By Jeff Labrecque
Updated May 19, 2011 at 09:19 PM EDT
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

I don’t believe that the world is coming to an end on Saturday, but I’m a strong proponent in being prepared. Sooner or later, some doomsday alarmist is going to be right — I guess? — and it can’t hurt to be ready. While others might brace for the End by spending time with loved ones or in houses of worship, I’m preparing for what comes after the End by watching movies. There’s a lot that can be learned from Hollywood about what awaits the unfortunate survivors of a looming apocalypse, and I’d like to suggest the following mini-marathon to get your mind right.

Start with Children of Men. In this dystopian 2006 film, mankind is slowly becoming extinct after the entire planet becomes inexplicably sterile. But when an immigrant gets miraculously pregnant, Clive Owen has to keep her from the clutches of the totalitarian government. People aren’t eating each other yet, but it’s a grim movie. Still, there’s a spark of hope, and your will to live will survive enough to watch The Road Warrior (1981). This classic Mel Gibson action film might actually make some punk anarchists who always yearned to wear football shoulder pads root for the End to come. But there’s also some helpful takeaway: Buy a Prius, and a smart dog is worth having even if you have to share his canned food with him.

Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later (2002) imagines a world that has totally lost its humanity, what with a highly communicable virus that turns folks into blood-thirsty zombies. Cillian Murphy plays the recovering comatose patient who slept through London’s demise and who wakes up only to be chased by the sprinting dead. There are plenty of helpful lessons here, though: (1) Relax. In fact, if you can sleep through or even pretend to sleep through the initial chaos, your chances go up; (2) The military might be just as deadly as the zombies; (3) If the rats are running away from something, best to head in the same direction they are.

The post-apocalypse world is going to suck, but I don’t want you to think it has to be all-miserable. In I Am Legend (2008), Will Smith shows us that a depleted human population offers opportunities you and I could never expect unless the world crashed. I’m talking about hunting deer in Times Square, hitting golf balls off the Intrepid, racing through Manhattan in a sweet cherry-red sportscar, and never having to worry about your friends making fun of your mannequin fetish. I’m just saying.

After that relative sunny diversion, it’s time to hit The Road, the 2009 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s tragically bleak father-son odyssey to the sea. It’s painfully, beautifully sad, and its lessons are not for the faint of heart: (1) Make sure you get a shopping cart that won’t lock its wheels if it goes beyond the store’s parking lot; (2) The last Coke in the world tastes magnificent; (3) Never, ever use your last round of ammo on anyone but yourself.

Dreary, I know, but the end could be near. So I suggest you hunker down immediately and start taking notes. These films’ combined running time is eight hours and 49 minutes, so if you start now, you should have plenty of time to get through them before Judgment Day. (You might even have time left over to see Prom.)

See you on the other side, my friends.

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