my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Panic in Year Zero!
Director:   Ray Milland
Year:   1962
Genre:   Apocalypse
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   05.26.06

Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
05.26.06DVD Some movies really creep up on me. I saw this on a whim a few years back and didn't think much of it... just another cheapie nuclear scare picture good for a laugh and not much else. But as time wore on, I found myself thinking back to this with fonder and fonder memories until suddenly I was bringing it up to people and calling it awesome. For whatever reason, this movie stuck with me and has really grown into a favorite of mine.

I like apocalypse movies. Post-Apocalypse, Pre-Apocalypse, Dawn-of-Apocalypse, you name it. If the movie takes place in any sort of relational timeframe to the Apocalypse... I'm down. Imagine you wake up early one morning to take the family on a camping and fishing trip up in the mountains. A few hours of driving later, you notice a flash of lightning in the morning sky. Wait a minute, there are no thunderclouds... another flash hits. You pull over to check the windows of your trailer and see mushroom clouds blooming all over Los Angeles. So what do you do? In Ray Milland's eyes the answer is simple: you protect your family.

Not only do I love all of the details of a normal world losing its civilization inch by inch, but this movie also stands out because Milland instantly becomes a badass capable of murder and enlists his son (played by Frankie Avalon) as his sidekick/soldier. When he's not ordering him around to gather wood, tie rope to bridges and drive the family station wagon, he's got him covering the old man's back with a rifle, even yelling at him that he almost missed one roadside reprobate who threatened them with a gun. When Milland learns that the reason why he almost missed (it's not because his son has a problem with killing a peer, in fact he kind of likes it) is that the mom pulled at his gun, he goes off on her too. The movie is really about holding onto civilization, both as a society and individually... Milland goes to these militaristic lengths to protect his family fully aware of what he dangerously close to losing. It's a really cool struggle that reminds me more than a little bit of revenge films...

It does have a little bit of a problem ending, but if you think about it in a certain way then it fits... It actually works for me more than any kind of deus ex machina or fabricated climx could... apocalypse movies (and zombie movies funnily enough... strange how interchangeable nuclear holocaust and a wave of zombies are) usually end with the first frame of film, the whole movie is ABOUT ending... ending of everything and our pitiful grasp at straws to hold on just a few days longer... but this one is about beginning. How do you end a movie that's about beginning? kinda tough... This ending reminds me of the ending to Stephen King's novella The Mist.

So yeah, I really love this movie. It's got an awesome jazzy score by Les Baxter, Milland plays a crazy man, Avalon plays a kill-happy teenager... what's there not to like?
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