Panic in Year Zero! (1962)

Article #260 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 12-1-2001
Posting date: 4-16-2002

While leaving for vacation, a family notices a flash behind them, and discovers that Los Angeles has been destroyed in a nuclear attack. They retreat into the wilderness to survive.

This is a strong, memorable movie with a solid performance and good direction by Ray Milland; after seeing this, I wouldn’t have minded if he’d directed some more. It’s not perfect; I find it hard to believe that once his family has found the cave where they stay, the only people they run into are ones that they ran into on the trip to the cave. Still, the movie is quite gripping, and you watch it in anticipation of finding out what’s going to happen next, and if all will survive. And the theme of trying to remain civilized while doing what is necessary to survive is quite compelling. I didn’t quite know what to expect from this film going in (and the trailer makes it look as if it could become quite exploitative), and I was pleasantly surprised.


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