10 subversive, dark American futures to stream on July 4th

Around July 4, American television stations are filled with patriotic content. That takes many different forms, which this year range from FX & # 39; s Captain America marathon films to TCM classics such as 1776 and Elia Kazan America, America ] The filmmakers have celebrated the United States through the escapist action (19459003) Independence Day sad patriotic drama ( Red Dawn ), sentimental uprising ( Mr. Smith goes to Washington ), and the personal stories of confrontation ( Born on July 4 ), among many other methods. The freedom of artists to find and express their own version of the country is part of what makes it great.

But it can be just as patriotic to have a more subversive look at the United States, to examine the defects of its institutions and attitudes, to evaluate its problems and to consider where they might lead. That's a common tactic for science fiction, especially satires and dystopia stories, which mock the less desirable elements of the United States and challenge people to improve. Here are 10 films that consider possible dark futures for the United States, considering who we are as a nation and asking ourselves what current attitudes and behaviors could lead us to later. All are available for rent online at this time.

A boy and his dog

L.Q. Jones' adaptation in 1975 of a post-apocalyptic story of the late Harlan Ellison has a misogynist streak and a separate misanthropic streak, but it is certainly a different kind of seeing the apocalypse of the majority. After World War II, a scavenger (Don Johnson) travels the moor with his telepathic dog (voiced by Tim McIntire), dodging androids and mutants, until he is trapped in a community built under the ruins of Topeka, Kansas. Ellison and Jones use that city "Downunder" to make fun of the worst nostalgic and auto mythological impulses of the United States: it is a world of the forced coldness of the 50s, where residents wear a horrible white face, dress as farmers or owners of cabins and try to create a fantasy of the coexistence of the Midwest, with the inevitable hilariously ugly dark vein that hides underneath. The final line won Ellison much criticism over the years, but the film is a memorable look at the difference between real freedom and a rigidly artificial society that defines freedom as "adjusting and following orders."

Where to transmit it: It's free on Amazon Prime, or it's profitable from iTunes.


Mike Judge's somber satire of 2006 takes a couple of ordinary people from the present (Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph) 500 years into the future, where they learn that natural selection has resulted in a brutalization of epic level of America. There is a plot, but above all, it is an opportunity for the man behind Beavis and Butt-head and Silicon Valley to break cynical, desperate and routinely funny jokes about the United States each more aggressive commercialism, rudeness and self-absorption. Humor is crude, but it is also the best type of satire, of the kind that is instantly recognizable (especially insofar as family companies will attract their easily targeted clients) and bold enough to surprise.

Where to transmit it: It is available for rent online in the usual payment services: Amazon, iTunes, Fandango, YouTube, etc.


In 1987, director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner released a burst of black comedy shotgun, social satire and numbing violence with RoboCop . In the near future, the city of Detroit is approaching collapse, and a sinister megacorp called Omni Consumer Products privatizes the police force to clean the streets. When a drug gang kills a police officer named Murphy (Peter Weller), OCP uses it as a guinea pig for his new weapons initiative: a human-machine hybrid called RoboCop. The first cuts of Verhoeven's film were so violent that he won an "X" rating, but what he really does RoboCop memorable is the way he sends ruthlessly the corporate culture of the 80s, materialism obsessive of the decade and the way the larger population agrees with everything, happily watching TV shows with amazing phrases ("I would buy it for a dollar!") and playing family board games based on nuclear armageddon. The original RoboCop is a mocking accusation of the era that spawned it, but despite all its excesses of the 1980s, it also feels eerily current.

Where to play it: Verhoeven RoboCop is available to buy and rent from iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Video, but be sure to select the 1987 film. The restart of 2014 is significantly less interesting.

The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year

The original movie of 2013 The Purge is a clumsy social satire about comfortably, a wealthy white family who embrace completely to The Purge, the only mandatory night in the United States where all crime is legal, as long as their money isolates them from facing any danger themselves. But when the invaders turn to them and experience the same risks as poor people of color, they panic and make a series of terrible and revealing decisions. The aftermath is equally unsubtle about the antipathy and hypocrisy of the United States towards the poorest and most working poor people, but rightly they change the focus towards the people most attacked by the racist and classist American political decisions, and they change the genre of the thriller of invasion to the house. to the joint action. More importantly, they focus on the sympathetic characters who try to survive, rather than the unsympathetic ones that the audience should hate. Anarchy opens the world and solidifies the political metaphor, while a handful of victims try to survive on the street, while discovering that the American leaders behind The Purge have put on a brilliant public relations glow of freedom and patriotism a policy that is actually designed specifically as a cover for genocide. But Electoral Year is a more coherent thriller that echoes classic neo-exploitation films like Escape from New York as an anti-Purge politician attempts to survive an assassination attempt. These are not necessarily intelligent and sophisticated films, but they are satisfying, cathartic accounts of good versus evil, with many intense emotions, and their cynicism about the government's double language seems eerily appropriate.

Where to play it: Cost-effective through a variety of streaming services.

Escape From New York

Talking about the grandfather of Purge films … John Carpenter's thriller about the distant future of 1997 hits some of the same notes as movies ] Purge but it's surprisingly poignant about his heartless hero (Kurt Russell), who does not really want to save the day. In a future plagued with crimes where Manhattan has been set aside as a lawless prison, and criminals are thrown inland to roam freely and die, Russell's Special Forces veteran character, Snake Plissken, is caught trying to steal the Federal Reserve. The captors of his government put bombs in his throat and give him 24 hours to enter New York and rescue the president of the United States, who crashed there after a terrorist attack on Air Force One. Like the movies Purge Escape From New York is openly sincere about distrusting the motives of career politicians and criticizing the United States' willingness to demonize and discard the at-risk segments of its population. Carpenter tries to find humanity in some of the imprisoned New York, but also converts Escape From New York into an exciting adventure film, and also an ironic one.

