Nicholas Meyer

Interesting director and screenwriter, involved with some of the Star Trek movies.  He wrote Fatal Attraction.

The Day After (1983) -- Thank God I didn't watch this when it was a released as an ABC TV movie in 1983, when I was eight years old.  I remember going to school the next morning and everyone in my third grade class being scared shitless, a paranoia that lasted... oh, I dunno, until the Berlin Wall came down?  Of course, the threat of nuclear war was in the air at the time, what with the Cold War and Reagan's demented brittle fingers on the button.  The movie starts by introducing a cast of likeable characters with everyday problems (that actually manage to be captivating) while news reports are constantly going on in the background, releasing little hints minute by minute that something's going to go down.  The entire first hour of the movie is a slow build of pressure, right up to the panic before the storm, climaxing with the bombs themselves going off.  The ensuing death of nearly everyone in the radius of the bomb was handled particularly well.  The effects are, by today's standards, cheesy--however, that only makes it all the more effective, especially for today (and for 1983, I'm sure it just looked realistic and frightening).  We know what well-done end-of-world effects look like.  We've seen Independence Day and all that.  This isn't one of those movies.  This isn't a disaster movie made for entertainment purposes (though it is entertaining).  The effect is this: the victims are freeze-framed and turned into X-rays before disappearing, in about a second, and it's pretty disturbing.  After this, the movie settles down a bit and deals with the survivors, and this is where the movie goes from being suspenseful to being one of the grimmest movies I've ever seen.  It piles one image on top of the other: dead animals turned white lying in the field, the ashes of dead people floating around like snow, the gruesome effects the radiation is having on skin and hair... finally culminating with the two most haunting scenes: a woman giving birth to a baby and laughing ironically at the world she's brought this life into, and finally a dying and nearly-insane Jason Robards huddled in the rubble with another old man he doesn't even know, them holding each other and crying hopelessly.  To top this off, the final text on the screen lets us know that, if this were to actually happen in America, the scenes we just saw would actually be much more severe.  So, no, not a movie for eight-year-olds (the debate at the time was whether to show it to children), but certainly for assholes who think that nuclear bombs are the "answer" to anything.  In the end, this movie has a certain amount of "made-for-TV" elements, to be sure, but it ranks up there with Steven Spielberg's Duel as one of the best of those ever made. A

Copyright (c) Nov 2005 by Rusty Likes Movies