7 Survival Movies To Watch And Learn

Call me old-school, but when it comes to having massive fun indoors (especially with your friends and family), nothing beats watching a good movie while enjoying a cold beer and the traditional popcorn.

It’s also common knowledge that most people would enjoy a proper disaster flick, the likes of 2012, Deep Impact or Armageddon. Disaster movie stories are usually centered on people trying to survive extraordinary circumstances and events.

Now, from a prepper’s point of view, watching a survival movie is something like a sporting event for a normie, and I am talking about what tickles your fancy, so to speak.

While regular folk enjoy watching a good game of football or various TV series/shows (OK, we love doing that too), we preppers also like to watch and debate survival/disaster movies as a way to exercise their prepper mindset and to discuss what the hero’s next move should be, what he or she does good or wrong and what’s absolutely ludicrous.

Sometimes, they’re just a great comedy!

Basically, a good survival movie encourages preppers to think strategically and to imagine their own behavior in a SHTF situation. In my view, well-made survival movies (scarce though they are) are beyond entertainment, being more like a training session of sorts, if you know what I mean.

Also, watching survival movies with your family members (and prepper friends alike) and commenting “live” as things happen on the screen encourages you to think critically about SHTF situations. Also, you try to predict the outcome of a bad decision or a good one made by the hero, with an emphasis on boneheaded ones, which are  often the norm.

Even if Hollywood (read the motion-picture industry) usually produces tons of garbage, now and then a true gem of a survival movie appears almost magically. These rare flicks give us ideas and thoughts on how to prepare for when SHTF.

It really doesn’t matter what a movie is about, as long as we’re talking about a plausible scenario, such as in 2012 or San Andreas, or even a good old zombie/alien movie.

What’s important from a prepper’s perspective is to see and analyze how regular people may possibly react in extraordinary circumstances; that’s what will provide you with food for thought.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

So, after this relatively long preamble, let me share with you what I’ve learned after watching dozens of disaster movies, all of them loaded with awesome survival tactics.

First, teamwork is essential for your survival, despite the “lone wolf” mentality many preppers seem to (wrongfully, in my opinion) have. When a disaster strikes, chances are good that you’ll not going to be “solo.”

Working as a team will increase the chances of survival. There’s strength in numbers and there’s also a thing called the division of labor because you can’t do everything by yourself. That’s been obvious since the dawn of man on Earth.

Also, we’re social animals, centered on community (family, tribe, etc.). Lone wolves sound great in theory, but in real life, even wolves hunt in packs and are social animals.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

To give you an example of fine teamwork from a survival flick, let’s take Dawn of the Dead, an awesome 2004 movie which tells the story of a group of survivors (and we’re using that word really loosely) taking refuge inside a shopping center during a zombie apocalypse.

As more of them arrive in the shopping mall, they realize that they’ll have to stick together and work as a team in order to withstand the hordes of (not so smart) zombies.

Also, Dawn of the Dead teaches you about the importance of planning and preparing: having a good refuge, an escape plan, of being able to determine who’s to be trusted and who’s not and, most importantly, that a group’s cohesion is given by its weakest link (there’s an asshole in every group of random people).

Oh, and on that note, you also learn that sometimes you don’t have to be the smartest one in the group as long as you’re not the dumbest one. I’m kidding, sort of.

Video first seen on Movieclips.

Another lesson learned from watching disaster flicks is that it’s critical to know the risks of your geographical location (as in knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses) in a SHTF situation.

Food for thought: if your city is close to a nuclear plant or in front of a big dam, in the case of a catastrophic earthquake or a nasty meteor impact, or why not, a terrorist attack on critical infrastructure, well, you’ll be forced to deal with some serious issues. Here, the value of an escape plan and escape route comes into play big time.

Also, it would help to understand the science of your region, especially if you live in places like California or Yellowstone. You got the picture.

San Andreas (2015)

Think along the lines of San Andreas, the 2015 movie which is loaded with awesome survival strategies and lessons. San Andreas depicts the horrifying consequences of a massive earthquake in California as a rescue chopper pilot makes a perilous  journey across the state to save his daughter.

Watching the movie, you’ll understand a little bit about human psychology.

For example, in a disaster, especially one of epic proportions, ownership of property becomes a fiction, i.e. emergency stuff can be found in a home or, in the movie, a car that isn’t yours if the situation really calls for it, and looting occurs in a matter of hours, not days. Hence, remember to have your gun for self-defense ready, locked and loaded at all times.

