Panic in Year Zero!

An orgy of looting and lust!

Drama Science Fiction Thriller
93 min     6.2     1962     USA


While on a fishing trip, Harry Baldwin and his family hear an explosion and realize that Los Angeles has been leveled by a nuclear attack. Looters and killers are everywhere. Escaping to the hills with his family, he sets about the business of surviving in a world where, he knows, the old ideals of humanity will be the first casualties.


John Chard wrote:
Isn't there anyone we can trust? Harry Baldwin (Ray Milland) and his family set off for a vacation, whilst on route they witness a blinding flash of light that forces them to stop. From their vantage point in the hills it becomes evident that Los Angeles has been the victim of a nuclear attack, what is also evident is that the enemy is not merely confined to those people who launched the bombs. Panic In Year Zero! is now one of those films that looks dated because of the impasse nature of a nuclear threat in the world, but really when one goes into this smart piece then do it the courtesy of allowing it its time frame paranoia heart. The deconstruction of the human condition under duress is a subject that will forever be of interest to the arts and those who willingly observe it, but when a medium is tight in its portrayal then it's something to be cherished, such is the case here in Panic In Year Zero! We have your standard family, Mom, Dad, Daughter and Son, all genuine and honest people, all of them about to witness the dark side of human nature, not only from the outside looking in, but from within themselves as well! A plot of this type can only work well as a watching experience if the cast have a bit of gravitas to impart, that they do is not only a relief, but also a reward for those investing in yet another B movie dealing with a well worn topic. Ray Milland is great as the father, a cool resilient dad of the 60s who instantly grasps the situation and adapts accordingly. Jean Hagen and Mary Mitchel play mother & daughter respectively, both fitting in perfectly to this family crisis, but it's Frankie Avalon as the son who really comes to the party armed, never one who was blessed with acting talent, his performance here is full of credibility and as the story unfolds, he is never found wanting in the entertainment stakes. It's far from perfect, and some things are hard to ignore, I mean are we really meant to believe that Milland and Hagen have hatched Frankie Avalon from their union! But the minor quibbles are easily dismissed in favour of the astute and well acted nature of the picture, it's good intelligent sci-fi that always delivers upon revisits. 7/10