Panic in Year Zero!
|Panic in Year Zero!|
|Directed by||Ray Milland|
|Story by||Jay Simms|
|Music by||Les Baxter|
|Edited by||William Austin|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
Panic in Year Zero! (a.k.a. End of the World) is a 1962 American black-and-white science fiction film from American International Pictures, produced by Arnold Houghland and Lou Rusoff, directed by Ray Milland, who also stars with Jean Hagen, Frankie Avalon, and Joan Freeman. The original music score was composed by Les Baxter. The screenplay was written by John Morton and Jay Simms. The film was released in 1962 by AIP on a double bill with Tales of Terror.
Harry Baldwin (Ray Milland), his wife Ann (Jean Hagen), their son Rick (Frankie Avalon), and daughter Karen (Mary Mitchell) leave suburban Los Angeles on a camping trip. The Baldwins notice unusually bright light flashes coming from a great distance. Sporadic news reports broadcast on CONELRAD hint at the start of an atomic war, later confirmed when the Baldwins see a large mushroom cloud over what was Los Angeles.
The family initially attempts to return to rescue Ann's mother, who lives near Los Angeles, but soon abandons these plans as panicked refugees climb over one another to escape the fallout from multiple nuclear explosions. Witnessing the threads of society being torn apart, Harry decides the family must find refuge at their secluded vacation spot.
Along the way, they stop to buy supplies, or, in the case of hardware store owner Ed Johnson (Richard Garland), take them by force when he won't accept a check. They also encounter three threatening young hoodlums, Carl (Richard Bakalyan), Mickey (Rex Holman), and Andy (Neil Nephew), on the road, but manage to drive them off.
After a harrowing journey, the Baldwins reach their destination and find shelter in a cave, while they wait for order to be restored. They find that Johnson and his wife are their neighbors, but not for long. The three thugs appear and shoot them. A farming couple suffers the same fate, and their teenage daughter, Marilyn (Joan Freeman), is kept as a sex slave. Karen is also raped when Mickey and Andy happen upon her. With guns in hand, the Baldwin men fight back, killing the two murderers and freeing Marilyn. When Carl returns he is killed as well, but Rick is seriously wounded.
With Marilyn's help, they get the young man to Doctor Strong (Willis Bouchey). The doctor does what he can, but the boy needs a blood transfusion and must be taken to an army hospital more than a 100 miles (160 km) away, or he will die. On their drive there, they encounter a military patrol scouting for the army that is reestablishing order. After a tense meeting, the group is allowed to continue. Watching them depart, the soldiers note that they're among the "good ones" who escaped radiation sickness by being in the mountains when the bombs exploded. As the family drives on, a closing title card states: "There must be no end – only a new beginning".
- Ray Milland as Harry Baldwin
- Jean Hagen as Ann Baldwin
- Frankie Avalon as Rick Baldwin, son
- Mary Mitchel as Karen Baldwin, daughter
- Joan Freeman as Marilyn Hayes
- Richard Bakalyan as Carl
- Rex Holman as Mickey
- Richard Garland as Ed Johnson, hardware store owner
- Willis Bouchey as Dr. Powell Strong
- Neil Nephew as Andy
- O.Z. Whitehead as Hogan, grocery store owner
- Russ Bender as Harkness
- Shary Marshall as Bobbie Johnson
The film was originally known as Survival. Samuel Z. Arkoff of AIP said Avalon and Milland were teamed together because "they both have particular types of followers and the combination adds up to an attraction."
Frankie Avalon later said, the film came out to real good reviews. AIP was smart enough to send the star with the picture around the country to promote it. We did a tour of theaters in Los Angeles, and it made its money back just in Los Angeles alone."
This success led to Avalon making a number of movies with AIP.
Michael Atkinson, the film critic for The Village Voice, liked the film and wrote in 2005, "This forgotten, saber-toothed 1962 AIP cheapie might be the most expressive on-the-ground nightmare of the Cold War era, providing a template not only for countless social-breakdown genre flicks (most particularly, Michael Haneke's Time of the Wolf) but also for authentic crisis—shades of New Orleans haunt its DVD margins...the movie is nevertheless an anxious, detail-rich essay on moral collapse."
Glenn Erickson writes, in his DVD Savant review, "Panic In Year Zero! scrupulously avoids any scenes requiring more than minimalist production values yet still delivers on its promise, allowing audience imagination to expand upon the narrow scope of what's actually on the screen. It sure seemed shocking in 1962, and easily trumped other more pacifistic efforts. The Day the Earth Caught Fire was for budding flower people; Panic In Year Zero! could have been made as a sales booster for the gun industry."
- List of American films of 1962
- List of apocalyptic films
- List of nuclear holocaust fiction
- Survival film, about the film genre, with a list of related films
- King, Susan (January 7, 2003). "The reluctant Angel". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- "Panic in Year Zero!". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- Filmland Events: Avalon Joins Milland in A-I'S 'Survival' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 Dec 1961: 20.
- Who Needs High Salaried Stars? Horrors! Film Makers Find Audiences Prefer Action Alpert, Don. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 July 1962: A8.
- Atkinson, Michael. The Village Voice, film review, September 20, 2005. Last accessed: December 2, 2009.
- Erickson, Glenn. DVD Savant, film review, April 8, 2005. Last accessed: December 2, 2009.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009, ISBN 0-89950-032-3.