51+ Best Survival Movies of All Time – Watch Now! (2022)
When it comes to survival movies, there are a lot of them out there. It can be hard to know which ones are worth watching and which ones aren’t. That’s why we put together this list of the best survival movies of all time.
These movies will not only entertain, but they will also give you great ideas and survival concepts to think about in any situation!
So whether you’re prepping for the zombie apocalypse or want to be better prepared for emergencies, these movies will help get you ready for anything.
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What are the Best Survival Movies of All Time?
1. Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is a survival movie set in a future, dystopian world.
In the movie, a group of teenagers is forced to compete in a deadly game that is televised live for the amusement of the rich and powerful.
The game is called the Hunger Games, and it is a fight to the death.
The movie follows Katniss Evergreen, a young girl from District 12, competing in the games and trying to survive.
The Hunger Games is an excellent survival movie because it highlights individual struggle within the potential future of a runaway system of the haves vs. the have nots.
2. The Martian
If you’re a fan of survival movies, then you’ll love The Martian. This movie is about an American astronaut, Mark Watney, who is stranded on Mars after his crewmates mistakenly believe him to be dead.
Watney has to rely on his mindset and survival skills to make it through the harsh environment of Mars and find a way back home.
The Martian is an excellent survival movie with great acting and an exciting plot. It’s definitely worth watching if you’re looking for some survival inspiration.
Staff review: “This was a really entertaining movie. It won’t help much with your long term prep plan, but it’s definitely prep related. All of the characters show great resiliency, and Matt’s character is next-level resourceful. It’s got a lot of funny parts in there, too.”
3. Cast Away
Cast Away is a survival movie with Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt. The film follows the survival of Chuck, an American stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash.
Tom Hanks does a great job playing the main character, Chuck Noland. Noland has to deal with everything from hunger to the loneliness of social isolation on his uninhabited island while he tries to find his way home again.
4. 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave is a survival movie set in the Antebellum South. The film follows Solomon Northup, a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Solomon has to rely on his intelligence and survival skills to make it through the harsh conditions of slavery and find a way to freedom.
12 Years a Slave is an excellent survival movie because it highlights the strength of human resolve in the face of great adversity.
5. Apollo 13
I enjoyed the movie Apollo 13. It is an exciting and suspenseful movie.
The story follows the real-life events of the Apollo 13 mission, which ended in a near-disaster with the entire nation watching.
Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise are the main characters, and they have to work together to survive in space after an explosion knocks out their ship’s power and oxygen supply.
I thought the acting was great, and the movie’s plot was well executed. If you’re looking for a survival movie based on actual events, I highly recommend Apollo 13.
Staff review: “Just the fact that this is true makes it an amazing survival movie. Talk about the ultimate SHTF situation! Such a riveting sample of ‘Improvise – Adapt – Overcome’!”
Armageddon is one of my favorite survival movies. The plot follows a group of ragtag oil drillers sent into space to save the world from a massive asteroid.
I liked Armageddon because it showed how essential teamwork is in survival situations.
The movie stars Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler as the main characters.
7. The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli is a survival movie starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman and was directed by the Hughes brothers.
It tells the story of Eli (Denzel Washington), who is on a mission to deliver his book to a safe location to protect humankind from evil forces that would abuse their power.
On his journey, he must fight off gangs and other people while working to save the soul of his wasteland world.
Like any SHTF situation, there are few you can trust in this survival movie, and survival depends on your wits and skills alone!
Staff review: “This is one of my favorite apocalypse movies. The action is pretty non-stop, and Denzel never makes a bad movie. There are lots of little survival tips to be gleaned even though the movie itself is based on a fictional future. Bonus points for plot twists.”
8. Jeremiah Johnson
Jeremiah Johnson is a great survival movie. It stars Robert Redford as the title character, Jeremiah Johnson, who is a mountain man in the 1800s.
Johnson spends his days living off the land and hunting game, and he knows how to survive in the wilderness like nobody else.
The movie follows Johnson’s adventures as he hunts down a group of criminals who have been terrorizing the area.
Jeremiah Johnson is an excellent man versus nature survival movie with great acting and an exciting plot. If you’re looking for a survival movie to watch, I highly recommend checking this one out.
Lion follows Saroo, a young man who gets lost on a train in India and ends up thousands of miles away from home.
Saroo is forced to rely on his survival skills to make it through the harsh environment and find his way home.
The acting was great, and I thought the plot was well executed. Go check it out.
10. Eight Below
Eight Below is a survival movie set in the icy tundra of Antarctica. The film follows a group of sled dogs left behind when their human masters have to evacuate the area due to a storm.
