The car chase has been a staple of the action movie for decades. Before over-the-top effects were achieved with CGI, the chase was used to “stun” movie fans with loud engines, deadly crashes, explosions and driving maneuvers that we thought we could all imitate in our 1990 Ford Escort car. Movies like Vanishing Point, Bullit and the original Gone in 60 Seconds revolutionized the use of fast muscle cars in big action scenes, while Mad Max and its sequel brought the concept of post-apocalyptic combat vehicles into those scenes.
When it comes to post-apocalyptic movies specifically, there are a few notable chase sequences that come close to those of the best blockbuster action movies. I’ve put together this list to honor those movies that had the most memorable impact on me as a child and adult.
So here’s my list of the top 10 best chase scenes in post-apocalyptic movies.
Death Race 2000 (1975)
This dystopian cult classic has several epic car scenes, but my favorite was always the bull car chasing the matador. It’s goofy but also macabre. Ah, the 70s.
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
By the third Mad Max movie, the best parts of George Miller’s chase ideas were over, but this is still a beautiful scene. It gets a little crazy with the crazy sound effects and attempts at physical comedy, but it’s still one of the best in my book.
Judgment Day (2008)
While this may be the only post-apocalyptic car chase movie featuring British cars decked out in animal hide and scrap, I’d like to celebrate that fact by saying that this scene is damn brilliant. It may also be the only one with a modern luxury car in a chase with unfolded wasteland installations.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
This scene where the crane truck is chasing Arnold on a police bike and the crane is off and it knocks over every pole and parked car along the road and then Arnold hangs from the crane and kicks down an ambulance and…ww… this one is intense . Yes, this scene (and the one for T2) doesn’t technically take place DURING an apocalypse, but the Terminator movies are post-apocalyptic.
Crazy Max (1979)
There’s no denying that while this car chase scene doesn’t have much of the same level of action as others on this list, it does have some of the most memorable moments and quotes. I mean, how many times have we all yelled, “I’m the Nightrider!” run out the window while running in front of the police at 100mph on the highway? No? Only me?
Terminator 2: Day of Judgment (1991)
This James Cameron classic features one of the most memorable Terminators in the franchise with Robert Patrick’s T-1000, but it’s the dirt bike chase through the San Fernando Valley flood channels that made it so awesome. I think we all remember that black Freightliner jumping over the bridge railing to land in those canals.
Death Race 2008 (2008)
Remember when Jason Statham was in everything? This “remake” of the classic 1975 film hardly resembles the original, but the vehicles are absolutely top notch. When the Dreadnought semi-truck was released on Statham and its fellow opponents, the result was pure entertainment. Watching this movie is like watching a Crossout tournament.
While Duel isn’t technically post-apocalyptic, it still has the look and feel. Filmed in the deserts of Southern California and featuring a huge Peterbilt 281 tanker that looked straight out of Mad Max, Duel is a cult classic that started its life as a made-for-TV movie directed by Steven Spielberg.
Mad Max: Rage Road (2015)
This whole movie is one big chase scene, but the part with the Rock Riders is my favorite. Besides the fact that the Rock Riders aesthetic is totally bad, harassing a huge tanker truck of dirt bikes seems so much fun. I mean, in the apocalypse.
Mad Max: The Road Warrior (1981)
The classic sequel to Mad Max featured the best post-apocalyptic chase scene yet in my opinion. Sure, the scene has some intense wrecks, fights, and death, but it also has some pretty remarkable drama thrown into all that chaos.
So which ones were your favourite? Do you agree with this list or do you have some more scenes to add? Let us know in the comments!