Weekend Rountable: Trapped in a Bunker

It’s the apocalypse outside! Bummer. Much like the characters in this week’s ’10 Cloverfield Lane’, you’re stuck in a survivalist bunker, presumably for years or perhaps even forever. Fortunately, you have solar power electricity, a big TV, and were able to grab three Blu-rays (or DVDs, if you’re desperate enough) off your shelf before you got locked in. What were the discs?

Yes, this is a variation on the old “Desert Island Books” / “Desert Island Discs” question, except that you really wouldn’t be likely to have a TV or electricity on a desert island, would you? Advantage: Bunker!

Two rules:

  1. You must already currently own the discs. Amazon won’t deliver to you during the apocalypse.
  2. No cheating by choosing multi-movie box sets. I will accept a single TV season box set as one title, however. (Not all of our participants paid attention to this rule, unfortunately.)

Mike Attebery

Unfortunately, since two of my favorite movies have yet to receive an HD upgrade, I’d have to choose one Blu-ray and two standard-def DVDs to tide me over for the rest of time. They would be ‘The Fugitive‘, ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’, and of course ‘Wonder Boys’.

Aaron Peck

Groundhog Day‘ – The central idea would be perfect for hiding out in a bunker where seemingly every day is exactly like the day before. Plus, that movie is always funny. Always. I don’t see myself getting sick of it even if I had to watch it over and over and over and over and over again.

The Tree of Life‘ – At least I’d have the rest of my life to figure out all the symbolism in this movie. Also, it’d be a reminder of just how beautiful the world used to be before the apocalypse – a reminder of happier times and a way to remember the world as it once was.

Event Horizon‘ – Finally, I’d pick this outer space horror film for one reason: Things could always be worse.

Brian Hoss

So three movies, and presumably no surround sound? Forget the esoteric, this is about survival. I think ‘Blade Runner‘ would be the first choice, no matter which cut it is. It’s visually dense, entertaining, and substantive on several levels, including is production, editing and home video history.

With fantastic rewatchability in mind, I’ll opt for ‘Conan the Barbarian‘. That first Conan is a very ’80s action fantasy flick, complete with an excellent soundtrack and a wonderfully realized mythical world.

Finally, knowing that I’d need to have a comedy, I think I’d go with ‘The Big Lebowski‘. Not only is it endlessly funny and executed well in every aspect, it’s also a fun trip.

These three movies have already withstood the test of time. I’d enjoy reminiscing about having watched them for decades, which is another crucial factor.

Tom Landy

Hmmm, only three? That’s a very tough choice. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided to take a scientific approach to this. Therefore, I’m going with one absolute personal favorite, one all-time classic, and one ultimate reminder of the way things used to be.

Starting with my personal favorite: ‘Bubba Ho-Tep‘. This horror/comedy from the mind of Joe Lansdale (my favorite author) and starring Bruce Campbell (my favorite actor) is such a great little gem. It’s funny, it’s touching, and it’s downright WEIRD – pitting an elderly Elvis Presley against a mummy, of all things. I know it’s a strange pick, but I can watch this movie over and over and never get sick of it, so it’s something I’d reach for first.

Now on to the classic, I thought about ‘Citizen Kane’ for a moment, but I ultimately had to go with Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai‘. Like ‘Kane’, ‘Seven Samurai’ is a masterful work of art and is considered one of the greatest films ever made. In the end, the choice between them just came down to personal taste.

Finally, what better way to preserve your memories of the world (before the shit hit the fan) than with the BBC’s ‘Planet Earth‘? For me, the groundbreaking documentary series is the only option here, as no other production can cover so much in such amazing detail. It’s definitely something to hold onto, both physically and mentally.

Shannon Nutt

First and foremost, I have to bring along ‘Jaws‘, which I never grow tired of watching. It’s not only my favorite Spielberg film, it’s one of my top-5 all-time favorites. Even though I know most of the dialogue by heart at this point, I still throw it in my player a couple times every year.

Another highly rewatchable title that I couldn’t imagine not having on-hand is Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas‘. It still needs a definitive edition on Blu-ray (I still argue with others about the color timing not being quite right on the latest edition), but I can think of no other film I own that is as well-paced and as much fun to watch. It really is Scorsese’s masterpiece in a career full of really good movies.

