Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

'The Day After' Was A Scary Thing That Happened 30 Years Ago Today

This was the day back in 1983 where if you were, say, an impressionable ten-year-old boy, you came home from school and watched "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" and did your spelling homework had dinner with your family and then got ready for the broadcast of a TV movie people had been talking about for weeks, the warnings about how disturbing it was going to be only fueling your ten-year-old boy interest in what there had actually been discussions in school over whether or not it should be avoided. Then you sat down and watched what would happen to America if there were a nuclear holocaust. Even though the fear of that kind of annihilation has long since been assuaged by the grim realization that we don't need weapons of mass destruction to eradicate our species when continued overuse of air conditioning and antibiotics will manage to deliver the same result you can still remember some of the more vivid images from the show which, now that you think about it, was way too disturbing for a ten-year-old boy to watch. It was the kind of thing could scar somebody for life in odd, unpredictable ways. But this was also true of "Jennifer Slept Here," which was also on TV that year. Somehow you worked through it.

13 Comments / Post A Comment

LondonLee (#922)

Not as scary as 'Threads' though.

SuperMargie (#1,263)

@LondonLee THANK YOU! I was killing myself trying to remember the name. I was shocked I could ever forget it because that one really messed me up for a while.

LondonLee (#922)

@SuperMargie I watched it again on YouTube recently. Fuck. Still very harrowing.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

Looks like that is Flounder from Animal House at the six second mark.

@Lockheed Ventura Our country has clearly lost the tactical advantage in Kent Dorfman technology that we once held.

@Clarence Rosario I blame Marmalard.

tjedison (#116,805)

It was pretty hair-raising for something on ABC prime-time.

I vividly remember spending the entire next day staring out of the window at school, just expecting to see missiles raining down.

And I didn't even watch the movie that night: my parents believed it was liberal peacenik anti-Cold War propaganda and wouldn't let us watch it. But sneaking peaks at the promos and hearing my classmates talk about it the next day were enough to convince me that the bombing starts in five minutes.

@Clarence Rosario My parents didn't let me watch because they thought it was right-wing, corporatist, deathsploitation designed to keep us afraid and obedient.

Ma.K. (#21,225)

i had practically the same experience as the article; it was the talk of the small Texas town I grew up in. People gathered in churches to watch it, my family watched it at home. I was allowed to watch the first half before bedtime because the next day was a school day. That night when I closed my eyes I could see nuclear clouds in my mind's eye.

carpetblogger (#306)

I didn't watch it (the lead up chatter terrified me too much) but this movie, and when my high school spanish teacher walked into class and said "expect a nuclear war" after KAL was shot down, were pivotal to my understanding of the world in the 1980s.

solmssen (#246,952)

I remember this too – everyone all debating how much it would scar the impressionable youth, but the final message of the film was actually kind of a cheery "we will survive" thing. "Threads" mentioned above was much grimmer, and put the fear in me. But the one of these post-nuclear holocaust films that broke my heart was "Testament" with Jane Alexander. She held the body of a 4 year old Lukas Haas, playing her son, as he shit his insides out from radiation poisoning over a bathroom sink and I'm still not the same, 30 years later. That was the one that stuck.

On the other hand we got to watch Steve Guttenberg slowly die.

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