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  The Day After  
Time Slot:
  Originally aired early 1980s, re-aired Tuesday, May 29, 2001  
  Originally, FOX. Re-aired by The Sci-Fi Channel  
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There are few things that I remember vividly from my childhood. I'll pluck a random fuzzy recollection from the subconscious now and again, but for the most part memories of my earliest life are well and happily repressed. As such, the things that do stand out are made more definitive by the lack of surrounding context. Mostly, these things, the things that stand out in vividly rendered 3-D color, are the things that scared the living bejeezus out of me. A recurring childhood nightmare about a pack of wild, rabid dogs and a phone booth (don't ask), the notion of demonically possessed houses that sent baby pigs to eat little children's souls and send them straight to hell, and the blinding immediate death of the pending nuclear apocalypse.

As you can tell, my childhood fears were driven mostly by TV movies. Except the dogs-and-phone-booth part, which we will not get into at all, thank you very much. But other than that exception, my childhood fears revolved around 1) The Amityville Horror, 2) a similar movie called Burnt Offerings, and 3) Ronald Reagan.

I've gotten over the possessed house thing these days. Reagan (ites) still frightens me beyond belief, though.

So, you see, the first time The Day After aired, it scared me silly. Granted, all of you emo kiddies don't really know the gnawing fear of having a senile, doddering old freak, a man whose best qualification for leading the free world was co-starring with a chimpanzee, holding the keys to your utter annihilation, so you're probably not impressed. But man, at the time, this movie was shit-kicking scary. NATO gets into something it can't get out of over then-divided Berlin/Germany, the CCCP (look it up, you non-historical freaks) gets itchy over it, and then the Minutemen missiles fly.


Watching The Sci-Fi channels' re-broadcast dates the feeling somewhat. Nowadays there's no real fear of the bomb. The CCCP is now just silly old Russia, and the Reaganites are gone....

Wait a minute. Fuck.

Ya know, Kansas is still sitting on enough explosive power to irradiate the entire hemisphere. And somewhere in Kazhikastan there's a pissed off fanatic with enough money to buy one of those silos that pre-Perestroika Russia drilled into their heartlands. And we've got a frat-boy wannabe hovering perilously close to the trigger.

Good lord. I'll be expecting the rabid dogs anytime now.

A five-sponge props shout out over to the Sci-Fi channel for bringing back my deepest terrors, one by one.

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