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Crapsack World: Film
"What kind of shithole planet is this?!"
Tom Servo on seeing Metaluna in This Island Earth, Mystery Science Theater 3000

  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: The nameless European city where the film begins is exactly this, being constantly bombarded by the Turkish army. The titular hero blames science and the age of reason for the world's ills. This is confirmed later in the movie when it is revealed that the city leaders have been negotiating all along with the Turkish Sultan to keep the war going indefinitely with the winner of each battle decided beforehand, (which is intended as a critique of modern thinking).
  • Antichrist is a film that opens up with the unintentional suicide of an infant and just gets worse from there. Everyone in the film is horribly miserable and the film is shot in a in any ugly gray palette. Hell, even the acorns are miserable. And possibly vicious. Then again, this is also a Lars von Trier movie, so this is to be expected.
  • Avatar: We can tell that Earth has become this - or Gaia's Lament to be more specific - even though we never actually see it. However, an extended version of the first scene is available on the DVD, showing how crappy life on Earth is. Also, it can be inferred from conversations that the US has been involved in at least two more conflicts in different parts of the world.
  • Back to the Future Part II: Had a memorable version of this with the alternate version of 1985 Hill Valley. Biff became immensely rich and powerful with the Gray's Sports Almanac, and then turned Hill Valley into a heavily polluted city infested with trigger-happy gangs, armed militias and bikers.
  • Batman Begins, Tim Burton's 1989 Batman:
    • Those two films set Gotham up quite solidly as this; it gets worse in The Dark Knight.
    • Though in Nolan's films, it's a bit closer to a World Half Full, as part of the goal of Batman is to cleanse the world using righteous methods. It's pushed to the brink in The Dark Knight where a homicidal Monster Clown can turn the city's "White Knight" into a madman, but then the civillians and prisoners onboard the ferries prove him wrong about human morality, refusing to kill each other. It's pushed yet again in The Dark Knight Rises: Bane's unveiling the truth about Harvey Dent starts to undo all of the good work Dent, Gordon and Batman did and creates chaos. In the end, however, Batman is able to pull off a (seeming) Heroic Sacrifice, saving the city and finally earning the eternal gratitude of the populace, being immortalised as a hero whose values they can look up to.
    • Even The Dark Knight pales to Batman Returns, which is set in the crappiest of Crapsack Worlds where Batman admits that he's as twisted and neurotic as the villains he goes after, a despicable Corrupt Corporate Executive gets away with multiple acts of murder and pollution and still remains well respected as the "Light of Gotham", and the citizenry in general are gullible, decadent, and unlikeable. Seriously, if Heath Ledger's Joker turned up in the world of Batman Returns and set up the Prisoner's Dilemma with the two ferries, they'd blow each other up before he finished talking.
      • Gullible doesn't even begin to describe the citizens. They almost elected the Penguin mayor just because he was a Weekly World News-esque celebrity.
  • Black Death: If the plague doesn't get you the bandits or the witch-burners will.
  • The Blade: The far west/south west of old China as portrayed in Tsui Hark's film is as crapsack as old China gets. Marauding bandits? Check. Abundant opium? Check. Insane bounty hunters? Check. Enslaved prostitutes? Check. Villains killing monks and trapping dogs in bear clamps for sport? Check....
  • Blade Runner:
  • Blood Diamond: Sierra Leone is presented as a place where at any moment an army can descend on your village, rape your women, cut off your arms, force you into slavery, and turn your children into child soldiers. Unfortunately, this is very much truth in television.
  • The Book of Eli: Alcatraz is where the good people live.
  • A Boy and His Dog: The film condiders a post-apocalyptic violent Crapsack World "above ground" as the better alternative to the Dystopian repressive underground world.
  • Brazil:
    • This Terry Gilliam film. Imagine if Monty Python directed 1984, and you should get the general idea of how dark and twisted this movie is.
    • Only the wealthy are happy, but they're all corrupt. Even then, a bureaucratic mistake could mess them up.