The dogs must use their survival skills to make it through the harsh conditions and find their way back home.
I really enjoyed Eight Below. The acting is excellent and is a survival movie worth watching.
11. A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place is a survival movie set in the near future. The movie follows a family who must live in silence to avoid being killed by creatures that hunt by sound.
12. World War Z
World War Z is a fantastic movie! It is an exciting and suspenseful movie.
The movie features Brad Pitt as the world’s last best hope in a race of heroic survival to save the human race.
13. The Revenant
The Revenant is an excellent survival movie. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a real-life frontiersman who was mauled by a bear and left for dead by his companions.
Glass must then use all of his survival skills to make it back to civilization to get revenge on the men who betrayed him.
The Revenant is a well-made survival movie with great acting and a thrilling plot. I recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of survival films that highlight the human spirit.
14. Lone Survivor
Lone Survivor is a survival movie based on the real story of Marcus Luttrell, a Navy SEAL who was the only one to survive a 2005 mission in Afghanistan.
The movie stars Mark Wahlberg as Luttrell. It follows his journey of an elite Navy SEAL becoming stranded in the mountains of Afghanistan and fighting for survival.
Lone Survivor is a heart-wrenching and action-packed movie. It was well-made, suspenseful, and moving.
I recommend Lone Survivor to anyone interested in survival movies.
15. I Am Legend
I Am Legend is a 2007 American post-apocalyptic tale directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Will Smith.
It is the third feature film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel of the same name, following 1964’s The Last Man on Earth and 1971’s The Omega Man.
I Am Legend tells the story of Robert Neville (Will Smith), a scientist who is the last human being on Earth. He spends his days trying to find a cure for the virus and fighting off hordes of infected that live in New York City.
I found I Am Legend to be an excellent survival movie that I can watch repeatedly.
16. Life of Pi
I enjoyed the survival movie Life of Pi.
The story follows a young man, Pi, stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with only a Bengal tiger for company.
Pi has to use all of his survival skills to make it through the ordeal and find his way home.
The acting in this movie was great, and the plot was very exciting. I would definitely recommend watching this survival movie if you’re looking for survival-focused enjoyment and inspiration.
17. First Blood
First Blood is an action-packed survival movie that stars Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a Vietnam war veteran confronted by a less than welcoming town.
When confronted with the hostility of the town, Rambo falls back on his Special Forces training and experience. He knows how to survive in any situation, and he’s not afraid to fight for his life. This makes him a formidable opponent and nightmare for the local police.
Staff review: “Classic lone-wolf survival movie. It’s not exactly filled with tips for the everyday prepper, but it’s one of the best at entertaining by showcasing survival skills in personal combat situations.”
I found the movie Unbroken to be very inspiring. It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who becomes a prisoner of war during World War II.
He is taken to a Japanese POW camp, where he endures torture and other hardships.
However, he maintains his enduring motivation and eventually escapes in the true spirit of survival.
This is a fantastic story of survival and determination, and it is definitely worth watching.
19. Captain Phillips
Captain Phillips stars Tom Hanks as the title character, a cargo ship captain who Somali pirates take hostage.
The movie follows Phillips’ journey from the beginning of the hijacking to his eventual rescue by U.S. Navy SEALs.
20. The Day After Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 American science fiction disaster film co-written, directed, and produced by Roland Emmerich. It stars Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, and Sammy Jackson.
The film depicts the sudden onset of a new Ice Age brought about by global warming. It focuses on a family of four trying to make their way from New York City to the survival shelter in Los Angeles.
Staff review: “This is one of those movies I can watch whenever I see it is on. It holds your attention even when you know what’s going to happen next. The SHTF focus is almost exclusively on cold weather survival, so there may not be too many tips for viewers in Hawaii. They’ll still love the movie though!”
21. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Rise of the Planet of the Apes tells the story of Caesar (Serkis), a chimpanzee who leads an ape uprising against the human race. After being exposed to a serum that improves intelligence, Caesar leads his fellow apes in a revolution against the human race. The film is praised for its strong visual effects and performances from the cast.
22. Into the Wild
Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical survival film adapted by Sean Penn from Jon Krakauer’s 1996 non-fiction book of the same name.
The film stars Emile Hirsch as Christopher McCandless, a recent college graduate who gives up his material possessions to hitchhike to Alaska in search of adventure.
McCandless’s journey is full of danger and excitement, and I found it to be an excellent movie.
Likewise, the movie’s unexpected outcome serves as a warning to all potential survivalists that surviving isn’t easy!
