Monday, February 23, 2009

SHTF Movies: Panic in Year Zero

When I was eight years old, a freak ice storm hit our area. The roads were nearly impassable, traffic was tied up and naturally, my school called a late start that morning.

My sister and I carpooled with another girl nearby and were able to make it to her house before we found out school was delayed. Her mother parked us on the couch, put on the television and went about her morning chores. (this was in the old days when mothers drove station wagons, wore their hair in curlers until 4:45 PM and cleaned house daily).

In those days, there was only 5 channels in our fair town; CBS, ABC, NBC, one local channel and a single UHF station broadcasting religious programming. At that time, national and local channels pretty much had free reign as to what they wanted to broadcast during non-prime time hours.

We had swell shows like Dialing for Dollars (watch a movie and during the commercials an announcer would call viewers and have them guess the jackpot), local cooking shows, farm reports (the show sets looked like they cost $10.00 in scrap lumber to build) and of course "women's programming" like fashions, household tips and exotic travel documentaries to places like New York City or New Orleans!

In the morning hours, there was usually a movie on to kill two hours. These films were all "B" movies which were cheap for local broadcasters to run unlimited numbers of times in the morning and late at night.

It was that icy morning I saw my first survival themed film.. "Panic In Year Zero".

Released in 1962 in full black and white splendor, "Panic" starred Academy award winner Ray Milland along with Jean Hagen and teen heart throb, Frankie Avalon.

The story follows a Los Angeles family as they head out early one morning for a camping and fishing vacation. Two hours after they leave home, they notice a flash in the sky far behind them. They ignore it until a few events take place (a car crash, a Conelrad radio alert and a crowded diner) reveal to them that a nuclear war has taken place.

Their home, Los Angeles has been hit and phone service to the area is out. Mom wants to return home to check on her mother, but dad Milland says nothing doing.

First, the family hits a small town and buys a few hundred dollars worth of groceries. In those days, that was enough to stuff their trailer full of canned goods and other things. The best scene here is the daughter picking up some sodas and her father saying, "No, leave that and get chocolate bars and honey". (Dad remembers WWII and knows what will be needed and what is junk!). On the way out, Dad advises the owner to lock up and hoard is stock as a mob will be coming soon from nuked Los Angeles to clean him out.

Next, they go to the hardware store and have their first problem. After they stock up on gasoline cans, rope, axes, and other hardware, Dad picks out a shotgun, lever action rifle and a fine .45 automatic (Ah, old school hardware stores). When the time to pay comes, Dad is short on cash and offers to write a check. The owner laughs and says "fat chance". Dad pulls his recently acquired .45 on the owner, leaves a check and clears out. The hardware store owner vows revenge.

Gasoline is next on the list and by now, the service station jockey knows about the war. He wants $3.00 a gallon for thirty cent gas. Dad belts him and throws a handful of rapidly devaluing cash on the sprawled unconscious body of the attendant. (Dad is fine with taking stuff, but nobody better try that business on him!).

The family plans on heading to their campground and holing up until things get better. More problems ahead..

Traffic from LA stalling their path.. Dad burns his way through that..

A road block in a small town.. Dad blows through it.

A carload of hoodlums ("Cops kinda busy, daddio"). Son chases the off with shotgun, but after Mom blocks his killing shot..

Finally, they arrive at their campsite. They tear down the bridge to the camp (good) and dump their trailer (dumb) and move into a cave (interesting).

Things get rough soon after..

The daughter is assaulted by the same carload of hoodlums..

The hardware store owner arrives and moves into their abandoned trailer!

The hoodlums have to be eradicated, but soon after, Son is shot!

And more adventures happen soon after.

Happy ending however and all turns out well. As the final line of the movie goes "Good, another healthy family to rebuild America". Happy times.

Get this movie from your local vendor or of course on Amazon.

Panic in Year Zero

I loved this movie as a kid and laughed at the crazy loud music in every scene. Apparently, Milland directed this classic as well as starring in it and had a hand in picking the score. This was the film the subconsciously got me into the whole prepper mentality, I just didn't realize it until twenty five years later.

A great watch for a somewhat corny, but hard to find film. "Panic in Year Zero" gets one thumb up from me (the other is holding my .30-30).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great movie...thanks for the share...very true about human nature

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