Belief in an apocalypse Those who believe in the “rapture” believe that every born-again Christian will be snatched from Earth and taken to heaven in one fell swoop one day, leaving all nonbelievers to suffer for seven years of “tribulation”—i.e., “trouble”—before the Final Judgment, which occurs after the Rapture.
What would happen if all the people responsible for keeping civilization running smoothly suddenly vanished?
Some of the slim comfort that most horror movies provide is that the audience knows vampires and werewolves don’t exist—in other words, there is an element of imagination involved so that you can leave the movie theater without being afraid.
Even if you don’t believe in the rapture, these movies are like nuclear war pictures in that they don’t deal with fantasy, but rather with an impending disaster that will eventually wipe out all life on the world. When you’re seeing what you believe is a “coming attraction” of a dreadful event that you believe will happen one day, you feel an extra layer of dread.
All but a few of the following movies were produced by evangelical organizations and exhibited only at churches and Christian summer camps. Revelation and a few other passages from the Old and New Testaments serve as their primary source of inspiration.
1. The Rapture (1941)
The earliest rapture-themed film in cinematic history is considered to be this 13-minute short. Carlos Baptista, a Venezuelan-born businessman, owns the Scriptures Visualized Institute, which produced the film. Also, it established the idea of the anarchy that would ensue after Christians were abruptly whisked away from their jobs: “Speding trains will plunge unknowing passengers into a black eternity as Christian engineers are seized.”
2. A Thief in the Night (1972)
Russel Doughton and Donald Thompson’s rapture-movie trilogy began here. (A Distant Thunder (1977), Image of the Beast (1980), and The Prodigal Planet (1981) are the three sequels to this film) (1983).
As the title suggests, the primary character, Patty, is a purportedly Christian housewife who is more preoccupied with her own happiness than with seeking God’s favor. Her spouse, a devout Christian, and millions of others suddenly vanished one day. UNITE—United Nations Imperium of Total Emergency—is a menacing new worldwide government that soon establishes itself and requires that all citizens on Earth receive its mark.
Patty’s refusal to accept the mark results in her being punished. That is, until a radio report comes on the air that confirms what she had just dreamed of is happening in the real world.
3. A Distant Thunder (1977)
After the Rapture, Patty is imprisoned in a concentration camp, but she refuses to be baptized in the blood of the beast. While at the camp, Patty and a female friend she made plan to flee into a “free” world that is plagued by food and gas shortages, as well as widespread violence. For those who were left behind after the Rapture, this film promotes the idea that they may still be able to convert to Christianity and be saved before the Final Judgment.
4. Image of the Beast (1980)
Following The Rapture in 1972, David is a fundamentalist Christian dissenter who helps others escape concentration camps while also trying to hack computers that administer the mark of the beast, which is used to identify individuals. “More clumsy than inspiring, it pushes its limp agenda with all the effectiveness of a shopping cart that’s missing its wheels,” wrote Shock Cinema Magazine in its review of Image of the Beast.
5. Years of the Beast (1981)
Professor Stephen Miles partners up with his wife, a small daughter, and a homeless drifter in this Jack Van Impe Ministries production to live in a harsh world plagued by natural disasters and on the verge of hunger. Each and every person who does not accept the tattoo of the Antichrist is put to death. Stephen Miles, on the other hand, leads his ragtag band into the hills in order to evade detection.
6. The Prodigal Planet (1983)
As the “bowl judgments” of the Book of Revelation are finally poured out on Earth, the seas and rivers turn blood-red, the sun scorches people to death, darkness reigns, lightning, earthquakes, and hundred-pound hailstones fall on Earth, while a group of underground Christian survivors still struggle for hope in the midst of a seemingly harrowing scenario. Russell Doughton and Donald Thompson’s four-part rapture series, which began with 1972’s The Rapture, concludes here.
7. End of the Harvest (1998)
College friends who are Christian decide to dispute a bunch of atheists in their community over rapture biblical prophecy. Just as Scott discovers this revolutionary document written decades ago, things begin to happen. This is the first time Scott has ever heard of this paper, which he believes is proof that the rapture will occur.
8. Apocalypse: Caught in the Eye of the Storm (1998)
Helen and Bronson, two newscasters who have been left behind after the rapture, must cover world events as a global conflict between Israel and an Antichrist figure who controls the EU seizes power in another Jack Van Impe Industries film. “I may have found it—the worst Christian movie ever created,” Film Atheist wrote in a scathing review of the film’s usage of stock material. Incredibly, miraculously terrible is how I would describe it. It’s on a par with the end of the world. You can’t even compare this infant to the depths of Hell.
