Red Nightmare (1962)

Red Nightmare (1962)
Article 5701 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-26-2019
Directed by George Waggner
Featuring Jack Kelly, Jeanne Cooper, Peter Brown
Country: USA
What it is: Government anti-communist propaganda film

A married man who is lax in his civic duties dreams that his town has been taken over by communists.

I found this short as an extra on my DVD of INVASION USA, and it makes an apt companion to that feature. Both movies feature people who haven’t been sufficiently motivated to fight the threat of communism undergoing a transforming dream experience (one hypnotically induced, the other a normal dream) which makes them reform; incidentally, it’s from the same template from which A CHRISTMAS CAROL was built. The main difference between the two is that the feature was primarily concerned with the horrors of an invasion of American soil (the political philosophy could have been easily changed to any other threat), whereas the short was more concerned of the horrors of actually living under a communist regime.

Of the two, this short is the more effective; it’s professionally made, well-acted, and not swamped with stock footage. It does have its faults, however; the townspeople during the dream sequence mostly behave like heartless robots spouting occasional Marxist propaganda, which is very stereotypical. It also gets long-windedly preachy at this time. Still, I suspect this choices were intentional; after all, this was a government film (albeit one that had a lot of professional Hollywood help) whose purpose was to scare people away from communism. Several name actors and familiar faces appear: Jack Webb narrates, and both Andrew Duggan and Robert Conrad appear. Nowadays, it’s a bit of a curio.

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