      • Not all the wealthy are corrupt — they're just decadent and utterly moronic. And while the government in 1984 is so terrifying because of its extreme efficiency, in Brazil the horror comes from its utter incompetence and Kafkaesque bureaucratic insanity that can drive even the most ordinary people to insanity and terrorism.
  • Children of Men: This is a World Half Empty. Massive environmental pollution, heavy-handed authoritarian police\military presence, a largely apathetic and indifferent population that knows it's the last generation of humanity. Only Britain maintains the semblance of a functioning society, and barely at that.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: This universe, as first introduced in Pitch Black and expanded on in later films and games, is... well, let's just put it this way: The eponymous Riddick is a sociopathic, amoral mass murderer, and he's the setting's premier good guy. Alien monsters, ravaging hordes, renegade mercenaries turned slavers with a heavy helping of Body Horror, prisons that almost make real-world ones look pleasant by comparison...it's not a nice place.
  • Confessions: The classroom is an allegory for this.
  • Cool World: Let's just say Cool World is similar to Toontown from Who Framed Roger Rabbit if it had been created by a deranged comic book writer to pass the time while he was in jail for murdering his wife's boyfriend. The urban section of Toontown itself wasn't a very safe place to be a human. Or a car.
  • CSA The Confederate States Of America: This independent film depicts a world where the South won the American Civil War. Slavery is still legal and has grown to include Asians. The Confederacy conquered the Union shortly after the Civil War, and then conquered most of Latin America. Having even one drop of non-Caucasian blood means you are automatically put into slavery - unless you're Latino, in which case you live under an apartheid system. Women have not been liberated and sexism still rules. They enter World War II as allies of the Axis and launch a war against Japan, rather than the other way around. One line suggests they've conquered parts of the Middle East as well. All religions not based in Christianity are banned, with the exception of Judaism, and even they have been ghettoized onto Long Island. Many of the people responsible for America's cultural advancement, such as Mark Twain and Elvis Presley, flee to Canada, resulting in that country becoming the entertainment powerhouse. Plus, the two countries are in a Cold War with one another because the country accepts runaway slaves. Being gay also results in blacklisting or some other penalty, it isn't made clear which. In short, not the place you'd want to live.
  • Dark City: Where it's always night, everyone remembers a sunny beach but no one knows how to get there, and telekinetic aliens are experimenting with everyone's minds.
  • Daybreakers: Pictures a bleak future for mankind where Vampires have taken over and hunt humans.
  • Death Becomes Her: This is set in a bleak world where appearances are everything and becoming undead is preferable to aging. On the other hand, it is implied that Ernest achieved recognition and popularity in his new life because of his charitable nature, leading him to metaphorically "live forever" in a good way.
  • Death Wish: These are New York City and Los Angeles as depicted in these movies.
  • Detroit:
    • This Real Life city gets this treatment a lot in film, usually as a crime and gang-ridden hellhole.
    • Robocop's Detroit of the future.
    • The Crow's Detroit.
    • Airplane!!'s Detroit.
      "It was filled with every lowlife from Bombay to Calcutta... it was worse than Detroit."
    • David Bowie's Detroit.
      "A trickle of strangers were all that were left alive ... Panic in Detroit!"
    • Eminem's Detroit
    • Gran Torino's Detroit.
    • Up in the Air's Detroit:
    Ryan Bingham, Career Transition Counselor whose job takes him to Detroit with "clients" whose careers he "transitions" into unemployment: Now listen, these Detroit guys can be tough. They've been getting hammered. So you don't get distracted. Stick with the simple stuff. Get these packets in their hands and get them out the door, OK?
  • The Element of Crime
  • In Elysium Earth is devastated and overpopulated and the people who still live on it are destitute. The very wealthy live on the titular Elysium, a space station similar in appearance to a Stanford torus, and will stop at nothing to maintain the distinct separation between the two classes of people and prevent immigration. To show how bad things are on Earth, the slum city Max lives in is Los Angeles.
