Panic in Year Zero (End of the World)

Year: 1962

Production: Alta Vista / VIP

Director: Ray Milland

Starring: Ray Milland, Jean Hagen, Frankie Avalon, Mary Mitchel, Joan Freeman, Richard Garland

Screenwriter: Jay Simmons

Based (without credit) on the stories "Lot" (1953) and "Lot's Daughter" (1954) by Ward Moore. Novelization (1962) by Dean Owen

95 minutes; B/W


This cynical, violent film - one of the earliest examples of the survivalist ethos in cinema - shows how a typical US family have to act to survive the aftermath of an atomic holocaust: by trusting no one and shooting first. The father quickly, and almost gleefully, reverts to being a ruthless "natural survivor" who will let nothing stand in the way of getting his family to safety after Los Angeles has been A-bombed. The escape along roads jammed with panicking traffic is strongly done, but thereafter the film subsides into clumsy adventure in the mountains; it is inferior to, and lacks the sexual reverberations of, the stories on which it was loosely based, though it retains some biblical parallels.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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