Where to play it: You are currently on Filmstruck, or it is available for rent on Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Video, etc.

Demolition Man

A dystopian action film starring Sylvester Stallone and a Futurist Taco Bell may not seem like the most subversive movie on the planet, but Marco Brambilla Demolition Man (1993) is more smart what it looks like In 2032, society has reached a state of pacifist utopia. The crime is absolutely unheard of, so when a violent criminal named Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) escapes after being pulled out of cryogenic stasis, the authorities have no idea what to do. The solution: to thaw the man who originally captured Phoenix more than 30 years ago: Sergeant John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone). Brambilla's film has a lot of fun playing with fish tropes out of the water: Spartan can not understand the toilet paper version of the future, or deal with the ubiquitous machines that fine him for profanity. And Demolition Man plays repeatedly with the idea that an idyllic society would be implacably boring. (The only restaurant of the future is Taco Bell.) It's hard not to see a bit of contempt in the movie's belief that it takes aggressive and revolutionary people like Stallone to really take to take care of the world's problems , but that attitude is attenuated by the performances of Denis Leary (as leader of the resistance of smoking a mile and a half, chain smoker) and Sandra Bullock, who makes her way in the comedies that would later turn her into a movie star In all rules.

Where to reproduce it: The usual digital platforms.

The Running Man

This 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger film is based on a much darker novel by Stephen King, initially published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. The film version seemed huge and comical in its time, but now feels too close to reality to feel comfortable: it's 2019, and the United States has become a totalitarian police state, complete with manipulated news broadcasts and forced labor camps. . The masses remain docile for endless play shows, but none is more famous than The Running Man that confronts convicted criminals against experienced killers, with a pardon waiting for the victims to survive. Schwarzenegger plays Ben Richards, an innocent man linked to the game, and his inevitable and rigid performance and ridiculous games of a single line ensure that the film is complete and complete. It seems cheap, the laughter is worth moaning, and Schwarzenegger seems to be playing a parody version of himself. But that's part of the fun, and if you embrace the dark perspective of the movie on reality shows, and the chewing-the-scenes action of Family Feud introduces Richard Dawson, then The Running Man ] becomes the cynical vision of American life that 2018 was won.

Where to transmit it: Hulu for subscribers, or rental of various digital services.

Minority Report

In 2002, Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise were neo-noir with this science fiction action film adapted from a short story by Philip K. Dick. It is 2054, and the crime has been virtually eliminated thanks to a system that is able to detect crimes before happen. PreCrime boss John Anderton (Tom Cruise) arrests individuals who theoretically commit crimes in the future, and they all live happily ever after. That is, until the system predicts that Anderton himself will kill someone in the next 36 hours, and then leaves in a race to prove his future innocence. Thematically, Minority Report is interested in the issues of free will and determinism, but may be better remembered for its mysteriously prophetic interpretations of technology and publicity. Transparent screens and gesture-based controls of the film became the abbreviation of what everyone assumed the future of interface design would be (even if they turned out not to be solid ideas). The cinematic vision of American advertising, in which the retinas are scanned while walking through the real world so that personalized advertisements can be offered wherever and whenever they want, is a satirical paranoid vision that seems very likely to become part of advertising. The real world. But the police version of the film seems even more relevant to modern America. Seers are fictitious, but the "you do not need intimacy unless you're hiding something criminal" attitude that the police show during the searches certainly is not. Neither is the heavily militarized police force, or the technological idea of ​​the predictive police based on faulty technology.

Where to transmit it: Available to rent on digital platforms such as iTunes, Amazon Video and Google Play, where & # 39; you are probably accumulating giant data profiles about yourself that will allow you to better serve future dystopian movies just when you least expect it.

Dawn of the Dead

For now, horror fans are quite used to the idea that zombies are a multipurpose political metaphor, but when George A. Romero pioneered the American zombie genre, he was a new and bold terrain. The racial background in 1968 Night of the Living Dead becomes evident by the depressing ending, and the grim satire of American values ​​in the sequel to 1978 Dawn of the Dead are even more obvious. In this entry of Romero's zombie series, a group of survivors hides in a suburban megacenter, entrenching the entrances and creating a paradise for the consumer where they can try on hats and compare televisions to the contents of their hearts. They have everything they need, except basic freedom, especially from other consumers, who come to loot the mall and trigger a shootout. "This is not the Republicans against the Democrats," a scientist tries to explain in a speech. "This is more crucial than that, this is up to the line, folks, this is up to the line, there can not be more divisions among the living!" But Romero's point here is that the living can not ] stop fighting among them, even between resources and endless opportunities. Naturally, the results of the disaster.

Romero's humor is as broad as his political commentary. Zombies roaming the mall, climbing escalators and stumbling into stores, are an early version of Shaun of the Dead gag about how difficult it is to tell normal people, hypnotized routinely , of the zombies. (One protagonist suggests that zombies are attracted to the mall instinctively: "This was an important place in their lives"). And when a looter becomes so enthusiastic about the mall's blood pressure testing machine that he stops to control his health in the middle of a fight, Romero seems to be laughing at how easy Americans get obsessed with new devices, and lose of sight everything else. Dawn of the Dead is a surprisingly bloody movie, and laughs outright at the American media for being out of touch and inaccurate, and in the capitalist culture as unmoved and pointless. But at least Romero is openly enjoying his scenario of the end of the world.

Where to transmit it: It is surprisingly difficult to find the 1978 original in any legitimate format, although Zack Snyder "re-imagines" it in 2004 is widely available. Fortunately, as with so many abandoned and sold out movies, a handful of people have uploaded everything to YouTube.

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