The future is a seemingly never ending goldmine for screenwriters to plumb ideas from. Optimists always see future Earth being a utopia, driven by handsome knowledge seeking Übermensch, whereas the pessimists see it as a constant battle of shit situation versus even shitter situation. But really…Who knows what’s going to happen in the next few years, the next few months, even? No one could predict half of the crazy stuff that’s happened this century, let alone half of the unpredictability of the human race displayed in the 20th century. But one thing’s for sure, if Microsoft could see into the future – they definitely would  have left skype on the shelf. Here’s 9 alternative timelines that could befall us as a race at any minute.

#9: Soylent Green (1973)

Mr. Plough's alternative business was booming

It’s a shame that shows like the Simpsons completely ruined the ending of Soylent Green – but it did, for better or ill, and not only is this the first Charlton Heston film on the list, it is also the 1st (of two) whose ending is known the world over by people who haven’t even seen the film. In Soylent Green, Earth’s population has hit a crisis point – there is not enough food to feed over 40 million starving people in New York City alone. Heston’s character Thorn uncovers a bizarre and grotesque secret about the brilliant new food source that seemingly comes from nowhere – it is made of human beings – a revelation that makes the above scene seem oddly reminiscent of the terror animals must feel upon their eventual harvesting. Cue gagging and disgust at meat for a few weeks afterwards.

#8: Battle Royale (2000)

Snazzy uniforms aside - Geography has always elicited such violent reactions.

Battle Royale shows a future where government officials stand up to cocky little kids who try to bully adults. This is a great future for anyone over the age of 18, and as a year 9 class of 42 students is pitted against eachother on a lonely deserted island, they are forced to stare the horrific realisation in the face – kill or you will be killed. The film shows a few sad relationships – of boyfriend and girlfriend, best friends and even enemies truly realising that only one of them survive. Worth noting is the fact that the teenagers are the same age as Alex DeLarge in ‘A Clockwork Orange’, in a way Battle Royale can serve as an alternative timeline from Kubrick’s – a government who has had enough of teenager’s running society, a truly terrifying vision for those having to accept a law they have no power voting against.

#7: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Just Mel showing up to set on the first day with a sawn off. Standard.

In Mad Max, we are never told the reason for the economic meltdown that has befallen the world – though by it’s status as an absolute necessity and social commodity – we can safely assume it has something to do with petrol. In an Australia that to be fair doesn’t look hugely different to pre-apocalypse Australia, Max is a police officer charged with reducing the number of road accidents and raiders who cause them. Everyone flies around like absolute nutters in super-charged muscle cars, shooting at eachother and robbing the corpses. As previously stated, a bit like Australia now. But in all seriousness, Max seems at times powerless to stop a rising force of leather clad uber-mensch who hunger for petrol, a terrifying and oddly homoerotic vision of the future.

#6: Planet of the Apes (1968)

Charlton Heston (topless) pictured achieving man's raison d'etre: CONSENSUAL MONKEY LUVIN'

As previously stated – everyone knows the twist ending. The ‘Planet’ that Charlton and his astronauts return to in question is Earth! Oh no! Some funny apes are running around like they own the place, best show them a lesson eh Charlton?! Well no, not really. The apes have risen in place of where man fell, and they’re doing a pretty OK job of it – certain species run certain factions (Gorillas are the mercs, Chimps are scientists and Orang-Utan’s are the religious elders), in an obviously very efficient system – there is no real complaints from any party. When a primitive man like Charlton Heston returns to ‘his’ home, he obviously believes it’s his entitlement. Well, how is it? Man obviously destroyed himself and the apes picked up what was left and ran with it. A shattering realisation for any human, that one day we won’t be the top dog anymore, and our own environment will reject us.

#5: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A not at all ominous scene from an otherwise positive movie going experience

A Clockwork Orange would be a hefty enough watch were it not for the fact that our main characters are teenage rapists, murderers, and classical music fans. In a future where society is not short on technological advances and cultural exposure but completely lacking in anything close to moral fibre, teenage runaways are allowed to form gangs and commit acts of atrocious brutality. In 1971 it was shocking, but now it seems more realistic than ever with tales of knife and gun related crime amongst teenagers rife in the news.

#4: Delicatessen (1991)

As we all know, 'Delicacy' - means 'your head, on a plate', in French.

After an unknown event wiped out all semblance of civilisation, a Fallout 3 ‘wasteland’ style environment reigns supreme in Delicatessen. The lucky tenants of a high rise apartment building are catered for by the criminally insane cannibal butcher, who occasionally prepares treats for them. Treats which always coincide with the death of a tenant. Another film that forces us to look at the likelihood of cannibalism in a world where livestock don’t exist to cater for us. The ‘good’ characters in the film are vegetarians, ones who exist on lentils and grain. The terror of living in fear of being killed to be consumed, mixed with the actual terror of eating your own grandmother is not a pretty vision.

#3: 12 Monkeys (1995)

Pitt's got balls for fuckin' with Brucie

The film starts with civilisation as we know it ending. Then cuts to the ‘new’ civilisation living underground like rats. In this civilisation, government officials try weird and often inhumane methods of torture on individuals to see if they could potentially be capable of time travel. Bruce Willis finds out he is OK for this, and proceeds to go back in time, to when he was alive and actually about 5 (uh oh! shit..paradox, etc) to find a link between the virus that destroyed humanity and a symbol that has been spotted around Earth. Upon seeing the beauty of pre-apocalypse Earth, he decides to stay and become a martyr, eventually becoming the man he saw get killed as a child. Again, Uh-oh!.

#2: Wall-E (2008)

Now Playing: Kraftwerk - Computer Love

Anyone who’s seen Wall-E will testify to it’s glorious environmental message and happy ending, but I’m not so sure it has a truly positive ending. The last vestiges of humanity return to an Earth that has been cleaned up for them by the lonely Wall-E robot, who stacks blocks of crap as high as skyscrapers and makes entire mega cities full of dirty nappies and broken toys. The Earth they return to though is still full to the brim with the legacy of industry, although plants are beginning to grow again. An upbeat message it may be, but the ending is definitely questionable – live in space as slaves to machines and technology, or return to the damaged Earth that spawned them?

#1: Terminator (1984)

Ahead of the times in both fashion and firearms. Nice!

The ultimate in ‘shitty futures’, Terminator opens with a big hill of human skulls being crushed by a massive metal machine. Is there more of a shit-filled sponge cake than that? Refugees from the future constantly arriving in the past to tell everyone how shitty everything’s going to be in the future. And yes, it is shitty. A constant war between man and machine wages day and night, with the machines blatantly winning, constantly coming up with more and more believable and  indestructible androids to torment the last remaining humans who live like rats in crumbled underground buildings. If ever there was a reason to abandon technology while we have the upper hand – Terminator is it.

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