9. Revelation (1999)
An officer from a Christian rebel group known as The Haters is thrust into a battle against Satan’s Army, which is outnumbered and outgunned at every turn in Apocalypse: Caught in the Eye of the Storm, the sequel to last year’s Caught in the Storm. It’s possible that watching Something Awful may not convert you, but it will make you feel humiliated as hell and like a huge dickweed for ever believing in anything again. “
10. The Moment After (1999)
The rapture will occur in the blink of an eye, as prophesied by Scripture, but the FBI will somehow remain intact despite the ensuing mayhem. They are investigating a mysterious man who they believe is aiding a pro-Christian militia in training that is attempting to depose the Antichrist’s power.
11. Left Behind: The Movie (2000)
Tim LaHaye and Larry Jenkins’ best-selling 1995 Christian novel, Left Behind, stars Kirk Cameron as Cameron “Buck” Williams, a journalist who is left behind on Earth after the rapture. It is revealed that the Antichrist is the UN Secretary General, who will gain global authority by resurrecting the Temple of Israel, when Christ finally adopts him as his disciple.
12. Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (2002)
Left Behind 2: The Second Coming brings back Kirk Cameron as “Buck” Williams, a television reporter who is tasked with telling the truth about UN Secretary General Nicolae Carpathia—whose control of propaganda across the globe leads to his unquestionable worship by the masses—is, in fact, the Antichrist. As a secret society/militia, the Tribulation Force has the mission of converting non-believers to the Christian faith.
13. Gone (2002)
They set out to safeguard a mega-corporation in the Philippines, but their objective was scuppered by the Apocalypse. As the world falls apart around them, the lawyers are forced to go inward and face their fates and the fate of the globe. “I read that Christianbeat magazine nominated this picture for ‘Christian Film of the Year’ in 2002,” wrote the Independent Critic. If this picture is the best the Christian community has to offer, it’s a sad state of affairs for Christ. “This film seems like it was made in a high school film class.”
14. Knowing (2009)
A widowed M.I.T. astrophysicist named John Koestler is able to piece together a string of numbers from a time capsule in order to link past catastrophes with anticipated future disasters—and therefore, hopefully, ward off the apocalypse—in this thriller. Since 1950, the list of numbers has properly forecast 47 calamities, but three are still to come. The bad news is that the next disaster, a solar flare, is slated for the following day.
15. Countdown: Jerusalem (2009)
John Hagee’s best-selling novel, Countdown: Jerusalem (also known as Countdown: Armageddon), features a female TV reporter and a CIA agent who work together to stop a secret satanic sect from causing a World War that would set off the Seven Signs of the Apocalypse, which are a series of catastrophic events. The reporter’s husband and daughter have gone missing in the midst of all the mayhem, and she continues to hunt for them.
16. In the Blink of an Eye (2009)
A strange mashup of Groundhog Day and the Rapture, In the Blink of an Eye tells the story of a man who keeps repeating the same nightmare until he learns that he’s in the tribulation time following the Rapture. Despite the low production values, “this is a movie you can watch with your family and genuinely have substantial problems to address,” Christian Press noted. “
17. Mark (2012)
The “mark of the beast” section of the Book of Revelation’s tribulation end times is the topic of this film. Ex-soldier Chad Turner is the film’s protagonist, who has received the mark in an experimental technique that enables the Antichrist and his henchmen to track someone’s every movement. In order to ensure that no one else receives the mark or is able to extract the unique microchip from his body, Chad makes it his life’s purpose to elude the authorities.
18. Mark 2: Redemption (2013)
As in Mark 1, Chad Turner is still on the run from the police, seeking to keep the prototype human-tracking microchip they’ve placed in him out of the hands of the authorities. Chad seeks God’s help in his noble endeavor to preserve humanity from the mark of the beast amidst the turmoil, disease, and bloodshed of the tribulation.
19. New World Order: The End Has Come (2013)
Demi and Christen are stuck in the New World Order three years after the Rapture, where a group of Christian renegades who refuse to receive the mark of the beast are continually escaping the authorities.. Demi and Christian find themselves helping refugees join their band of renegades as the Antichrist intensifies his persecution of those who refuse to take his mark.
20. This is the End (2013)
After a massive earthquake hits Los Angeles, six celebrities find themselves stranded at the home of James Franco, Emma Watson, and others as themselves. While initially doubtful, the gang eventually understands that they are in the midst of the apocalypse described in the Book of Revelation. They survive and go to heaven, where they are entertained by the Backstreet Boys, who for some reason were not condemned to hell for their music.