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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.51%
Average: 21.95%
Pretty Bad: 19.51%
Total Crap: 7.32%

2 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Day After, The
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by Slyder

"Effective yet awfully dated"
3 stars

The Day After is one of the few American movies which dealt with the Nuclear Holocaust effectively and raised so much controversy especially at the time that it was released that the broadcasting network ABC had to set an 800 phone line to calm people down as well as President Ronald Reagan reaming on their asses and force them to edit the film. Nowadays, it has aged quite badly and the cracks are showing, but still, it remains quite an interesting flick to sit through.

The flick is all a supposition of what would happen if there was a nuclear war and the effects it would have on the city and its townspeople, in this case the vicinity of Kansas City and Lawrence, Kansas; the prelude before the bombs hit, the climaxing moment when the bombs finally hit and the aftermath are depicted in this film. There’s only a problem, or a couple of problems.

First of all, the whole set-up for the prelude is atrocious. It introduces us to several characters, a doctor and his wife, a rural family, a college professor, and a military base soldier who’s checking along with a crew the status of the nuclear weapons; none of these characters are in anyway in particular remotely interesting, and at times they’re rather boring. One could argue that they’re just plot devices in order to set us up for when the time comes and the missiles fly off and when they fall and blow everyone to hell. Point taken, but still, they must at least have a certain dimension or roundness to them instead of being mere cardboard cutouts. While I was watching this I wondered aloud if the movie would’ve been a lot more differently had it focused on the political intrigue of it all instead of focusing on the dull lives of these people.

When the climatic moment comes, we finally see the missiles going up and the tension mounts as we wait for the destruction to start. The problem is that 1) the whole outcome is too predictable and 2) the FX used for the exploding nuclear bombs are laughably bad. The mushroom clouds have this reddish color and it’s imposed in what looks like a freeze-frame photograph of the country-side and it looks so obvious that in that very moment of panic, I felt more like laughing than actually buying this shit. The whole fiery effects are lame, and the already famous footage of nuclear blast destroying houses and shit has been used a gazillion times you’ll find it hard to buy that it IS Lawrence, Kansas.

The aftermath is probably the most accurate depiction of the film and possibly its saving grace since it offers quite a view on nuclear winter and the endless barrage of radiation that would scourge the places that have been hit by nuclear weapons. The whole radiation sickness is well-examined, as well as the mass hysteria as countless people live in groups and live by the barrel of the gun, and last but not least, the hypocrisy of the government in these types of situations (Ronald Reagan, George Bush Jr., eat your hearts out). And it would’ve been more effective if it weren’t for the one-dimensional characters that this movie has as well as the whole sanitized look of the film. The obvious air of grief is eminent but is constantly hampered by the one-dimensionality of the characters that the film portrays, you can’t feel any emotion from the characters inflicted by the radiation sickness (I was waiting for Rush’s “I think I’m going Bald” to play when the characters went bald due to the radiation) and rather feel more annoyance than ever before (like that stupid girl who gets out of the basement and into the radiation filled air). The whole sanitized look of the film is to be expected since it’s a damn TV movie; otherwise the expected charred masses of dead people or animals would be all over the place. But then again, what about the whole “nuclear winter” shit? Or the mutant and deformed babies? Or why is it that several of the cast manage to survive the whole catastrophe without a scratch?

I applaud director Nicholas Meyer and writer Edward Hume for their attempt at raising awareness at what would happen if a nuclear catastrophe, but they should’ve focused more in actually making a thoroughly developed movie rather than just cashing in on the paranoia and showing a one-sided, flat and at times boring scenario which the only highlight is the destruction of Kansas and nothing else. I can understand the depressing tone at the end since no one will survive a nuclear catastrophe like this, but I was never emotionally connected; by films end, my dad had fallen asleep and I pretty much didn’t care. But then its typical of TV movies, rarely there’s a TV movie which is actually good and the majority of them are utter shit.

And why is it that the Russians always have to shoot first? Why can’t the USA be the ones to shoot first? Ah yes, they’re the evil empire and we’re the people whom in God we trust, right? If you feel any sense of curiosity, go watch this film though be prepared for the rough patches it has, and maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did. Personally, it was a noble effort but as time goes by it comes off as mediocre and amateurish. Go and see Threads instead, at least that one was more realistic than this flick. 2.5-5

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originally posted: 11/07/04 12:02:48
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User Comments

10/06/09 Fatin Give please. There is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmuted into wisdom, which, if it 1 stars
1/30/08 radio1 Testament. Threads. The Day After. All are effective. Esp. if viewed during the cold war. 5 stars
12/22/07 deepexit This film is scary, period. Not as gory as 'Threads' but you GET THE POINT. Good enuff 4 me 4 stars
7/14/07 Sugarfoot Testament did this story far better. Often melodramatic and over the top. 2 stars
7/03/07 David Cohen Badly overhyped second rate horror movie 3 stars
3/07/07 David Pollastrini scared the hell outr of me! 5 stars
11/28/06 Booksworm Sometimes a little boring,but a whole lot more frightening than any horror movie 4 stars
3/10/06 great very intense and powerful film, i must see Threads now, i hear thats even better. 5 stars
1/19/06 Lars-OLof Marklund The very best sci/war movie ever made. 5 stars
1/03/06 cody good destruction picture for it day, story was good, the rest was either dull or melodrama 3 stars
11/23/04 Mr Regular So some of you think the bomb F/X weren't graphic enough? Where were YOU on 9/11? 4 stars
6/10/04 A Reader Plays like a bad Irwin Allen movie next to "Threads," but was a TV mega-event in its day. 4 stars
5/18/04 Matt This movie was a little off on what really would happen, but i thought it was great! 5 stars
4/30/04 airborneranger this movie reflected the thoughts and fears of an entire generation on nuclear war. 4 stars
3/23/04 Trannon Goble I love it! 5 stars
2/17/04 Shameequala "Jesus Christ they've done it...they've really done it" - Threads, BBC 1984. Says it all. 3 stars
9/26/03 richard d good movie but it's not threads. 4 stars
6/11/03 Mystique AWESOME 5 stars
4/22/03 Daryl Carpenter Sanitized pap; Watch "Threads" instrad 2 stars
12/23/02 Robert THREADS (1984) ran big circles around The day after... 4 stars
10/30/02 Charles Tatum More Cold War paranoia 1 stars
9/17/01 brit After 9-11-02 this movie must be viewed to understand any realm of war we might be entering 5 stars
6/02/01 Jim This was a truly epic movie of shitty perportions 1 stars
6/01/01 BrainPan I remember this scaring the shit out of me as a little kid. 4 stars
5/30/01 Jason Culman The event of an American fallout never seemed so close to home until watching this movie. 5 stars
5/30/01 Jane Doe Disturbing 5 stars
2/17/01 JHawkBCD Fucking Awesome 5 stars
12/04/00 i sterne excellent for classroom use 5 stars
1/26/00 deb frightening 5 stars
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  02-Jul-1983 (PG)
  DVD: 18-May-2004

  02-Feb-1984 (12)

  02-Feb-1984 (PG)

Directed by
  Nicholas Meyer

Written by
  Edward Hume

  John Lithgow
  Amy Madigan
  Lori Lethin
  Bibi Besch
  Steve Guttenberg
  Jeff East

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