From surviving natural disasters, nuclear wars, and shipwrecks to sci-fi alien invasions and zombie plagues, survival movies cover a wide range of genres.
Here is our list of the Best Survival Movies ever made.
Wilderness Survival Movies
- 127 Hours – Based on the true story of Aron Ralston whose journey into Utah’s Canyonlands National Park would become one of the most horrific tales of endurance and courage ever told.
- Alive – Based on the real life events of a Uruguayan rugby team that crash landed in the Andes. The story made worldwide headlines when it became known that the survivors resorted to cannibalism to stay alive
- The Snow Walker – Story of a couple who crashes in the Alaskan wilderness hundreds of miles from civilization and has to do what they can to survive.
- The Donner Party – Based on the real life events of a group of pioneers who get stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains and resort to cannibalism to survive.
- Into the Wild – The real life story of Christopher McCandless, a man who shunned society and went off into the wilderness in search of adventure. The movie gives a chilling look into what can go wrong when an unprepared person tries to take on nature.
- Jeremiah Johnson – Robert Redford stars in the adventure Jeremiah Johnson, a movie about a trapper who learns to survive as a mountain man in the wilderness.
- Man in the Wilderness – An abandoned fur trapper fights to survive after being injured and left for dead in the wilderness.
- Robinson Crusoe – Pierce Brosnan stars in the big screen version of Robinson Crusoe, a movie that is very loosely based on the classic novel. Crusoe is the only survivor of a shipwreck and has to survive on a deserted tropical island.
- Seven Alone – The true story of seven children who journey out on the Oregon trail after their parents die.
- The Edge – After crashing in the Wild Alaskan wilderness, two men find themselves teamed up against a giant Kodiak bear in a brutal struggle for survival.
Survival by Sea / Castaway
- Cast Away – One man’s story of survival after crash landing near a deserted island.
- Shackleton – The Greatest Survival Story of All Time – Based on the real life adventure of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s whose 1914 Antarctic expedition turned out to be one of the greatest survival stories of all time.
- Lost – I know it’s a T.V. series, and not technically a movie, but I couldn’t leave it off the list. Uncover the secrets of what caused Oceanic 815 to crash and experience their incredible journey as they battle to survive and rewrite their own fate.
- Lord of the Flies – After their plane crashes into the sea, a group of young military cadets bands to together after becoming marooned on a remote deserted island. They eventually split up into two factions setting off a disturbing battle.
Zombie Apocalypse Movies
- The Omega Man – The Omega Man stars Charlton Heston in the 2nd on-screen adaptation of the classic novel, I am Legend. This movie is a classic end of the world zombie flick.
- Zombieland -Columbus, a panicky college student has managed to survive a zombie virus by creating his rules for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. He teams up with a real zombie killing badass named Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) for what is probably one of the funniest Zombie movies ever made.
- Dawn of the Dead (1974 Edition) – Blood Gore & Zombies.
- Dawn of the Dead (2004 Remake) – More Blood Gore & Zombies.
- I Am Legend This is a remake of the original Richard Matheson classic. Will Smith plays a military scientist who is left alone in Manhattan after trying to discover a cure for a virus that turned everyone into demented zombies.
- The Last Man on Earth Vincent Price stars in the first big screen version of Richard Matheson classic, I am Legend.
- 28 Days Later – A patient awakens from a coma to find a world filled with vicious Zombies.
- 28 Weeks Later – 28 weeks have passed since the first film, 28 day’s later. Just when the virus is thought to be contained, a carrier accidentally spreads the deadly infection and wreaks havoc on everyone.
- Carriers – Four kids try to avoid a deadly pandemic that is attacking humanity.
- Resident Evil – Apocalypse – Zombie thriller based on the popular video game.
- The Book of Eli -This story takes place 30 years after war has destroyed the world, and left it completely unrecognizable. The new world is filled with roaming gangs who have destroyed all the world’s book, in an attempt to control whoever is left. The Book of Eli is the story of one man who is on a mission to revitalize a lost society, in a post-apocalyptic world.
- The Road – The big screen version of Cormac McCarthy’s best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Road. The Road is a dark and disturbing post-apocalyptic story of survival that shows a father and son’s journey across a destroyed America.
- Waterworld– Waterworld is a post-apocalypse future where the world has been covered by water. The story is about a few who cling to the hope of finding dry land to ensure the survival of the human race. It’s basically Mad Max with water.
- The Postman – Set in a post-apocalyptic future, after war has destroyed the government, a wandering loner becomes the symbol of resistance.
- Mad Max -The end of the oil age is here and civilization has started to break down, in the first of the Mad Max series.
- The Road Warrior – In a post-nuclear war world, a loner fights against other survivors in search of gasoline.
- Panic In Year Zero – A family of four leaves Los Angeles for a camping trip just before a nuclear bomb destroys the city. As chaos breaks out, the father must fight to keep his family alive.
- 20 Years After – A Post-Apocalyptic story of a young woman who finds herself on a journey to deliver the first child to be born in over 15 years.
- A Boy & His Dog – A twisted cult classic, set in a Post-Apocalyptic America, which has inspired a number of apocalyptic movies.
- Children of Men – Children of Men is a story where humans have become infertile in a world filled with terror and nuclear fallout. A small group journeys through an urban landscape filled with vicious urban fighting to protect a lone pregnant women and save the human race.
- Reign of Fire – A Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi adventure, where man is driven into hiding when a boy unknowingly releases dragons back into the world.
