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Cast / Characters

Ray Milland as Harry Baldwin
Jean Hagen as Ann Baldwin
Frankie Avalon as Rick Baldwin, son
Mary Mitchel as Karen Baldwin, daughter
Joan Freeman as Marilyn Hayes
Richard Bakalyan as Carl
Rex Holman as Mickey
Richard Garland as Ed Johnson
Willis Bouchey as Dr. Powell Strong
Neil Nephew as Andy
O.Z. Whitehead as Hogan
Russ Bender as Harkness
Shary Marshall as Bobbie Johnson


Michael Atkinson, the film critic for The Village Voice, liked the film and wrote, "This forgotten, saber-toothed 1962 AIP cheapie might be the most expressive on-the-ground nightmare of the Cold War era.

Providing a template not only for countless social-breakdown genre flicks (most particularly, Michael Haneke's Time of the Wolf) but also for authentic crisis—shades of New Orleans haunt its DVD margins...the movie is nevertheless an anxious, detail-rich essay on moral collapse."

Glenn Erickson writes, in his DVD Savant review, "Panic In Year Zero! scrupulously avoids any scenes requiring more than minimalist production values yet still delivers on its promise, allowing audience imagination to expand upon the narrow scope of what's actually on the screen.

It sure seemed shocking in 1962, and easily trumped other more pacifistic efforts. The Day the Earth Caught Fire was for budding flower people; Panic In Year Zero! could have been made as a sales booster for the gun industry."

Film critic Dennis Schwartz discussed the film's theme and philosophy, "This was the first film Ray Milland directed. A modern audience would have no trouble identifying with its pessimistic treatment of humanity and the frightening possibility of what a nuclear attack could do.

We live in a time of terrorists and the scenario presented onscreen is not that far fetched from the realm of possibilities. The only thing that was hard to fully approve of in Panic in Year Zero!, was Milland's selfish philosophy for survival—it was simply not a very human one.

It was a narrow philosophy that did not give him the high moral ground over the looters, who also recognized it was a dog-eat-dog world and they must also look out only for Number One. But if everyone behaved like that, the world would indeed be a place of anarchy and hell.

Otherwise this rather grim tale acted in a satisfying but desultory manner, in pointing out what realistically might happen in such a catastrophe.

Its theme as stated by Milland is: 'I’ll return when civilization becomes civilized again.'" Schwartz's first line is incorrect; Milland first directed 1955's A Man Alone followed by two other feature films later in the 1950s, Lisbon and The Safecracker.




Resources: Wikipedia.org, imdb.com





Panic in the Year Zero 1962

Soon after Harry Baldwin (Ray Milland), his wife Ann (Jean Hagen), their son Rick (Frankie Avalon), and daughter Karen (Mary Mitchell) leave suburban Los Angeles on a camping trip, the Baldwins note unusually bright light flashes coming from a great distance.


Sporadic news reports on CONELRAD broadcasts hint at the start of a thermonuclear war, which is confirmed as the Baldwins see a large mushroom cloud over what was Los Angeles.


The family initially attempts to return to rescue Ann's mother near Los Angeles, but soon abandons these plans as panicked refugees climb over one another to escape the fallout from the multiple nuclear explosions. Witnessing the threads of society being torn apart, Harry decides that the family must find refuge at their secluded vacation spot.


Along the way, they stop to buy supplies, or, in the case of hardware store owner Ed Johnson (Richard Garland), take them by force when he won't accept a check. They also encounter three threatening young hoodlums, Carl (Richard Bakalyan), Mickey (Rex Holman), and Andy (Neil Nephew), on the road, but manage to drive them off.


After a harrowing journey, the Baldwins reach their destination, finding shelter in a cave while they wait for order to be restored. They find that Johnson and his wife are their neighbors - but not for long. The three thugs appear and shoot them. A farming couple suffers the same fate and their teenage daughter, Marilyn (Joan Freeman) is kept as a sex slave.


Karen is also raped when Mickey and Andy happen upon her. With guns in hand, the Baldwin men fight back, killing the two murderers and freeing Marilyn. When Carl returns, he is killed as well, but Rick is seriously wounded.


With Marilyn's help, they get the young man to Doctor Strong (Willis Bouchey). The doctor does what he can, but the boy needs to get to an army hospital over a hundred miles (160 km) away for a blood transfusion or he will die. On their drive there, they encounter a military patrol, scouting for the army that is reestablishing order. After a tense meeting, they are allowed to continue.




Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Main

1916 to 1964

1965 to 1981

1995 to 1998

2004 to 2008

2009 to 2010

2011 to Present



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