Panic in Year Zero! (1962) End Of The World, Jazz Jive and Beatnik Baddies

Panic In Year Zero (1962) poster ray milland

Bonkers brilliant B-movie, Cold War, end of the world bonanza with sassy jazz jive and bad boy beatniks. Oh how much did I enjoy this crazy panic in the Year Zero.


Panic In Year Zero (1962) opening titles credits car stereoPanic In Year Zero (1962) poster ray milland car drive nuclear attack

What is it and these Hollywood actors wanting to bring apocalyptic mayhem to the screen? L Q Jones gave us the future doomed Earth in his twisted up tale, A Boy and His Dog. Then we have Cornel Wilde’s take on a very seventies Britain ravished by virus and pandemonium in No Blade Of Grass. Then I get to see Hitchcock actor Ray Milland unleash a swinging sixties nuclear attack and the fundamental breakdown in society. One thing they all have in common is, depression and despair but push that little thing to the side and you have some top deranged and barmy fun entertainment.

Panic In Year Zero (1962) family camping under a radioactive sky

Not content on just directing the movie Ray Milland takes the lead role as no nonsense Dad, Harry Baldwin. Now Harry decides to take a small family trip up the mountain for a bit of fishing. Bringing his doting wife Ann (Jean Hagen) and two mid teen children Karen (Mary Mitchel) and Rick (singer Frankie Avalon). As they reach the outskirts of the city a series of baffling flashes take over the skies. Harry has his suspicions as he looks in the rear view mirror, the worst has happened, home has been hit by the start of a nuclear attack.

Panic In Year Zero (1962) nuclear fall out flash bomb

Lucky for his family, Harry is head strong and goes straight into survival mode, getting things in motion before all hell breaks loose. Now that means they need supplies of food and medicines, fuel and guns. Then a destination to hide out the months with the hope of everything getting back to normal. Wishful thinking, Harry knows as he tunes into news report broadcasts on the radio that things will get worse. It will be a long time if ever that they get back to normal with this atomic war.

Panic In Year Zero (1962) poster ray milland punch gun steal robPanic In Year Zero (1962) social breakdown

Can Harry guide his family through the carnage and peril which approaches them from all angles. Whether it is finding a safe haven, fighting against everyday people to fending off young thugs with their very own stabs of jazz soundtrack. Throw in murder, rape and rampage you get another slice of riotous post apocalyptic lawlessness.

Panic In Year Zero (1962) motorway highway fire blockPanic In Year Zero (1962) ray milland and Frankie Avalon

A Few Random Observations

  • The soundtrack is by composer Les Baxter who did the arrangements for tons of film scores through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s with many being for the legendary Roger Corman, like The Raven, X The Man With X-ray Eyes, House Of Usher and The Pit and The Pendulum to name just a few.
  • The busy highway and the petrol fire wall is a really intense scene and well worth looking out for.
  • All singing all dancing Frankie Avalon was a big teen idol as well as an actor. Even in the UK he was well known but for the life of me I’m not sure what I remember him from, he did pop up in a lot of stuff.
  • The dialogue is really fun, featuring ridiculous quotes and statements with a dash of joyous 60’s jargon. See below.

Panic In Year Zero (1962) beatniks thugs hoodlums

Thug 1 – “We’re the new highway patrol”
Thug 2 (Looking stoned) “Somebody dropped the bomb.. dad… Crazy kicks hey!”

Harry Baldwin – “Lets keep things normal…. And shave everyday”

Harry Baldwin – “Scrap the scabs off, pile enough disinfectant, there a chance civilisation might recover!”

Rick Baldwin – “There’s nothing like eating under the open sky… even if it is radioactive.”

If you get a chance to watch this crazy non-stop ride I very much recommend it. It doesn’t hold back at all, one situation after another giving you an exciting 90 minutes of anarchy. Have you seen it? What did you think?

Stock up on loads of food and beer, relax on your lazy boy chair, press play on the video player and ride out the atomic storm. Take it easy, Wolfman.

Panic In Year Zero (1962) poster ray milland 2

9 thoughts on “Panic in Year Zero! (1962) End Of The World, Jazz Jive and Beatnik Baddies

  1. This sounds hysterical! I love me some Ray Milland, so I will have to try and track this one down. Sure sounds like there’s some priceless dialogue to enjoy here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He really good isn’t he. I’m slowly making my way through all the films of his I have missed through the years. He’s been a busy boy. Panic is a great piece of entertainment if you get to see it and dare I say without being too cheesy , the dialogue is a “blast” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • He sure is. If you haven’t seen them I recommend the following Milland flicks. The River’s Edge. The Lost Weekend. The Major and the Minor. Dial M For Murder. The Uninvited. The Big Clock. The Thief. If you are in need of a good laugh, you simply must watch The Thing With Two Heads 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Superb recommendations there Maddy. “The Lost Weekend” and “The Big Clock” have been waiting for the play button to be pushed for a some time. I didn’t know “The River’s Edge” or “The Thief” (very excited about this one as I love a good cold war drama)and “The Uninvited” sounds brilliant. You know what I watched “Dial M For Murder” for the first time a few weeks back. OH how wonderful was that, Chief Inspector Hubbard was incredible how I enjoyed that….. I’ve been waiting for the right time to indulge myself in “The Thing With Two Heads”. It’s looks a total riot of laughs. Can’t wait to get on them all. Many thanks

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said about Milland, Jones and Wilde. This one just needs some zombies added in to the mix. Maybe the young thugs should have been recast as the undead. Milland was nearing those cranky roles I love to poke fun at shortly after this. Frankie Avalon will forever be identified with the Beach Party films I suppose. Can’t name a hit song though I suppose he had some chart success.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very right those young thugs could easy stand in for zombies. I’ve been very much enjoying your take on Milland and his cantankerous ways, they are definitely starting to brew up here ready to be unleashed on u in future films. lol

      Liked by 1 person

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