I was going to avoid picking any large boxed sets with a ton of content in them (since the easy answer for this question would be to pick Blu-ray sets that had the most hours of material – you know, like that James Bond collection), but then I realized that there’s no way I’m going to be stuck down in a bunker without my ‘Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery‘ collection. Although it’s no longer the entire series (David Lynch and the gang are currently shooting new episodes for Showtime), ‘Twin Peaks’ is far and away my all-time favorite TV show, and it’s another one of those pieces of entertainment I can watch over and over and over again without ever getting bored.

Luke Hickman

My first disc would be ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘. I can’t live without that film. The second is one for which my love is highly scrutinized: ‘Vanilla Sky‘. With those two immersive relationship dramas, I’d be completely satisfied.

The third disc is likely to be a variable title that would change depending on what has been on my mind. At this time, I’d grab ‘Into the Wild‘. Not only is it a well-rounded film, but it features gorgeous views of the world outside that I’d possibly never set my eyes on again and a soundtrack by Eddie Vedder that’s absolutely perfect.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

The first discs I’d grab off the shelf would undoubtedly be ‘Jaws’ and ‘UHF’.

Aside from being far and away my favorite movie, ‘Jaws‘ is compulsively rewatchable. That’s always a plus if life in an underground bunker demands that I watch it over and over and over and over. A couple of feature-length documentaries in the extras would help break up the routine as well. I’m sure my withering mole-man eyes would appreciate the sight of summer on the open sea, even if there is a gigantic shark lurking around.

What’s the point of a solitary, hopelessly isolated existence if I can’t laugh a little? Some kind of comedy would be essential, and I remember vowing in the summer of 1991 that I was going to watch ‘UHF‘ every single day during the months-long break from school. I think I only made it a week and a half, but the apocalypse is as good an excuse as any to give that another shot. That its Blu-ray release is such a loaded special edition sure doesn’t hurt either.

As tempting as it’d be for my third and final selection to be a stone-cold cinematic classic, I think I’d go in a completely different direction. Synapse Films’ ‘42nd Street Forever‘ crams more than eighty cult cinema trailers onto a single disc, spanning everything from blaxploitation to Italian ‘Star Wars’ knockoffs. It’s a grindhouse sampling platter, giving me bite-size tastes of numerous different genres. I can’t think of a better way to maximize variety while sticking to these rules. Then again, if my wife (and/or a Mary Elizabeth Winstead-type refugee) were stuck in the bunker with me, I’d probably pick something a little less gonzo. ‘Casablanca’? Everyone loves ‘Casablanca’.

Josh Zyber

The easy choice here would be for me to pick my favorite movie (‘Dune’), but honestly I’ve watched that film so many times I know it by heart anyway. If we’re talking dire circumstances here, I’m going for variety and some hard choices will need to be made.

I’ll start with ‘Baraka‘ for much the same reason that Tom chose the ‘Planet Earth’ documentary. The film showcases the beauty of the world and its cultures (as they were before the fall) and will serve as a reminder of everything that’s been lost. It also makes great video wallpaper that can be played on a continuous loop when I’m feeling desperately claustrophobic and need the illusion of a window to the outside.

If I’m trapped alone in a confined space for an extended time, no other movie captures the isolation and loneliness of that situation better than Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘. It doesn’t hurt that the film closes with the hope of transcendence and rescue by aliens.

Finally, if I’m going to get through this experience, I’ll need just a little joy. No filmmaker’s works make me as happy as Fellini’s. I’m hard pressed to choose between his masterpieces ‘La dolce vita‘ and ‘8 ½‘. I consider them both to be perfect films. Down to the wire and forced to make a decision, I think I’ll grab ‘La dolce vita’. I could watch that movie countless times without tiring of it.

Now it’s your turn. Which three movies will get you through the apocalypse?


  1. njscorpio

    Unfortunately, I bought LOST as individual seasons….so if I were to maximize the viewing hours by way of a single selection (that would also be enjoyable), it would be my complete BSG box set.

    But, in keeping with the spirit of things…

    (1) Aliens – This is my selection as the one film I have already seen a countless number of times, and I know I could enjoy it for many, many more times. There isn’t a heck of a lot of depth to this film, but it is one hell of a ride.

