Throughout the second half of the 20th century, one terror stood head and shoulders above any others. Post-World War II, we werent concerned with the potential rise of another planet-striding army, or the eradication of a whole race in a new holocaust. No, the new Hitler wasnt the problem it was the bomb, the horror the Allies had inflicted upon the world to stop the war. Thats the premise to a classic science fiction horror story in itself: the weapon we used to destroy the monster became the new monster, science unleashed. But as time went on, a kind of bored dread became the watchword of the Cold War. Nuclear proliferation and the passive-aggressive nature of the intrigue between nations made it a horrifying waiting game. After all, the acronym for the outcome of a nuclear war was M.A.D. Mutually Assured Destruction. The spectre of a nuclear holocaust may have loomed over forty years of the 20th century, but it didnt impinge much on cinema. It was present in our lives whod want to watch a film about it? Anyone who survived the bombs falling would have to deal with centuries of radiation sickness, environmental collapse and the fall of government. The few movies that dealt directly with the subject of the people on the ground were cheerless drones like Miracle Mile, Where The Wind Blows or Testament, while the political movies (By Dawns Early Light, Dr. Strangelove, War Games, Fail Safe) all seemed to agree that we were utterly doomed, usually because madmen and idiots were in charge. The best movies that dealt with the aftermath of M.A.D. didnt deal with it at all: The Time Machine and Planet Of The Apes sent their protagonists far into the future to witness what happened to the world and to mankind after the destruction of the world, skipping the boring bit in the middle. Either way, everyone seems to agree: nearly everyone dies instantly, and those who are left lead short, horrible lives and the apes inherit the earth. Its not brutal, so much as utterly pointless.
Professional writer, punk werewolf and nesting place for starfish. Obsessed with squid, spirals and story. I publish short weird fiction online at desincarne.com, and tweet nonsense under the name Jack The Bodiless. You can follow me all you like, just don't touch my stuff.