What Would You Do if the Bomb Fell Today? Panic in Year Zero (1962) Review

The End of the World, be it nuclear, environmental, medical, technological, or religious in nature, whether it arrives as a result of a careening meteor or an alien invasion, has provided a rich source of inspiration for filmmakers for nearly a century now. Of the countless filmic visions of the apocalypse to date (The Day the Sky Exploded, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, The Last Days of Man on Earth, The Last Days of Planet Earth, The Last Man on Earth, This is Not a Test, Virus, Grass, Threads, Five…), few can match the simple, brutal strangeness of Oscar-winning actor Ray Milland’s sole directorial effort, Panic in Year Zero. Released in 1962 by AIP with a finger-poppin’ jazz score by Art Baxter and a screenplay by Jay Simms (The Giant Gila Monster, The Killer Shrews) and John Morton (who did nothing else), the film fed straight into the post-Cuban Missile Crisis jitters with a portrait of psychological ugliness audiences couldn’t have expected.

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