Now that we’re all going to die in a nuclear ball of light any day now, it might be a good time to hype up what awaits for those who will survive it. How is Cold War II grabbing you?
Note, these are different from Five of the Best Nuclear War movies, which is a list of movies that lead up to the end, then shows it (whereas most nuke movies just jump straight to nuclear winter).
If you live in a small, picturesque town, you may miss the ball of light directly. But you won’t miss the side effects. This 1983 movie is more 80’s than the 80’s itself, everything is pure America. Until the radiation shows up, and the food stops coming into the town.
This is Jericho’s nastier ancestor, going to places the TV show didn’t dare, such as wrapping your dead children up in sheets and getting rid of the bodies. There are some nice touches that illustrate the massive claustrophobia, such as the old man with the ham radio who slowly learns that it’s the end of the world.
The film stars William Devane, and also features Kevin Costner with a worried look on his face at community meetings…
THE DAY AFTER (1983)
This is supposedly the film that made Ronald Reagan say; ah shit, maybe this WW3 stuff isn’t such a good idea.
It’s more 80’s bliss interrupted by the ball of light, which then leads to hair falling out, fighting over food and family men turning vicious with their shotguns to protect what’s theirs.
This TV movie lasts two hours, but the original cut was four hours. This version, it is said, had execs leaving the screening room sobbing and panting, with the movie then being cut and trimmed over many months. Who knows what was cut, but it probably wasn’t pretty.
The two hour version is still grueling in itself.
Jericho is another example of an untouched American town narrowly avoiding the ball of light, but then slowly succumbing to the effects of the apocalypse. The town rallies and tries to save itself, it’s kind of like The Walking Dead, only not shit.
This is one of those shows I wish I could do that ‘memory erasing’ thing on, because if you watch it for the first time without being ‘spoiled’ (the ending isn’t too great), it is in my opinion truly gripping TV. Especially in the current climate.
Fallout, marauders and the unknown makes for good TV.
What is it with 1983/1984 and nuclear apocalypse films? To show just how close, and I mean really close, human idiots came to the end, 1983: The Brink of Apocalypse is mandatory viewing. Closer than the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Threads came the following year.
And as depressing as The Day After is, Threads takes the cake for abject, terrifying misery. Dead and rotting bodies stashed in the house (you don’t wanna go outside to that fallout), starvation, black rain… it makes for hell in movie format. Note: this TV movie will likely literally ruin your day.
ON THE BEACH (2000)
There’s a pattern here, all of these mentions are TV-based. Unsurprisingly, it’s probably right to consider that families don’t want to line up at a cinema with their popcorn to see a realistic nuclear holocaust.
This Australian TV movie and remake of the original of the same name, puts manly man Armand Assante, the captain of a U.S. submarine, on a quest to flee the fallout headed south that is finishing off the planet. The continent Down Under has escaped the carnage, but it’s coming.
The last of humanity in this movie, when they’re not looting, are getting wasted. Aside from the melodrama, it’s definitely a unique watch.