23. The Impossible
The Impossible is a survival movie based on the true-to-life story of a family caught in the devastating tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004.
The movie follows the family as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of the disaster.
I found The Impossible to be an excellent survival movie.
If you’re looking for a well-made and emotionally powerful survival movie, I recommend checking out The Impossible.
Waterworld is an American dystopian science fiction action film directed by Kevin Reynolds and starring Kevin Costner.
The film is set in the year 2500 after the cataclysmic flooding of the Earth has left behind a world mostly covered in water. The plot follows a group of characters who attempt to find dry land.
While the film is praised for its strong visual effects, it was criticized for its convoluted plot and poor acting.
25. The Postman
The Postman is a 1997 American postwar dystopian society science fiction film directed by Kevin Costner. It is based on the 1985 novel of the same name by David Brin.
The film tells the story of a drifter who takes on the persona of a postman to rebuild society in the aftermath of a devastating world war.
26. The Edge
If you’re looking for a survival movie to watch, then I highly recommend The Edge.
It stars Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin as two men stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after their plane crashes.
In their quest to survive, Baldwin and Hopkins not only fight wild animals but also end up fighting one another in a dramatic and ironic turn.
I recommend this as one of the best survival films to watch on movie night.
If you’re a fan of survival movies, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Tremors.
It’s a 1990 American science fiction horror film directed by Ron Underwood and starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, and Reba McEntire.
The movie follows a group of people who are attacked by giant underground worms.
While the acting may not be the best, the movie is still enjoyable to watch and provides some good survival tips.
I recommend Tremors to any survivalist movie fan.
28. Red Dawn (1984)
The original Red Dawn is a classic survival movie about a group of high school students who fight to survive after an invasion of the United States by the Soviet Union.
The Red Dawn all-star cast includes Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, and other future stars.
The acting was great, and the plot was very suspenseful. I found the movie to be very exciting and well-made.
If you’re looking for a good survival movie to watch, I recommend the original Red Dawn.
Staff review: “This movie is definitely in my personal Top 5. Anyone born in the 60’s and 70’s knows this movie. It’s a survival movie classic with an all-star cast.”
29. Doctor Strangelove
Doctor Strangelove is a 1964 black comedy film directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick.
The film stars Peter Sellers and George C. Scott and tells the story of an unhinged United States Air Force general who orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.
I found Doctor Strangelove to be an excellent movie.
30. Escape From New York
If you’re looking for a great, old-school survival movie to watch, then I recommend Escape From New York.
The movie stars Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, a former Special Forces operative sent into the dangerous and lawless city of New York to rescue the President of the United States.
Escape From New York is one of my favorite survival movies.
Staff review: “This is an epic apocalypse movie. Not at all serious and downright funny at times. Good lesson in SHTF group dynamics.”
31. Mad Max: The Road Warrior
If you’re a fan of survival movies, then you’ll love Mad Max: The Road Warrior.
It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where gasoline and water are scarce, and gangs of raiders terrorize the survivors.
The Road Warrior stars Mel Gibson as Mad Max, a lone warrior who seeks to protect the innocent from the brutal gangs that rule the Wasteland.
The movie is highly violent and gritty, but it’s also very exciting and well-made. I highly recommend it to any survival movie aficionado.
32. The Pianist
The Pianist is a survival movie based on the true-to-life story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish-Jewish pianist who survived the Holocaust by hiding in Warsaw during World War II.
The acting in this movie was great, and the plot was very moving. The Pianist is a classic of human survival and perseverance.
It’s based on true events, and it’s very well-acted and moving. If you’re looking for a survival movie to watch, The Pianist is a great choice.
Defiance is a survival movie set in World War II, Nazi-occupied Poland.
It tells the true-to-life story of four Jewish brothers who are forced to hide with other refugees and freedom fighters.
The brothers must use all of their survival skills to make it through the ordeal and find a way to freedom.
Defiance is an excellent survival movie with great acting and an exciting plot. If you’re looking for a survival movie to watch, I highly recommend checking this one out.
Staff review: “I really love survival movies based on true stories, and this one does not disappoint. It’s also in my personal Top 5.”
Papillon is a French survival movie that focuses on a convict serving time on Devil’s Island. The film follows the convict as he struggles to survive in the harsh environment while also escaping. This is a great survival movie for preppers, as it shows how difficult it can be to survive in a hostile and isolated environment.
35. Behind Enemy Lines
Behind Enemy Lines is a survival movie set during the Bosnian War.
The movie follows Navy pilot Chris Burnett, a U.S. pilot shot down over Bosnia and must find a way to survive behind enemy lines.
