Horrorible Review: “Panic in the Year Zero”

Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!

Panic in the Year Zero

I first saw this one about 1972 and even though by then it was already quaint visit with a bygone time, this 1962 film grabbed my attention pretty quickly.  Maybe it’s because I watched it alone in a haunted house.  *shrug* I was surprised at how vividly I remembered, even forty years later, and when I saw it on a four pack with Last Man on Earth (which I needed a copy of) of course I snatched it up.

On re-viewing it I was surprised at how much they tried to make the nuclear holocaust – which we were seriously all expecting at the time – scary, and how well they succeeded.  On a humorous note, it’s also pretty much an educational film on the apocalypse, like the ones that showed us back in the day on how to accessorize our dresses, eat food in a civilized manner, and later, all the nasty things that will happen to you in a car accident.

People in Panic lose the veneer of civilization pretty quickly, like the father of the Nuclear American Family (ha!), who turns to robbery and guns pretty quickly to “protect” his family.  Not that I blame him much, but he turns paranoid and dark pretty well right off the bat.  The mom, in a thoroughly sexist turn, nags him time and again about fighting, robbing, and *gasp* defending the family with a gun.  Panic stars Ray Milland, who directed, and a really young Frankie Avalon.

I’m pretty sure seeing this movie as a young teen did a lot to form my interest and enjoyment in apocalypse fiction.  It’s got everything Dawn of the Dead had a few years later, except it’s in quaint black and white, the characters are terribly naive, and there’s a small town grocery store instead of a mall.


Panic in the Year Zero movie poster


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