    (2) Who Am I? (Jackie Chan) – My favorite Jackie Chan film, from my favorite era of his. A great combination of international action, martial arts, stunts, and comedy.

    (3) Primer – I’ll have time (finally) to map out my own breakdown of all the various timelines.

    • NJScorpio

      Since this is HighDefDigest, is (2) disqualified because it is only available on DVD?

      Anyway, I think I’d need to change (3). I see many of us here being sure to include comedies to break things up, but if these are our only formats we are taking with us, I think I’d need to include something that has a lot of great music.

      I have ‘Through The Never’, in 3D, but have yet to watch it (I honestly forgot about it until just now). Being a huge Metallica fan, I think I’d grab that. In fact, I think I’ll go watch that…

      • NJScorpio

        …not that I don’t consider The Blues Brothers to be of musical value…it’s a classic that I own…but that’s more for the comedic value (though I do enjoy the blues).

  2. charles contreras

    This was tough, but I would pick Star Wars Episode IV, The Blues Brothers (for the Chicago in me), and Boogie Nights. I never get tired of those movies.

  3. Csm101

    The Terminator- one of my all time favs. Seen it countless times.
    Nacho Libre- always makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood when I’m feeling down. I’d imagine it would come in handy being trapped in a bunker.
    Hot Fuzz- this has a little bit of everything from different genres and executes all of them very well. Lol comedy, exciting action, and nasty bloody horror.

  4. Bolo

    I’ve got a couple repeats from the editors, both ‘The Big Lebowski’ and ‘Baraka’ for the same reasons the other guys said.

    And I’ll throw in ‘Akira’ as my third choice.

  5. Deaditelord

    1. Raiders of the Lost Ark – This is a tough one since I would want to cheat and bring the original trilogy and my other two choices. However, since I can’t do that I’ll settle for my favorite Indiana Jones adventure.
    2. Vertigo – While Jimmy Stewart and Hitchcock made some great films together, for me Vertigo ranks as their best collaboration. I watch it at least once a year and couldn’t imagine never being able to watch it again. One might say I was obsessed with Vertigo.
    3. Mystery Science Theater 3000: Season 8 – Since the rules say we can pick a single TV season, then I would choose to bring MST3k’s first season on the Sci-fi channel to the bunker. Admittedly some will call blasphemy for my omitting all the Comedy Central episodes. However, I really enjoyed MSt3k’s run on the Sci-fi channel run and season 8 contains a number of classic episodes including Prince of Space (or as I call it “When Chickens Attack!”), Invasion of the Neptune Men, Space Mutiny, Devil Doll, Riding With Death, Time Chasers, and Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (starring the late Raul Julia).

  6. I’m too late to the party to pick many original movies, I see.

    Blues Brothers and Blade Runner are obvious choices. The last one is a toss-up between The Big Lebowski, Office Space and Love Actually. But, if I must choose, I think I’ll go for The Big Lebowski.

  7. itjustWoRX

    – Couldn’t agree more with Aaron’s pick of “The Tree of Life.”

    – “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (favorite movie of all time)

    – “Predator,” because I’ve literally watched it at least once a month since I was four years old and it never gets old (ORIGINAL blu-ray release, not that ultimate wax museum version).

    WILD CARD: Season 1 of “The Leftovers” 😀

  8. William Henley

    The thought of some television seasons sounds attractive – you are talking 6 hours – 20 hours of entertainment right there. If you do an anime, you might be able to claim about 45 shows for a season.

    So, I would love to ask all sorts of questions to try to justify my response. Things such as “will I be able to get other movies after the end of this time, or am I perserving just these three for the rest of time?” Or “are there other survivors?” Or “is the whole Earth going to be destroyed, or will everything be okay in a couple of years (mountains, forrests, etc”).
    “Who am I in the bunker with?”

    You see, having answers like this would help in determining if I should take religious movies, whether I should take nature movies, whether I should take cinema masterpieces, or whether I should take pornos (because if it is just me by myself, and no one else on earth survives, I am going to need something other than just movies to help pass the time, although if it was just me, I would probably just end up going out in the radiation and killing myself, because, seriously, who wants to spend the rest of their life alone?).

