Panic In Year Zero!

The apoca­lypse on a shoe­string

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - DVD & Blu-Ray -

Re­lease Date: 16 March

1962 | 15 | DVD Direc­tor: Ray Mil­land Cast: Ray Mil­land, Jean Ha­gen, Frankie Avalon, Mary Mitchel It’s the end of the world as Ray Mil­land and his fam­ily know it, as the nu­clear bombs go off just af­ter his LA- dwelling brood set off on hol­i­day. Al­ways an­noy­ing when that hap­pens.

Amer­ica’s on the brink of melt­down, but not ev­ery­one re­alises it. Hence in the early, best parts of the film, prag­matic dad Harry Baldwin ( Mil­land) plun­ders un­wit­ting gro­cery and hard­ware stores for es­sen­tial sup­plies; then he gets nasty when busi­ness own­ers don’t give him what he wants – guns, for in­stance. The film’s quite sharp in its de­pic­tion of how sup­ply and de­mand eco­nomics un­der­pin civil­i­sa­tion – brusque wheel­ing and deal­ing soon be­gins, and not long af­ter de­scends into bru­tal­ity.

It’s some­what un­for­tu­nate, then, that an in­ap­pro­pri­ate, in­sis­tent jazz score backs the drama, although oc­ca­sion­ally campy dia­logue has a ten­dency to do that too: “You’re just not like your­self,” Baldwin’s wife tells her bat­tered hus­band, who’s been scrap­ping around in a postapoc­a­lyp­tic waste­land, while Baldwin him­self muses folksily, “Noth­ing like eat­ing un­der an open sky – even if it is ra­dioac­tive.”

The film is low bud­get, with chunks of ob­vi­ous stock footage, but mostly gets away with it be­cause of the post- apoc­a­lyp­tic sce­nario. The nar­ra­tive fiz­zles out a lit­tle in the sec­ond half, un­sure where to go, and it’s never es­pe­cially weighty or mean­ing­ful, but over­all it’s a fun lit­tle jour­ney to world’s end.

Ex­tras: None. Rus­sell Lewin Don­ald Fa­gen and Wal­ter Becker of ’ 70s rock­ers Steely Dan wrote the song “King Of The World” af­ter watch­ing the film.

Af­ter the Bomb drops, we’ll go back to be­ing in black and white.

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