Also, the first few moments after SHTF are critical for one’s survival; if you panic and give in to mental chaos, you’ll just end up as yet another casualty/statistic. Do not freak out, and try to get over that state of shock ASAP, as this will give you a critical advantage over those unprepared for such an event.

Video first seen on Km Music.

The thing is, even in B-rated movies you can see a fact of life: people panic rather quickly and behave badly and stupidly, as life-threating events bring out the worst in many of us.

As shown in many disaster flicks, including San Andreas, the police and firefighters will bail in order to take care of their own families, and that’s quite understandable. The lesson to be taken home is that you can’t rely on the government to protect or save you.

Also, having some basic physics and engineering knowledge couldn’t hurt.

In the aftermath of a major disaster, whether it’s a terrorist attack or an earthquake or whatever, panicked people do the dumbest things imaginable, and that’s another true fact of life, unfortunately.

And that’s due to one’s shattered cognitive dissonance, i.e. modern-day people (especially city dwellers) are used to living their boring and safe lives in the complete absence of any clear and present danger.

They’ve become complacent and take that perceived “safety” for granted. When the universe explodes around them, they’ll behave like the proverbial chicken without a head, while others will be stunned, in shock and awe, and completely incapable of doing the most basic things like running for cover.

The Road (2009)

Another great survival flick is The Road, a movie released in 2009 that tells the story of a man and his young son as they travel by foot in a post-apocalyptic world through the mountains, searching for an illusory safe haven before the coming winter.

The theme of the movie is survival by any means necessary. What’s very shocking about this flick is the accurate way it portrays the dark side of mankind, the way people will resort to anything, even cannibalism, in order to survive.

Video first seen on 0noyfb.

The movie will teach you how to be careful when approaching strangers (not all people think like you, nor are they Good Samaritans), how to carry your survival gear over long distances, and that starvation is not an event but a long and painful process.

Also, having a gun and enough ammo will save your life, while keeping the fire (as in never stop fighting for a good cause) is quintessential. Your faith, provided you’re a “good guy,” will guide you and help your actions, yet you’ll have to be prepared to kill bad people, or you’ll end up getting killed. Also, you’ll learn that groups of desperate people are extremely dangerous and may kill you, or get you killed, for nothing really.

The Day after Tomorrow (2004)

Another disaster movie worth watching is The Day after Tomorrow. This movie depicts survival techniques in extremely low temperatures following the world freezing via a man-provoked ice-age.

Video first seen on Luis Trejo.

What to learn from? Big cities are very difficult to escape in case of a SHTF scenario, i.e. you’ll have to consider relocating if possible and always plan for bad weather conditions.

Zombieland (2009)

A very funny survival flick to watch is Zombieland, which makes for yet another post-zombie-apocalypse survival movie. Watching this gem, which is hilarious to say the least, you’ll understand why you should create a comprehensive set of rules to increase your survival chances.

The first rule of survival: cardio is essential! As in, stay in good shape. Also, people in distress will try to trick you, steal your stuff, and then leave you stranded; this is a trait of the human nature.

Video first seen on Video Clips HD.

Also, don’t scare folks if you don’t want to get shot and Twinkies make for the ultimate survival food (the last one is debatable).

The Edge (1997)

The Edge is the story of a billionaire who survives a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, together with two of his friends. This movie depicts in a very accurate manner how people react under stress when confronted with unfamiliar situations.

Also you get how important it is to have basic survival skills, such as knowing basic first aid methods, how to navigate sans gear, how to improvise a compass, how to build basic weapons such as spears, and how to defend yourself against predators.

Video first sen on blackruskie.

Finally, this epic saga emphasizes the importance of knowledge, smarts, and skills over the oh-so-common macho-ninja stuff and special effects.

Into the Wild (2007)

Into the Wild is the true story of a guy named Christopher McCandles who died stupidly as he abandoned his privileged life and adventured into the wild, searching for adventure.

Video first seen on carinemccandless.

The thing is that this guy had absolutely no idea about wilderness survival, no skills, and basically no gear. And yes, he died of starvation in a cabin, which is pretty pathetic, to say the least.

The lesson to be taken home after watching this movie is to never go out in the wild unprepared. Life in the wilderness is not romantic, but a savage and brutal struggle for survival 24/7/365.

The importance of having the right mindset first of all is not a matter to be taken lightly in an outdoors survival situation.

Bottom line, have you seen a good survival movie recently? What did you think? Do you have any survival lessons to add? Share your thoughts in the dedicated section below!