Invasion / War Survival Movies
- Defiance – Based on the real life story of the Bielski brothers, Defiance tells the tale of a group of brothers who fled in the woods after Nazis killed their parents. They formed a resistance movement and cared for over 1200 people in makeshift villages that they built throughout the forest.
- Red Dawn – The invasion of the United States has begun and eight teens escape into the mountains of Colorado and prepare to wage guerrilla war against the Russians.
- RED DAWN – 2012 Remake where a group of teenagers have to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.
- Heaven Knows Mr. Allison – WWII story of survival featuring a marine who becomes stranded with nun on an island swarming with Japanese soldiers.
- Behind Enemy Lines – A pilot forced to evade and survive behind enemy lines
- Rescue Dawn – The true story of a US fighter pilot who is shot down and captured during the Vietnam War.
End of the World / Armageddon Movies
- When Worlds Collide – 1951 Classic – The Earth is in danger of colliding with a runaway star, as a group of survivalists builds a space ship to start a new civilization
- War of the Worlds – Steven Spielberg directs the 2005 adaptation of H. G. Wells’ classic novel The War of the Worlds.
- The War of the Worlds (1953 Edition) – George Pal, who also produced When Worlds Collide, first brought H.G. Wells classic story of alien invasion to the big screen in 1953. The film is a classic sci-fi movie and won the Academy Award for Best Special Effects in 1953.
- Independence Day – The question of whether we’re alone in the universe is answered as aliens attack the world.
- Cloverfield – Five young New Yorkers document their attempt to survive as a huge creature attacks the city.
- The Day After Tomorrow – Global warming plunges the world into an instant Ice Age that causes super storms, chaos, and death throughout the world.
- Armageddon -A group of oil riggers are sent into space to save the world from a giant meteor.
- 2012 – To be honest I thought this movie kind of sucked, the only reason I put it on the list is because a few readers emailed me telling me how great it was. I did like the crazy survivalist guy though.
- The Core – The U.S. Government discovers that the earth’s core has stalled and the survival of mankind could be at stake.
- Deep Impact – A high school astronomy student discovers a comet that’s headed straight for Earth. The government builds caves to prevent the extinction of mankind and a group of astronauts is sent to destroy the comet with nuclear weapons.
Survival Movies Suitable for Kids
- White Fang – Jack London’s classic tale of a young man trying to carry out his father’s dying wish to find gold in the great Alaskan frontier.
- Davy Crockett – The adventures with Davy Crockett
- Shipwrecked -A Disney Classic that includes a shipwreck, pirates, and a boy who must survive alone on a jungle island.
- Wilderness Family Trilogy– The adventures of a modern family who leaves the big city for a life in the mountains.
- Swiss Family Robinson – Disney’s big screen version of the classic novel, Swiss Family Robinson. Swiss Family Robinson is the story of a family who must build a new life after becoming shipwrecked on a deserted island.
- A Cry in the Wild – Based on Gary Paulsen’s classic wilderness survival novel, “Hatchet” about a 13-year-old boy who has to survive alone in the wilderness.
- Stranded – Another version of the classic novel Swiss Family Robinson.
- Lost in the Barrens – An orphaned teen is sent to live with his Uncle in the wilderness.
- Touching the Void – An amazing story of survival about a mountaineers attempt to survive and return to base camp.
- The Mountain Men – A movie about the life of a couple of fur trappers in the Rockies.
- Alone in the Wilderness – Alone in the Wilderness is probably one of the best wilderness survival documentary’s ever made. The movie shows Richard Louis “Dick” Proenneke, a naturalist and survivalist living alone high in the mountains of Alaska at a place called Twin Lakes.
- Alaska Silence & Solitude – A follow-up to Alone in the Wilderness; filmmakers trek into the remote wilderness of Alaska 25 years after the original classic. The movie shows Dick Proenneke, who has lived the wilderness for over 30 years.
- Nanook of the North – A film that studies Eskimo life including, hunting seal & walrus, building igloos, and a number of other Eskimo survival skills.
- American Experience: Surviving the Dust Bowl – The story of how people survived drought, dust, disease and famine.
- The Great Depression – A historical look at the Great Depression.
- American Experience – Influenza 1918 – A chilling look at the flu pandemic of 1918 that killed an estimated 675,000 people.
- Snowshoes and Solitude: A Year in the Wabakimi Wilderness – Les Stroud and Sue Jamison document their year in the Wabakimi Wilderness, attempting to replicate life in North American 500 years ago.
Native American Survival Movies
- A Man Called Horse – Richard Harris (who also stars in Man in the wilderness) plays an English aristocrat who is captured by Dakota Sioux and eventually adopts their way of life
- Geronimo – An American Legend -The story of Geronimo an Apache leader who fought for decades to preserve his tribe’s way of life.
Misc. Survival Movies
- The Flight of the Phoenix – A military plane crashes in the desert and the survivors must fix it before all the crew members die.
- First Blood – The best of the Rambo series.
- Rambo – The most brutal and realistic of the series, Vietnam Vet John Rambo ends up living in Southeastern Asia near Burma and is forced back into action to save a group of American missionaries. This movie is pure brutality, and is not for those who get squeamish at the site of blood and guts!
- Sunshine – A crew of seven astronauts is sent on a mission to re-ignite the dying sun.
- Open Water – Based on a true story of a couple who is abandoned at sea and must survive in shark infested waters.
- Apocalypto – The story of a Mayan man’s adventure to save his wife and child after a vicious tribe attacks and enslaves everyone in his village.
- The Grapes of Wrath – An American Film Classic, The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of a family who treks across the country to escape the dust bowl in hopes of reaching the promised land of California.
- The Grey – After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survive, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step.