Sunday, 14 May 2017

Panic In The Year Zero

Panic In Year Zero
1962, USA
dir. Ray Milland
Cast:Ray Milland, Frankie Avalon, Jean Hagen

The Baldwin family head off on a camping trip and from the hills, witness the destruction of Los Angeles by nuclear attack. As the roads get swamped by refugees, father Harry realises that it's everyone for themselves, so stocks up on food, robs a gun store and holes his family up in a cave. When his son is injured in a gun fight with some hooligans who raped their daughter, the family have to return to what's left of civilisation, finding the army restoring order.
One of the first films to consider the question of post-nuclear survival (even if issues like fallout are skirted round), Panic In Year Zero probably inspired a whole generation of survivalists to stock up their retreats. It'll teach you to only grab tinned and dried food, to cache food in case of robbery and to shoot any rapey looking greasers at the first opportunity you get, before they come back and take advantage of your womenfolk. The thread of decent folk having to do desperate things to survive is a thread that continued through films like No Blade Of Grass and Carriers. Although now dated, the film is still interesting as a document of the times. The film ends with them meeting some soldiers, with the presence of the army being a sign of hope, where as post Vietnam/Watergate, the presence of the army in most films would mean you'd at best be shot accidentally, if not robbed or worse (see most of Romero's Dead films). A remnant of a time about to lose its innocence.

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