  • Escape from L.A.: Turns America itself into a fascist Crapsack World following the Big One, with anyone not following the new President's new "Moral America" laws being given a "choice" between being shipped off to Los Angeles Island, which is every bit as hellish as New York, or being executed via the electric chair. Snake gets shipped there for obvious reasons, but the President is willing to drop all charges for Snake's crimes in exchange for retrieving a superweapon that could knock out all power to the world which Snake ultimately uses in the end as a final "fuck you" to the President and the system.
  • Escape from New York: Takes place in a Dystopian America where New York's Manhattan Island has been turned into a maximum-security penitentiary in response to all the crime going down, and quintessential Badass and Anti-Hero Snake Plissken is given the job of breaking into the place in order to rescue the President.
  • Falling Down provides a Deconstruction. What happens if an ordinary white-collar man living in a Crapsack World just... Snaps? It's also a Deconstruction of escapist fantasies where ordinary people go out and get their own back on all the world's assholes.
  • Gabriel: In this Australian horror movie, Lucifer's forces have taken control of the movie's version of Purgatory. As a result, it takes the form of a filthy, corrupt and impoverished city that is locked in perpetual night. Even archangels despair after spending too much time there.
  • George Romero: The world in his original zombie films is a gradual display of this. In Night of the Living Dead, the emergency is just starting so it's not too bad, and there's a chance of recovery. Unfortunately, the end of the movie gives the audience a feeling of "We're fucked." In Dawn of the Dead, it's worse and the emergency services meant to solve the crisis are quickly overwhelmed by the growing zombie population. This one ends with a feeling that societal collapse is inevitable. In Day of the Dead, the collapse has happened and a group of military scientists are basically spinning their wheels because the people they were supposed to report are likely dead and all their solutions are no longer workable. In Land of the Dead, life really sucks in the Fiddler's Green human refuge because the only good people are being squashed by folks that make it look like humanity deserved to get crushed. Of course, this is the series that defined the Zombie Apocalypse, so it's expected.
  • The Grey: More like Crapsack Wilderness, but this film is about as dark of a movie as you can find. A harrowing survival film that ends with a heartbreaking Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
  • Hardware: This Horror/sci-fi film is set in a post-apocalyptic world full of weirdos, perverts and psychopaths with seemingly nothing on TV but news footage of war atrocities and GWAR videos. Overpopulation problems in the remaining radiation-filled cities are leading to the government introducing large-scale sterilisation, and there's a self-repairing android killing machine on the loose. Oh, and Lemmy is in it. Lampshaded by Iggy Pop as the never seen radio dj at the end of a very downbeat new report; "And now for the good news. There's No Fucking Good News!".
  • High Noon:
    • Hadleyville, the town, where Marshal Kane asks for the town's help to stop a returning villain and his gang. Only his pacifist wife and a 14-year-old kid tried to help him. Lampshaded by the judge:
    "This is just a dirty little village in the middle of nowhere. Nothing that happens here is really important. Now get out."
    • The Wild West in general is a crapsack world where killing is an everyday occurrence.
  • Hobo With a Shotgun: "Hope Town" makes most Wretched Hive cities look like Mayberry in comparison. Not only are the local crime lord and his two sons the epitome of evil, and not only are the cops on the take from these guys and viciously corrupt to boot, the Gorn levels and general depravity by the rest of the population is through the roof. And there's only ONE good person in the film who isn't a vigilante or a victim of some kind (a police officer), and he's only on screen for a couple of seconds.
  • I Am Legend: This is set in a post apocalyptic world where a cynical Robert Neville is one of the last survivors of a deadly viral outbreak. Only 1% were immune to this virus, 90% were killed immediately and the other 9% were turned into ravenous vampires trying to infect the remaining survivors. For the first half of the movie, Neville is the only survivor you see, and his dog. Neville searches for other survivors every day to no avail. In flashbacks it's shown that Neville's wife and daughter were killed in an attempt to evacuate the city. Half way through the movie, Neville's dog gets infected and he is forced to kill her, leaving him all alone. He grows even more cynical and even suicidal. For the record, this was in fact the third adaptation of the original novel, I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. The first adaptation was The Last Man On Earth starring Vincent Price, the second was The Omega Man starring Charleton Heston.
