of paragraphs of scrolling text, it is the entire first act of the film. The second act focuses on the bombs dropping as seen from several angles, and the third act shows the characters struggling to survive in the aftermath, succumbing to madness, stress, and radiation sickness.
The opening segment in Fallout 4 reminds me of this movie, with the news in the background keeping tabs of an ongoing war, until the big bang. If you’re curious you can check out the film on,that’s right youtube
The Day After is a character study, light on action but heavy in emotion. The idea of establishing a cast of characters before a certain disaster is one that I have used in The Resistance is Dead. One of the standards of zombie stories is that they begin when the action begins, when the dead rise up. This is all well and good, but I think that considering how popular the genre is that it would be ok to start a bit earlier from time to time, just to switch things up.