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A Guide To Armageddon
April 14, 2008 12:47 PM   Subscribe

A Guide To Armageddon: 1, 2, 3 (YouTube) This 1982 documentary morbidly simulates the effects of a nuclear attack on a city the size of London.

A few years later, director Mick Jackson would go on to make The Bodyguard.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] (28 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Insert obligatory mention of Threads, also Mick Jackson's work and the reason why I will not be watching this documentary—one week of sleepless nights was enough for me.
posted by chrominance at 12:49 PM on April 14, 2008


And on a lighter note, don't forget to Protect and Survive.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:58 PM on April 14, 2008


I spent my entire childhood waiting to be morbidly nuked.
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh god, yeah, definitely this goes hand in hand with Threads. Seconding chrominance on that one. Which I saw and it gave me nightmares for weeks, I cried after watching it, and believed with all my heart I would probably die from radiation sickness or be eaten by wandering gangs from age 11 to age 15. The cold war fears could really give our modern terrorism scares a run for their money.

Anyone who hasn't seen this should really watch Threads, too.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:05 PM on April 14, 2008


I needed a hug after I saw Threads.
posted by Artw at 1:08 PM on April 14, 2008


I spent my entire childhood waiting to be morbidly nuked.

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
London is drowning-and I live by the river
posted by three blind mice at 1:30 PM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Threads.

Threads.

Whooooooh.

Even now 23 years after seeing it one time only I freeze up for a bit thinking of it.

I grew up in the 80s in a suburb of Omaha called Bellevue, which is where the Air Force's Strategic Air Command is located. This pretty much put us on the First 3 Targets list. Im not sure if I should have found that comforting or not.

I remember that as a kid then, it really wasnt at all a question of "if", but a question of "when."
Nuclear war was coming at any time, and even if you got through that, you had the hell-on-Earth of the aftermath to deal with.

At the time, this was just the reality of the world, but given a couple of decades of perspective I cant tell you how seethingly angry it makes me that a generation (generations really) of kids were forced to endure that kind of trauma. And yes, I realize the heady weight of throwing the word "trauma" around and I think it fits. Me and all my friends, we would have horrific nuclear war nightmares at least a couple times a week. Obsessing about evacuation routes, fallout shelters, nervously scrutinizing every plane's vapor trail you see, getting anxious every time a TV station seems to take a bit too long to come back between commericals.....Makes me so...god....damn...angry.

I remember my parents not allowing me to watch The Day After (I was nine) when it aired in 1983, so when Threads played (so far as I know only once in the US) on TBS on a Sunday morning, January 1985, I made sure that it went under my parents radar. So there I am, barely 11, watching this thing from beneath a blanket on our living room floor, watching from between squinted eyes when things got to be too much. I can still vivdly remember huge chunks of it now. I cant imagine what it would have been like over in England, where I hear it ran on a Sunday night in prime time.

Anecdote: I recently learned that (pre-batshit) Ted Turner was so moved by Threads that he bought the rights and ran it fully on his own dime, no commericals.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:33 PM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's hard-core reality television.... 'so you are going to be living in a hole in the ground, shitting in a bucket'

I remember this being on the first time... I don't think it made that much of a difference to the general fear levels at the time.

Unlike Threads, which really hit hard. And the War Game, which is, if anything, even worse.

I watched them again recently and they are still very grim.

They 80s: Rick Astley, Rubic's Cubes, day-glo socks and expecting megatonnes of fiery horror to rain down any second, what a great decade!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:42 PM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I love the idea of living long enough to see Armageddon, so this post is awesome, and now I need to see Threads.

For some reason as a kid I never had that fear of the inevitable nuclear strike, maybe I was too young, or MAYBE I was too busy eating dirt/playing with bugs. Probably the latter.

whitneyhouston? wha?
posted by sir_rubixalot at 1:52 PM on April 14, 2008


Oh.. WHITNEYHOUSTON, I'm an idiot...
posted by sir_rubixalot at 1:53 PM on April 14, 2008


Ironically, Whitney Houston's current physical state is a pretty good illustration of the long-term effects of low level radiation exposure.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:59 PM on April 14, 2008


dear god.
posted by 6am at 3:01 PM on April 14, 2008


Like others in this, I think I'm going to skip watching this, since I'm still traumatized by The Day After and Threads. For a high school play workshop in...1983, maybe, we created a short one-act about getting nuked (this was in Boston).

Whoo boy, the 80s were fun!
posted by rtha at 4:02 PM on April 14, 2008


On the other hand, unsafe sex and hard drugs makes TONS more sense with the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over your head.

