Showing posts with label frankie avalon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frankie avalon. Show all posts

16 March 2015

DVD Review - Panic in Year Zero (1962)

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Genre:
Drama
Distributor:
Simply Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date:
16th March 2015 (UK)
Rating: PG
Director:
Ray Milland
Cast:Ray Milland, Jean Hagen, Frankie Avalon, Mary Mitchel, Joan Freeman
Buy: Panic in Year Zero [DVD]

Ray Milland was one of the big screen’s greatest actors, which is evident in such classics as Lost Weekend (which he won the Oscar for), Dial M for Murder, and The Big Clock amongst many others. Due to rumoured alcoholism (but never confirmed) and a desire to direct, he moved away from acting in major films and started directing, but he also starred in some AIP B-Movies, and actually directed one of the ones he starred in - Panic in Year Zero.

Panic in Year Zero is a classic bit of cold war, apocalyptic filmmaking. Ray Milland plays the father of the Baldwin family, Harry. The Baldwins try to go on a family camping trip, but L.A gets attacked with nuclear bombs (if only that would happen). Harry must become a full out survivalist to survive the nuclear fallout and the chaos and crime that follows in it’s wake.

It’s not quite the harrowing apocalyptic tale of something like Peter Watkins' fantastic The War Game. It moves at a swift 87 minute pace, which is due to the fact it was a part of a double bill with Roger Corman’s Tales of Terror. It’s also certainly one of Milland’s finest later roles; he plays a total paranoid asshole perfectly. It might not be the genius of X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes but it’s pretty damn good. The teen heartthrob singer Frankie Avalon plays his son.

The depiction of the total moral collapse of society after a nuclear war is a more likely outcome than the more proto-hippie takes around the same time. It’s also sets the template for so many post-apocalyptic journey films from Mad Max to The Road to stuff like Time of the Wolf. It may have had a tiny budget but it’s big ideas and the atmosphere it portrayed, despite showing very little, still works it’s charms over 50 years later.

★★★1/2
Ian Schultz