The Day After (1983)

“Hey, I can see my house from—oh, crap”

From We Belong Dead, Issue 31, published 2022

If you live in a place like New York or Tokyo, you’re used to seeing your hometown destroyed on screen. It’s a slow year if the Statue of Liberty isn’t decapitated in at least one movie.

I’ve spent most of my life in Kansas City, a mellow Midwestern town that’s often overlooked in popular culture. Except that one time in 1983, when we got obliterated in a nuclear war.

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Panic in Year Zero! (1962)

From Spotlight on Science Fiction, published 2022

Without the title card, the beginning of Panic in Year Zero! could be mistaken for a family road trip comedy. It has a hip jazz score by Les Baxter and features a long-married couple who tease and flirt with each other while their teenage kids complain about being stuck in the car all day.

But as they leave Los Angeles and head to their mountain camping spot, they see a blinding flash of light. Then another. Then a mushroom cloud over the city.

The groovy music sticks around. The happy family doesn’t.

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Before the Living Dead: Zombie Cinema Pre-Romero

From We Belong Dead, Issue 24, published 2021

Ask anyone to define “zombie” and you’ll probably get the same answer: A dead person, reanimated, hungry for human flesh. After more than 50 years of pop culture saturation, it’s hard to imagine another response. Such is the influence of George A. Romero’s 1968 masterpiece Night of the Living Dead.

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The Ghosts of Favorites Past

Since I’m only seeing movies when/if I want to now, I’m not feeling qualified to pick a Top Ten this year. Instead, I’m going to fill in my review archives with some choices from previous years. First up is a great noir from J.C. Chandor that didn’t get nearly enough attention when it came out in 2014 (locally in 2015).

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