"Duck...and cover!"
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:41 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


unsafe sex and hard drugs

yeah, but in the slim chance there wasn't nuclear armageddon.... then there was that great big iceberg of AIDS!!!!!!!! out to get yeah. I heart the 80s!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:18 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I spent my entire childhood waiting to be morbidly nuked.


I'm still waiting.
posted by ninazer0 at 6:43 PM on April 14, 2008


Thanks for the nightmare fuel, [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST].

For more fun, visit the Federation of American Scientists' site to gauge the effects of a nuclear blast (different/better version here) and calculate the distribution of fallout.

There's also City on Fire, which describes the effects of a 300 KT nuke on DC.
posted by cog_nate at 7:13 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Argh. Dance 'till the bombs drop. The 80s.

And Threads. All my childhood nightmares rolled into one.

My ex didn't have a TV back then, but said he could tell who among his friends had watched Threads when it aired one night in the mid Eighties (on CBC, of course, not on any American station) because of the way they were acting the next day: grim, haunted, and afraid.

I saw it once, and there are still scenes burned into my memory. We really did expect the world to go end in nuclear explosions at any minute.
posted by jokeefe at 8:19 PM on April 14, 2008


Wow. Even though I lived through the Cold War '80s (and my heart still stops if the network news breaks in with a special report...), I'd never heard of Threads until this post. It's on YouTube in 13 parts. And it's horrible.
posted by hwyengr at 10:44 PM on April 14, 2008


hwyengr, its on Google Video in one horrific piece

Clicky
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:46 PM on April 14, 2008


Senor Cardgage: I cant imagine what it would have been like over in England, where I hear it ran on a Sunday night in prime time.

Threads was shown to kids at school in England, parental permission not required. That's how I first saw it anyway.
posted by vbfg at 2:43 AM on April 15, 2008


The War Game is on Google Video too.
posted by ninebelow at 5:19 AM on April 15, 2008


Kids today think they got it so tough with their GWOT....they don't know the meaning of terror. They don't wake up sweating from the fourth everybody's-skin-melted-when-the-bomb-dropped dream of the week. Terror! Bah!

grumble grumble grumble my lawn, get off etc.
-----

I'm sort of joking about it and sort of not. I'm assuming that high-school-age kids (in the U.S., at least) today aren't having nightmares about roadside bombs or whatever the iconic weapon of terrorism is, but I don't really know. I figure that one of the reasons - the main reason? - that the Cold War of the 1980s was so profoundly terrifying for a lot of us is precisely because we were adolescents, when everything is magnified anyway. And the cultural stuff has clearly stuck with a lot of us. But I have no sense of if anything similar is happening for today's 11-17-year-olds.
posted by rtha at 5:47 AM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't forget Testament, which, to my mind, is even more affecting than Threads. Fair warning: after seeing Testament, you will never be able to forget it.
posted by scrump at 8:19 AM on April 15, 2008


I figure that one of the reasons - the main reason? - that the Cold War of the 1980s was so profoundly terrifying for a lot of us is precisely because we were adolescents, when everything is magnified anyway. And the cultural stuff has clearly stuck with a lot of us. But I have no sense of if anything similar is happening for today's 11-17-year-olds.

As the parent of a 13 year old, I tend to think that there is no such thing for them. I recall watching Threads and the Day After when I was a kid - and the nightmares of nuclear war all too well. But I also recall that the cold war permeated the culture in ways that the Global War on Whatever-it-is-they're-calling-it-these-days just does not.

I mean, there were movies - the Mad Max series, Wargames, Firefox, Red Dawn, etc. etc. There were songs, comic books, even kid's cartoons postulated a nuclear destruction (Thundarr, I think was one). It was on the news nearly constantly with anti-nuclear protesters carrying on somewhere, or that Doomsday clock. You have to look pretty hard to find a "fallout shelter" sign anymore, I recall that they were all over the place before.

My son and his friends just don't think about terrorism in the same way that we thought about nuclear annihilation. It's not a threat on the same scale. It doesn't permeate the culture, and nearly all of it happens to far away people in far away places and even if it happened nearby it wouldn't mean the end of everything you knew so far.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:45 AM on April 15, 2008


I fear I will never forget the cut at around 1:15 in Part 2 between the image of an old woman in profile and a pumpkin being pulverized into pulp by shattered glass.

Good grief.
posted by Nathaniel W at 11:17 AM on April 16, 2008


Kids are scared of global warming the same way global war scared kids 20 years back
posted by joelf at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2008


A few years after seeing Threads I went to university in Sheffield (where Threads is set)... IT was more than slightly weird to stand in the actual streets that I seem mushroom clouds looming over. Of course plentiful pints of Tetley (the beer not the tea) took away the fear.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:58 AM on April 18, 2008


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