End Times/Good Times

Today, “I am Legend” opens in theaters and “The Mist” is still lingering. I’m hoping to see both this weekend.

Next month, “End Days” opens at the Phoenix Theatre, and Spotlight Theatre will stage the apocalyptic “Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar and Grill” in February.

Meanwhile Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” was one of the most talked about books of the year (helped, of course, by an Oprah boost).

It seems like I’m not the only person with a fascination for end-of-the-world fiction.

From higher-minded fare like “On the Beach” to the blistering satire of “Dr. Strangelove” to the cheesy angst of “The Omega Man.” such stories have intrigued me since I was a kid. Images such as Burgess Meredith breaking his glasses at the end of that classic “Twilight Zone” episode and Harry Belafonte, Mel Ferrer and the last woman on earth walking off together at the end of “The World, The Flesh and the Devil” are iconic for me. In college, I wrote a paper on the subject and organized a massive viewing gathering for the controversial TV epic “The Day After.” The only novel I’ve been able to lose myself in recently was “The Road.”

I haven’t sampled the “Left Behind” books, but the popularity of that rapture series is just one more indication that contemplating our last chapter can be big business.

So what is it all about?

Can any psychologists, sociologists, or person-with-an-opinion enlighten me as to why these sorts of stories grab me—and maybe you?

And do you have any favorite end-of-the-world movies, books, etc. that you’d care to tout?

(If you are thinking about posting, do it now. Who knows if we’ll survive the weekend or not.)

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