  • Idiocracy: In the future, everyone has a single-digit IQ, there's garbage literally everywhere, and the president of the United States is the future equivalent of a pro wrestler.
  • It's a Wonderful Life:
    • Pottersville.
    • Ah, but what if — unlike the goody-goody filmmaker Frank Capra — you enjoy jazz holes, gambling dens, and girlie joints? Then — in Capra's view, at least — you would be a Nightmare Fetishist.
    • It's a Wonderful Life: The tropes of Strawman Has a Point and Inferred Holocaust overlap.
      • Pottersville has more excitement and a superior economic infrastructure. Bedford Falls only has a moderate manufacturing economy and no obvious places to find excitement. Once the factory closes down Bedford Falls will suffer depression and unemployment. Pottersville has backup industries, such as the nightclubs, that can encourage outside investment.
      • Pottersville's only viable option for housing if you're not as rich as Mr. Potter are broken down shacks or really cheaply built houses that will probably collapse on you and yours in a matter of years, and its all run by a man who has no sympathy for his fellow man, and will readily screw anyone over if it means he can make a quick buck. Even if you like the jazz clubs and everything, you'd be a fool to want to live there.
      • George makes it clear that he wants to leave Bedford Falls, go to college, and travel the world. All of his dreams are destroyed and he must commit suicide to regain hope. Potter is correct that George’s life has not resulted in personal happiness. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]
  • Lawn Dogs: In this movie, the whole town of Camelot Gardens is full of upper middle class cretins who are distrustful of outsiders, and obsessed with moving up the social ladder. Trent, one of the movie's two heroes, is suspected for crimes he didn't commit, and even physically attacked, twice, for things he didn't do. Devon, a kid, has parents who try to use her only to promote their own image within the town and help their own social status. One can hardly blame Trent and Devon for becoming Rebellious Spirits. They are practically the only sympathetic people in the whole film!
  • The Ledge: Joe argues that the world is a Crapsack world. However, his argument is quite egocentric. It's all about him having made bad choices in his life and lived a shitty life until he found Christ.
  • The Little Shop of Horrors: Skid Row. The musical version has a number entitled "Downtown" that explains the story of Skid Row, such as its condition and Seymour's backstory.
  • Mad Max: This is set in a post-apocalyptic Australia where vicious biker gangs run wild, engaging in robbery, rape and murder whenever they can. The world of the sequels, The Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, isn't much better.
  • The Magdalene Sisters: The world of this film. 1960s Ireland where women who are deemed "corrupt" by the Church are sent to Magdalene Laundries where they are put to work and abused by the cruel nuns while their families disown them and society looks down on them as sinners. They are punished cruelly for many things. Bear in mind that the women the Church called corrupt in this film were a) raped by a cousin that appears to get off scot-free, b) had a baby out of wedlock (and was forced to put the baby up for adoption) and c) simply was too flirty with the local boys (said girl was still a virgin too). What makes this worse? That was how Ireland actually was back then. The last of the laundries closed in 1998. One Magdalene inmate spoke up saying that the reality was much worse than the film depicted.
  • The Matrix: This is a really extreme example. During a Robot War, humanity arranged for a self-replicating cloud of nanomachines be released into the atmosphere in order to deprive the Machines of solar energy. However, the humans were using that too so when the Machines found a new power source, the humans were quickly defeated. With their defeat and the total destruction of any and all infrastructure, the technology to dissipate the Darkstorm shroud was lost forever. That was over six hundred years ago which means a clean class 5 as the constant nighttime killed off the biosphere. Aside from the humans enslaved by the Machines and the humans in Zion who live off of protein supplements and geothermal energy, the Earth is dead. There are no known survivors of the war aside from these two groups (actually one because the Machines created Zion and are running a masquerade aimed at periodically debugging the Matrix by expelling rebel elements who will eventually harbor the next One who in turn will be bluffed into restarting the Matrix then taking a bunch of people out to repopulate a destroyed Zion and telling them they're the first ones out of the Matrix).
