In the movie version of Cormac McCarthy’s best-selling novel The Road (out on DVD and Blu-ray May 25th), an unnamed man (Viggo Mortensen) leads his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) through the blasted, empty remains of America as he fights to keep the boy alive at all costs. It’s never explained what exactly left the country -- and, we assume, the rest of the world -- so horribly devastated. Was it a meteor? A nuclear war? The effects of catastrophic climate change?
Although it’s never spelled out what caused the cataclysm in The Road, each of those scenarios above has been the basis of one or more post-apocalyptic movies. In fact, Hollywood has always done a good job of finding ways to destroy the Earth, or at the very least wipe most of mankind off its surface. Here’s a look at eight ways filmmakers have found to take us out -- and the movies that have best realized their vision of Armageddon.