The Film (3.5/5)
Legendary actor Ray Milland, who appeared in over one hundred movies and television shows including The Uninvited, Premature Burial, X -The Man with X-ray Eyes, Frogs and much, much more, also directed a few movies. This is the one to seek out. Panic in Year Zero! has Ray Milland starring as Harry Baldwin, the patriarch of the Baldwin family, including wife Ann, played by Jean Hagen (The Asphalt Jungle) son Rick (legendary star Frankie Avalon just before the beach movies), and daughter Karen, played by Mary Mitchel(who was in the legendary cult classic Spider Baby) who are fleeing to safety after a nuclear attack in Los Angeles. Harry drives his family to the mountains to avoid all the looters and killers running rampant in LA. Before reaching the mountains, Harry and his family stop to pick up food, supplies, artillery and other necessities to survive. Harry doesn’t seem to “panic” at all and knows too well what he’s doing, as if he had taken Nuke101 in college or had experienced this situation before.
Panic in Year Zero! Is a very compelling film, with some good thrills and suspense (fifties style), with great performances by all. I loved the mood of the movie, and how Harry and wife Ann had differs of opinions on how to survive and still remain civilized. Watching characters behave toward each other in crisis situation, which people in the real world would behave the same way always makes these films much more interesting. To me the only real drawback was the hip, beatnik score that was used for this film, and as much as I like Les Baxter’s tunes, to me it didn’t feel appropriate for the movie. Fifties beatnik rock just doesn’t blend about a nuclear holocaust film!
Kino release of Panic in Year Zero! is a real revelation. Presented in a 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer, the picture quality is nothing short of spectacular. The image is much brighter than the old MGM Midnite Movie DVD, due to a huge boost in higher resolution. There is so much more detail, a much clearer image for this film than ever before on home video. The picture quality, despite a few areas where there is a little fuzzy/blurry, overall is just outstanding
Audio – Kino as usual, goes with the DTS-HD master 2.0 for its audio, and, I encountered no audio issues. Dialog and music are perfectly sound. In fact, I had to lower my volume than what I normally have it set at due to the music and dialog being booming.
Kino has delivered a few good extras including an audio commentary by film historian Richard Harlan Smith, trailers for more Milland movies such as Panic in Year Zero, X-Ray, the Man With the X-Ray Eyes and Premature Burial, and a roughly ten minute introduction to the film by Joe Dante
This is one terrific package from Kino; Panic in Year Zero! Is a terrific movie which has been given a surprising blu-ray release, and it looks fantastic. Along with some good supplements on top of everything else, I will call this a very highly recommended release and essential to collectors of Ray Milland films and others who love movies from this era.