Panic in Year Zero: A Post-Apocalyptic Father Knows Best

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 5, 2009 in Cinema, Horror |

Panic in Year Zero: Film Poster from 1962

This is where science fiction ends and fact begins! On this day in 1962 the post-apocalyptic film Panic in Year Zero opened. The film was directed by Ray Milland and also stars him in the lead role of Harry Baldwin, a man who takes his family out on a simple fishing trip only to find out that that loud noise that they heard was the destruction of Los Angles by a nuclear attack. But it turns out that radiation sickness, looters and killers are the real issues of the day — what’s makes you civilized is the ability for a man to get a decent shave:

Ray’s unfazed wife in the film is played by Jean Hagen who is best remembered for her as the silent-film star in Singin’ in the Rain from 1952. And even more interesting is Ray’s son is played by teen idol Frankie Avalon who would go on to make all of those cute beach blanket films later in the 60s.

The film was produced by American International Pictures which was infamous for making so many other cult classic flicks from I Was a Teenage Frankenstein to The Raven. Now while one might make fun of the low budget camp factor one could say that the theme of a family being threatened on the road by post-apocalyptic hooligans was done years before the Mad Max films picked up on the same theme. Here’s the trailer which sort of reminds me of Father Knows Best kitbashed with The Road Warrior:

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