  • Network: Paddy Chayefsky's film, in which the only character that doesn't end up utterly corrupted is the lunatic, and he pays for it with his life.
  • Night of the Living Dead and its sequels take place in a world where even in the face of the human race crumbling into an ever-growing horde of cannibalistic zombies, the survival of the many comes second to the power and ego of the few. All of society's worst values are clung to while good will and cooperativeness rot along with the undead army, and the lawlessness of the apocalypse is something to be exploited for greed and sadism instead of remedied.
  • Onibaba: The war-ravaged Fourteenth Century Japan in which the peasants must try to survive, where armies destroy or eat all their crops, rape their daughters, conscript their sons, and leave them almost nothing on which to live.
  • Pacific Rim: In addition to the giant monster attacks that are happening with alarming regularity, there are clues that society has slowly broken down. Simple things like bread are seen as a luxury, people are working dangerous jobs for food rations, and there is an implied social divide between the wealthy and the rest of society with the rich getting special treatment in wake of the monster attacks.
  • Payback: There are literally zero characters who aren't involved in some sort of unsavory business, and the director tried to make the atmosphere as dreary and depressing as possible. The closest this film has to heroes are Porter, a guy who in any other film would be an Anti-Villain at best, and his ex-hooker love interest. The film's tagline was 'Get ready to root for the bad guy' which pretty much sums it up.
  • Perrier's Bounty plays this for laughs: every 'friend' the heroes turn to tries to turn them in to the pursuing gangsters. At one point merely sheltering from the rain in a barn causes the owner to call the cops after first accusing them of rape.
  • Planet of the Apes: "IT'S A MADHOUSE, A MADHOUSE!!!"
  • Priest: The world in this movie is a world where humans and vampires are at war for as long as they can both remember. Despite humanity's superior technology, the vampires continued to hold the advantage except for the fact that sunlight kills them. In the end, the humans won the war but the planet is still devastated and most of humanity is still confined to one single city where the pollution is so thick that the city has a perpetual night. The humans either lived in the city which is ruled by a Corrupt Church whose rule is reminiscent of Oceania or in the middle of the desert where they're at the mercy of being attacked by vampires. The Church won't do anything and instead covers it up because... actually, no one really knows why the church indirectly helps its worst enemy.
  • The Red Spectacles: Not only is the movie the usual Mamoru Oshii tripfest, but Japan has banned stand-and-eat soba. And it only gets worse from there.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera: Has an epidemic of organ failures, a country ruled by a corporation that had murder sanctioned by law, and legions of people addicted to painkillers and/or surgery. It's small wonder Nathan locked his daughter in her bedroom.
  • Revolution 2009: Az'Az discovers the hard way that the streets are unkind to just about everybody.
  • The Road: It's a post-apocalyptic world where a cataclysm has killed off almost ALL plant and animal life, all civilization is long gone, everything is ashen and filthy and cold, and the few survivors left are cannibals, thieves, starving scavengers, or some combination thereof. The hero's only goal is the keep himself and his son alive long enough to reach the coast, and even he doesn't know if it'll be any warmer or easier to find food there. It isn't.
  • Road to Perdition: Being a Film Noir setting, has this kind of world.
  • Se7en: The depiction of the world is pretty half empty, but the last lines of the film say it best:
    Somerset: Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.
  • The Sergio Leone western films seem to show that they are set in a Crapsack World. In For a Few Dollars More, the title card sets the stage by declaring, "Where life had no value, death, sometimes, had its price. That is why the bounty killers appeared."