If you’re looking for a good survival movie to watch, I recommend Behind Enemy Lines.
In the movie Alive, a plane carrying a group of friends, returning from a rugby match, crashes in the harsh Andes Mountains.
The plane passengers must then resort to cannabilism and their survival skills to make it through the harsh conditions of the Andes Mountains.
The actual events of Alive make it an excellent movie for every survival-minded person.
Would you do what it takes to survive? Watch Alive and find out!
37. Rabbit-Proof Fence
Rabbit-Proof Fence is the epic escape story of three aboriginal girls who escape from a government-run boarding school in 1931 and make a 1500-mile journey home.
The film follows their incredible journey as they try to evade capture by the authorities and find their way back to their families.
This is an excellent survival movie to watch for anyone interested in survival skills and human perseverance.
38. Touching the Void
Touching the Void is a survival movie based on the true-to-life story of two mountain climbers named Joe Simpson and Simon Yates.
The movie follows the two climbers attempting to scale the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes.
The climb is treacherous, and things go wrong when Simpson falls and breaks his leg.
Yates faces a difficult decision. Does he leave Simpson behind to save himself or risk both their lives to bring him back down the mountain?
Touching the Void is based on true events, is well-made, very suspenseful, and worth watching.
39. The Way Back
The Way Back is a survival movie based on a group of prisoners who escaped from a Siberian gulag in 1940.
The Way Back is an excellent survival movie. It tells the story of a group of prisoners who flee captivity only to endure an epic journey across thousands of miles to freedom.
If you’re planning on bugging out when the world turns south, this is the movie you must watch.
40. San Andreas
San Andreas is a survival movie set in the aftermath of a massive earthquake that destroys California.
The movie follows Ray Gaines, a Los Angeles Fire Department pilot, attempting to rescue his daughter and wife from the disaster.
San Andreas is a fun survival movie. It has action, suspense, and drama. If you’re looking for a good survival movie to shake you up, watch San Andreas.
Room is an excellent survival movie. The story follows a young woman who has been held captive in a small room for seven years.
When she is finally freed, she must adapt to the outside world and learn how to live again.
This is an excellent survival movie because it shows the resilience of the human spirit. It is a powerful story of hope and courage in the face of adversity.
42. War of the Worlds (2005)
The movie War of the Worlds is about a family escaping from an alien invasion. The family has to survive in a hostile world where everything is against them. The acting is solid, and the story is intense. The ending is very satisfying. If you’re looking for a great survival movie, War of the Worlds is definitely worth watching.
In the movie 2012, the world is on the brink of extinction due to a cataclysmic event that will end all life on Earth.
Jack Hall, a scientist, tries to warn the government about the impending disaster, but they don’t believe him.
Hall and a small group of survivors must fight to stay alive in the face of overwhelming odds.
2012 is an excellent survival movie. It has high-quality acting, intense action, and a satisfying ending. If you’re looking for a great survival movie to watch, 2012 is worthwhile.
44. Mad Max: Fury Road
The world is a wasteland in the movie Mad Max: Fury Road. The only way to survive is to be part of a gang—the gangs battle for control of the few left resources.
The movie follows Max, a lone warrior, attempting to cross the desert and reach the fabled “green place.” Along the way, he meets Furiosa, a woman who is trying to escape from the gang that controls her life.
Mad Max: Fury Road is an excellent survival movie. It features intense action, solid acting, and an entertaining post-apocalyptic world.
45. Deep Impact
Deep Impact is an excellent survival movie. The story follows Spurgeon Tanner (Robert Duvall), a retired astronaut thrust back into service on a mission to save the planet. The mission is successful but at a high cost. This is an excellent survival movie because it shows the courage and determination of humans in the face of impending disaster.
46. Reign of Fire
The movie Reign of Fire is about a group of survivors trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland dominated by dragons.
The movie is exciting and well-made. If you’re looking for a firey survival movie to watch, Reign of Fire will provide a few hours of entertainment.
47. 127 Hours
127 Hours is a survival movie based on the true story of Aron Ralston, a hiker who becomes trapped by a boulder and has to amputate his arm to escape.
The movie was very well-made and suspenseful.
127 Hours provides an excellent opportunity to put yourself in the place of a true survivor.
Kon-Tiki is a survival movie based on the true-life story of Thor Heyerdahl, who sailed from South America to Polynesia on a raft made from balsa wood.
The movie follows Heyerdahl’s journey and shows the challenges he faced along the way.
Kon-Tiki is an excellent survival movie because it is based on true events of survival against all odds.
49. The Andromeda Strain
The Andromeda Strain is a survival movie based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton.