Written by

Chris Black is a born and bred survivalist. He used to work as a contractor for an intelligence service but now he is retired and living off the grid, as humanly possible. An internet addict and a gun enthusiast, a libertarian with a soft spot for the bill of rights and the Constitution, a free market idealist, he doesn't seem very well adjusted for the modern world. You can send Chris a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
  • The Walking Dead is a great survival show, if you forget the zombies and pay attention to the things the people have to go thru to survive mental and physical it is worth watching.

    • I agree… years after shtf gasoline will still be readily available and batteries will continue to charge. Food in small country stores won’t have spoiled and people will only get sick from infection.

  • Good article, was just wandering why Red Dawn the original didn’t make the cut?

  • An older survival movie you may have overlooked would be “Panic in Year Zero”, with Ray Milland. Very enlightening considering when it was made.

    • My first thought is “Panic”. Thanks for mentioning it. These folks deal with what most would after a nUClear attack. Having an RV trailer gave them a quiCk advantage since it was it was loaded with food, but gasoline became a problem for them. Of course, and people who wanted what they had. We could be looking aT This sCene Soon.

  • The two season TV series “Jericho” is about a small town in Kansas and how they had to deal with being cut off from everything and not knowing what was going on after various cities in the US were nuked. They had to deal with food, fuel, medical shortages and attacks by scavengers and rogue govt. groups. They also had to deal with fighting neighboring towns & cites becoming enemies for the scarce resources. This is best depiction I have ever seen on what could happen and how to practically deal with it, I have ever seen.

  • The Road wasn’t really about surviving as much as it was about giving up. The guy and his son had it made when they found the underground bunker full of everything they needed to survive. He gave it up because the dog found them. Geez, feed the dog and he”l be your best friend and help defend your newly found home! I was very disappointed with the Road.

  • I have a disabled son living with me, who is very isolated. We talk about prepping. He has found his favorite Prepping TV show: Naked and Afraid.. I watch it with him because he likes it. We talk regularly about what the two (or more) characters are not doing, such as in the circumstances of being naked, they do not figure out how to make shoes, no matter how temporary what they may make may last. The also don’t start collecting tinders and kindling right from the start so as to have a dry basis for a fire, when they know shelter is their first priority. Dealing with biting inscts comes up regularly. Very few use mud. Once in awhile someone knows how to make a weave type of covering. There are other TV series type shows that have been on in the last few years. that we also watch–one happening on Vancouver Island (food and rain are issues there); and then the old guy who lives out in the Boonies of Washington, who addresses caching and knowing where edibles are.. As one reader commented, I also liked Jericho, especially for how the population at large (in a close-enough knit community) would likely respond, and the importance of leadership for all who will stay in a Bug In context. My opinion is not watching Movies, but reading historical based novels about how people survived WWII, and especially those who hid Jews in essentially “home cache places” (hidden dug outs in homes), as well as how people survived the dust bowl days (my point being that survival should be viewed as common to anybody in any time, and regardless that in today’s world there are differences in people than in former and much earlier decades). It is OK to focus on people today and envisioned hazards, but don’t forget those who have survived real world severe and long lasting hazards even in starving Bug-In situations. Suggestion: read carefully researched historical novels.

  • I was also disappointed in “the Road” because of the first and on-going mistake of simply not teaching the son what he needed to know. The father made mistake after mistake (we all make mistakes, but most of us learn from them), “the road” in my opinion, shows what not to do., and one of these things, is to not pamper the kids. I’m quite sure that neither Daniel boone nor Davy crockett were pampered as kids. And what was that when he carried the kid on his back while barefoot as he was chasing the thief who took their gear at the beach? Yes, the movie conveyed a fathers’ love for his child, but that’s about it. way too many mistakes in a survival situation. And that ignores the “magic lighter” that was still going strong for the last 10 years… on a better note, the movie “here alone” was much more realistic, despite the zombie-like humans ravaged by an Epidemic. shelter, fire, scent-masking, fall-back campsite, keeping a low profile.

    • I don’t think the ROAD was intended to show an experienced prepper or any special survival skills. Just an average family caught up in teotwawki situation. and trying to ‘wing it’ as they went along. It was more psychological in demonstrating the change your brain stress something like this would cause. A lot of people also miss ;why; they were ON the road in the first place and where they were going, until the end if they even got it then? Which was that final realization that ‘indeed’, it pretty much was the end of civilivization as they knew it and they had to start all over again on the coastal shores, where early civilizations often migrated to and developed .because of resources..