  • The Seventh Seal: This film is pretty Crapsack. It involves the Plague, Witch Burnings, a horrific scene of self-flagellation, and lots of death. The protagonist's squire saves a young woman from a rapist (who is also a priest) and then says he would rape her himself, but he doesn't feel like it. There is mention of strange events, such as when "two horses ate each other," which leads to almost every character fearing it is the End Times. The protagonist also playing Chess with Death throughout, and when he tells a Priest in confessional that is on the verge of winning (by playing "a combination of Bishop and Knight") the priest is revealed to be Death in disguise. Knowing his strategy, Death is able to win, and the film ends with every 'good' character but 3 dying.
  • The Snow Queen (2012) takes place in a world conquered by a totalitarian Snow Queen, who has brought on a new Ice Age, and also banned art.
  • Sorority Row: This is a Slasher Movie and therefore not a pleasant scenario anyway, but even aside from this nearly every 'normal' character is a supremely horrible Jerkass from the therapist who buys sex from his clients in exchange for drugs to the corrupt senator who threatens his potential daughter-in-law to the sadistic backstabbing sorority sisters themselves. When one of the more sympathetic characters in the film is a date rapist you know you are in Crapsack World.
  • Soylent Green: Though it apparently varies person to person.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: The uninhabited province of Qo'noS in which the Enterprise crew track down Harrison appears hellish for humans, and even Klingons don't regularly stop by.
  • Star Wars:
    • Tatooine in this universe. On top of being populated by monsters, mob bosses, wanted criminals, violent tribesmen, and con artists, it's one big desert.
    • Nar Shaddaa too, seen how it's basically the criminal capital of the whole galaxy (pre-release material for Jedi Outcast actually singles out one Rodian as "the only legitimate businessman" on the entire planet, and even his business is a front for criminal activity). The scenery is somewhat like a ruined, decaying Coruscant, crime is the order of the day and the value of life approaches zero. It's also the moon of Nal Hutta, which is home to the Hutts, some of the most inherently evil creatures in the SW universe.
  • Taxi Driver: Showed New York City through the eyes of a young, disturbed man absolutely sickened by the prostitutes, junkies and pimps. Therefore, it comes out looking like a Hell.
  • The Third Man: What's really depressing is that it was shot on location in a bombed-out, post WWII-era Vienna. That's our World Half Empty.
  • Tropa de Elite: Seems to suggest that, caught between out of control criminals and a vapid, selfish middle class the only options open to the police are corruption or fascism.
  • The Usual Suspects: This is set in the dark underworld of New York and Los Angeles. The police are either horribly corrupt or completely ignorant about civil rights. The main characters are a bunch of violent hijackers and corrupt business men and "it" never stops. The most sympathetic character in the movie is the crippled con-man Verbal. Who is also the Big Bad, Keyser Soze.
  • V for Vendetta: This is set in a London turned fascist with Police Brutality being the order of the day. The closest thing this work has to a hero is a Byronic Hero who would very much be considered a terrorist.
  • WALL•E: The entire Earth centuries earlier had been reduced to a trash-filled Hellhole, the human population fleeing when it started to become too difficult to breathe and the "throw legions of trash-compacting robots at the problem" approach failed. By the time of the movie, all the WALL•E unit (barring one) have broken down, with the last one continuing to pile up the trash into layers surpassing the skyscrapers, with only a cockroach as a friend. Still, things had improved enough for plant life to be viable.
  • Watchmen: The world depicted is very depraved. Excerpt from Rorschach's Journal (though he might be exaggerating a bit): "The streets are extended gutters, and the gutters are full of blood. And when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up around their waists... Now the whole world stands on the brink... staring down into bloody hell."
  • Waterworld: But for Enola, It Gets Better.
  • Welcome To The Dollhouse: The films of Todd Solondz, particularly this film, seem to revel in this.
  • Winter's Bone: Rural Missouri is filled with meth labs, poverty, violence, secrets, inbreeding and the subordination of women. Even the terrain is cold, rugged and inhospitable. Bonus points for being shot entirely on location, with many of the smaller roles filled with people who actually lived there (much like The Third Man).
  • Wristcutters: A Love Story: Makes the afterlife (at least for those who commit suicide) into this. For instance, it is physically impossible to smile.

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