The movie is about a team of scientists investigating a deadly virus that has been released in a small town. The virus is spreading rapidly, and the scientists must find a way to stop it.
If you’re looking for a great survival movie to watch, The Andromeda Strain is worth checking out.
50. No Escape
In the movie No Escape, a father and his family live in a country in the midst of a civil war. The government has fallen, and the military is taking control of the country. The family tries to escape, but they are captured and taken to a prison camp.
The movie follows the family as they try to escape from the prison camp and find their way to safety.
No Escape is an excellent survival movie worthy of your time.
51. Sum of All Fears
The movie Sum of All Fears is about terrorists who detonate a nuclear bomb in the United States. The president is killed, and the country plunges into chaos.
The movie follows Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst, as he tries to find the terrorists and stop them from detonating another bomb.
Sum of All Fears is an excellent survival movie. It features high-quality acting, intense action, and a great ending.
52. Omega Man
In the movie The Omega Man, a scientist named Neville (Charlton Heston) is the last man on Earth. The world has been ravaged by a virus that has turned most of the population into vampires. Neville is fighting to survive and find a cure for the virus.
53. The 33
The 33 is a survival movie based on the true story of the Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days.
The movie tells the story of the miners’ struggle and their eventual rescue.
The 33 is an excellent elemental human survival movie.
Everest is an excellent survival movie. The story follows a group of climbers attempting to summit Mount Everest.
The movie is well-made and suspenseful, and it provides a realistic portrayal of the challenges climbers face on Everest.
If you’re looking for a good survival movie to watch, Everest is definitely one dramatic documentary worth watching.
55. Escape from L.A.
Escape from L.A. is a survival movie classic! Kurt Russel as Snake Plissken, a lone man fights to recover a doomsday device from Los Angeles, an autonomous island full of violent criminals.
With failure almost a virtual certainty for Plissken, this movie will excite and entertain. Watch it today.
56. Planet of the Apes (1968)
The original 1968 version of the Planet of the Apes, featuring Charlton Heston, is one survival movie worth checking out.
This survival movie follows a group of astronauts traveling in time to an earth that intelligent apes now rule.
Take a trip back in time and watch one of the original survival movies, Planet of the Apes, tonight!
57. North Face
North Face is an excellent survival movie. It tells the true story of two climbers who attempted to summit the north face of the Eiger.
The movie is well-made and suspenseful, and it provides a realistic portrayal of the challenges faced by climbers on the Eiger in the 1930s.
North Face is an excellent choice for any survival movie fan.
Best Survival Films Selection Criteria
I chose these movies based upon two criteria:
- The movie has over 500 ratings and reviews on Amazon.
- The film has an overall Amazon rating of four (4.0) or better.
Note: I decided tied rankings by the movie with the most ratings and reviews.
The Bottom Line of Survival Movies
And there you have it, our list of the best survival movies of all time.
My favorite survival movie, which I love to recommend, is Red Dawn (1984). Then again, maybe I’m an old-school prepper who loves many other survival films too.
Are there any survival movies that we missed? Tell us in the comments below.
While not a stand alone movie, I find two TV series very educational. The first is called “How the West was Won”, starring James Arness & Bruce Boxleitner. It ran for 3 seasons, was based on the Louis L’Amour book of the same name & followed the adventures of the McCain family.
The second TV series is called “Hawkeye”, stars Linda Carter (of “Wonderwoman” fame) & shows life on a British outpost in New England prior to the American Revolutionary War. This series is based on James Fenimore Cooper’s novels of that era.
Both of these series show how people survived in their respective times, showed skills which were necessary for their survival, as well as interactions with other cultures. Both are available as dvds online.
The movie to watch before SHTF?
Panic In Year Zero, directed by and starring Ray Milland.
The family man does what he must do after the big bombs hits the major cities. Plain, realistic survival without flashy f/x and crazed characters.
Add The Death of Grass/No Blade of Grass too.
Uprising. Watch it on Youtube. Based on a true story of Jews who resisted the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto. Some survived. All were brave and resourceful.
The Inferno. 1953. Robert Ryan and Rhonda Fleming. Wife and boyfriend leave wealthy husband in the desert to die. He has some water, a revolver, and other sparse supplies. Oh, yes, and a broken leg. His will to live based on revenge. Problem solving skills and a cool head keep him moving. Great film noir.
The Naked Prey (1965) is also a classic survival movie. Set in the South African veldt, the film’s plot centers around a safari guide trying to survive in the veldt’s harsh environment, while trying to avoid death at the hands of vengeful African warriors.