Panic in Year Zero!
|Panic in Year Zero!|
Theatrical release poster
|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!, sometimes known as End of the World, is a 1962 science fiction film directed by and starring Ray Milland. The original music score was composed by Les Baxter. It was written by John Morton and Jay Simms. The film was released by American International Pictures as a double feature 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 note unusually bright light flashes coming from a great distance. Sporadic news reports on CONELRAD broadcasts hint at the start of a thermonuclear war, which is confirmed as 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 to get to an army hospital over a 100 miles (160 km) away for a blood transfusion, 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 went off. As the family drives on, a closing title card states: "There must be no end – only a new beginning".
The film was originally known as Survival. Samuel 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."
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.