    I figure the best way to address this is to assume that I don’t know what’s going on, and thinking that I am only going to be holed up for a few days (although it could turn in to years), and assuming that we don’t know if the whole world is going to be wiped out or not.

    This is tough. I have about 30 minutes to get into the bunker, and am staring at my shelves. Can’t I just grab my Plex media server, it would be so much easier, and have so much more movies and shows on it. No, I am going to stick to the rules – physical disks only. Okay, so let’s pull some discs off the shelves, and narrow it down.

    Ranma 1/2. Sailor Moon. Planet Earth. The Sound of Music. Stargate SG1 season 1. Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. Jurassic Park. Star Wars. blade Runner. The Bible (both the movie and the miniseries). Oh My Goddess. End of Summer. Magical Twilight. Dragon Ball Kai (this way, I can claim several seasons of the original show as a single season of Kai). Yuri Yuri. Kondomo no Jikan, Hilfe Ich Bin Ein Junge. Heidi (probably the Disney Channel one). Various Star Trek TNG seasons. Alps from Above.

    I bite my lip, and think. Like it or not, I have to make a decision.

    So many things I would like to save. I decide to be partially optimistic, and assume that I am going to be by myself for a few years, but after that time, I can come out, and even if all other life is destroyed, I will eventually find structures still standing that have other discs in it, so I just need something to entertain myself for the next few years.

    I am frustrated, but I have made my decision. I choose the following three
    – Jurassic Park
    – Planet Earth
    – Kodomo no Jikan

    I got myself a good movie, memories of what the Earth looks like, and an anime that, while in and of itself is clean, is full enough of innuendos that it can stimulate my imagination.

    Running to the bunker, I am sure hoping that I remembered to put my Kindle in there and a Playstation and some games – as great as these three selections are, I sure hope its not my only entertainment for the next several years!

  9. EM

    This is exactly what I have been doing…well, without the bunker. I collect only “desert island” discs. I’m not building the Video Library of Alexandria…

    But fine, I’ll play by the rules—even though it seems to me that if I have time to grab one movie from a multidisc set, I should have time to grab the whole multidisc set plus at least one additional selection.

    Fortunately, the rules don’t preclude my taking and using my pocket media player and the various memory cards on which I keep mp4s ripped from my video library. I carry the cards and various accessories in my knapsack, and so almost certainly I would have all that with me as I head for the bunker. Mp4s on a pocket-size screen aren’t home-theater quality, but sacrifices must be made in an apocalypse. So, the question really becomes, Which discs do I pick for the big-TV experience?

    Here’s how I’m leaning:
    Sleeping Beauty. This is one of the most gorgeous Blu-rays I have, and the movie is a multifaceted escapist pleasure. Plus it has the “Grand Canyon” supporting feature!
    • A video-wallpaper disc called The Splendor of Color: A Kaleidoscope Video. Also beautiful, this will be great to play as I listen to certain music to chill out (thanks to mp3s on those memory cards).
    • Digital Environments’ Colors of Christmas. Another wallpaper video that will make Christmas more cheery (assuming I form a good idea of when Christmas is). Good also for the Christmas in July I like to do! It has colorful closeups of poinsettias and tree ornaments and such, perfect to run as I listen to Christmas music (I have over 100 hours’ worth on one of those cards…including “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Christmas at Ground Zero”, a welcome addition to a yuletide armageddon!).

    If I didn’t have my mp4s, I’d have to rethink my choices to include at least one movie addressing apocalypse, whether seriously (WarGames, Night of the Living Dead…) or not so seriously (Dr. Strangelove, Matinee…). While some people wouldn’t want the reminder, I think it would help me. In a similar vein, while flying I watch such fare as Airplane! and The Twilight Zone’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” to help me get a handle on my anxiety.

    • William Henley

      Hahaha, yeah, I was thinking of grabbing my external harddrive as well with MP4s. With one grab, I go from 3 discs to like 200 movies and about 30 full television series (including every single season of Doctor Who (although some are reconstructions) – that would be a GREAT way to survive the nuclear hollocaust).

      • EM

        Oh, yeah. My memory cards include my favorite episodes from the first five Star Trek series, The Twilight Zone, The Honeymooners, etc. etc.

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