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50 Best Survival Movies

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These are, in my opinion, the 50 best survival movies (that I’ve seen). They are in alphabetical order. If I missed any, let me know in the comments section.

1. 28 Days Later – After waking up from a coma, a man finds London has been overrun by hordes of rabid zombies.

2. 30 Days of Night – Brilliant adaptation of the terrifying graphic novel. A small town in Alaska is under siege as a group of vampires attack the townspeople.

3. 2012 – The story is pretty weak, but the special effects and ridiculously suspenseful escapes are fun to watch.

4. A Boy And His Dog – A boy and his telepathic dog survive in the wilderness after WWIV has turned the country into a desert-like wasteland.

5. A Cry in the Wild – The story of a young man’s survival in the Canadian wilderness after his plane crashes.

6. Aftershock: Earthquake in New York – After New York City is rocked by a massive earthquake, two men face uncertainty as their own family members lie buried in the toppled buildings.

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7. Alive – A team of tough rugby players resort to drastic methods in order to survive after their plane crashes in the snow-covered Andes.

8. Behind Enemy Lines – After his plane gets shot down in Bosnia, Burnett is alone and trying to outrun a pursuing army.

9. Book of Eli – Frightening look at America after a nuclear war. Eli is on a mission to deliver an important book.

10. Carriers – Four kids attempt to outrun a viral pandemic that threatens to wipe out the entire population.

11. Cast Away – Amazing story of survival on a desert island after a man’s plane crashes. One of Tom Hanks’ most impressive performances.

12. Children of Men – For years, no one has been able to have children and the world faces the potential end of the human race. But when I man meets a pregnant girl, he has to get her to safety.

13. City of Ember – A secret city has been built to save mankind from a worldwide disaster, but the city’s days are numbered.

14. Cloverfield – A group of friends struggle to survive in New York City as a gigantic monster ravages the city.

15. Dances With Wolves – A lone soldier makes friends with and eventually joins a tribe of Native Americans.

16. Dante’s Peak – Great depiction of how an unexpected volcano eruption could devastate a small town.

17. Dawn Of The Dead – After a virus turns most of the population into blood-thirsty zombies, a group of survivors make their last stand on the roof of a mall.

18. Deep Impact – A teenager discovers a comet that turns out to be headed toward Earth. People struggle to reach safety before it’s too late.

19. Defiance – True story of the Bielski brothers, simple farmers who turned a group of war refugees into powerful freedom fighters.

20. Doomsday – To save humanity from an epidemic, an elite fighting unit must battle to find a cure in a post-apocalyptic zone controlled by a society of murderous renegades.

21. Empire of the Sun – A young British boy’s noble spirit allows him to survive the hardships of a Japanese prison camp in China during World War II.

22. Enemy at the Gates – WWII epic about a Russian and a German soldier.

23. Escape from New York – In the near future, crime is everywhere and New York City is a maximum security prison.

24. Farewell to the King – During WWII, an American soldier escapes his Japanese captors and flees into the jungles of Borneo.

25. I Am Legend – The story of a lone human survivor in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by genetically-mutated humans.

26. Into the Wild – The true story of Christopher McCandless who gave up his money and possessions and went in search of adventure.

27. Iron Will – Based on a true-life story, a young man and his team of sled dogs embark on a grueling and treacherous cross-country marathon, in hopes of winning a $10,000 prize.

28. Jeremiah Johnson – One man’s effort to shed the burden of civilization and learn to survive in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains.

29. Lord Of The Flies – A group of children from a military academy are stranded on an island. Eventually they turn savage and start to kill each other.

30. Miracle Mile – When a man finds out about an imminent nuclear holocaust, he and his friend attempt to escape the city before it’s too late.

31. Panic in Year Zero – A post-nuke survival story of a father who fights to protect his family from looters, rapists and murderers.

32. Red Dawn – A group of teenagers fight back after Russians and Cubans invade America.

33. Schindler’s List – The story of a man who saved hundreds of Jews from the concentration camps.

34. Six Days, Seven Nights – A pilot and his passenger struggle for survival after crashing on a deserted island.

35. Swiss Family Robinson – After being shipwrecked on a deserted island, the Robinson family overcome the obstacles of nature and transform their new home into a community.

36. Terminator Salvation – Humans battle against machines in a post-apocalyptic world.

37. Testament – An unexpected nuclear strike has occurred and no one knows who did it or why it happened.

38. The Crazies – A mysterious virus is put into the water supply of a small Iowa town turning the towns people crazy.

39. The Day After – The inhabitants of a small town in Kansas learn along with the rest of America that they have fewer than 30 minutes before 300 Soviet warheads begin to appear overhead.

40. The Edge – Two men up against a giant Kodiak bear, and their own inner demons, when lost together in the Alaskan wilderness.

41. The Flight of the Phoenix – Robert Aldrich’s tense, 1965 drama about a plane crash in the Sahara is a unique psychological study of men in desperate circumstances.

42. The Patriot – Not the one starring Mel Gibson. A small town is infected with lethal virus by an extremist group.

43. The Postman – A drifter leads the resistance against a military tyrant after a collapse.

44. The Quiet Earth – A government research scientist wakes up to discover that he may be the last man on earth.

45. The Road – A father and his son search for food and supplies in a nuclear winter.

46. The Road Warrior – In a post-nuclear war world, Gibson plays Max, a lone adventurer who drives the roads of outback Australia in an endless search for gasoline.

47. The Snow Walker – The story of an Alaskan bush pilot and young Eskimo girl who survived a plane crash in the Alaskan outback.

48. The Stand – A government-spawned superflu wipes out more than 99 percent of the world’s population.

49. War of The Worlds – The new version has some great special effects, but overall the original is better.

50. Zombieland – Survivors have to learn to trust each other after the world is overrun with zombies. This is a really fun movie!

What to read next: 50 MORE of the Best Survival Movies

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  • Dru Zornes

    You left out On The Beach.

  • Dee

    Great list. Thank you.

  • http://www.jenmalin.com Jennifer Malin

    How about Apollo 13? And note that Alive is a true story, too, which makes it absolutely amazing.

  • Survivalridge

    Good list. Some movies i’d not heard of. Did ya forget First Blood??

  • Sat

    Def Con 4 and Grey Lady Down

  • Fred

    you need to add two more:

    The Way Back
    127 Hours

  • Barbarian

    There is an awesome 2 hour disaster/survival show running now on TV called “When Aliens Attack”. It depicts a hypothetical attack by an advanced alien armada who destroy human civilization around the world within hours of arriving. After that it shows how humanity would survive with no modern technologies and our entire infrastructure destroyed.  

  • Heather

    Forgot to add “the Grey”

  • David Bech Paulsen

    Survival Quest (1988) anyone? Starring Lance Henriksen and Dermot Mulroney.

  • Silvan


    Hell (2011 film)  It tells the story of a group of survivors in a dystopian Germany of
    the year 2016, when solar flares have destroyed the earth’s atmosphere
    and temperatures have risen by 10° C. The survivors are on their way
    into the mountains where they expect to find water and vegetation.

  • Crumpled Star

    How about “Day of the Triffids”

  • Jack Wolf

    How could they forget “Soylent Green”? Perhaps it hit too close to home now that impacts from climate change are clearly seen. “On the Beach” is another star filled great one. (Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, Eva Garner, Anthony Perkins) That one is hard to find. Considering the NYT called it the most important film of the year, it should be widely shown but it is not. Perhaps that too hits too close to home.