Atomic War & This Is Not a Test [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Fast dispatch from UK mainland-Watched once & therefore in excellent condition-Two films-"This Is Not a Test" USA 1961 & Yugoslavian film " Atomic War Bride" from 1960-Over one hour of extras including the 1951 classic info film "Duck & Cover"-PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A REGION 1 DISC & A MULTI REGION PLAYER IS REQUIRED TO WATCH THIS DVD
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"This is not a test" from 1962 is apparently considered a classic, but personally, I found it pretty boring, slow paced and uninteresting. The plot is set on an isolated road outside a big city somewhere in California, immediately before the outbreak of a nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. A lone police officer stops everyone who happens to be on the road and forces them inside a cargo truck, where he hopes they will survive the upcoming nuclear blast?!
The cop is incompetent, bureaucratic, rude and slightly sadistic. Since the semi-deserted road is in the middle of "ground zero" (where the missile is assumed to impact), the entire plot strikes me as illogical. Why don't these people run away and take shelter somewhere else...oh, I forgot, the police officer is a Dumkopf. And he's the guy holding a gun. Only two people manage to escape to the mountains, while the rest of California (and I suppose the world) goes under in a cataclysmic nuclear explosion...
Not as exciting as I expected, and hence only two stars.
PS. Apparently, this DVD also contain another film, titled "Atomic War Bride". I haven't seen it, but since it's Yugoslav, I assume it's pornographic. They usually are.
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Now with all that said you might wonder why I give this movie a four star rating if it is that bad. Well honestly I was a devoted fan of Mystery Science Threatre 3000 and that's where I developed my taste for really bad movies. Being autistic I have a mini Tom Servo, Gypsy, Crow and the whole crew in my head making snide remarks as I watch bad movies just like these. My younger brother is autistic too so often we watch these really bad sci-fi movies and make jokes about the people, the cars, the props, the inconsistancies, continuity errors and more.
Atomic War Bride is also a largely forgetable movie except that it is funny to watch. These movies bad as they are reflect the idealized post World War 2 society in the United States. The movies are cheap in price and if you buy these for pure laughs and you have a fertile vile and vulgar imagination these bad B movies make for some fun times. I know how to have fun ripping bad movies to shreds, Tom Servo, Crow and company would be proud of me.
Top billing goes to Atomic War Bride, which is appropriate because it is the better movie. The name makes it sound like a campy '50s sci-fi film, but it's actually something more serious. It's a Yugoslavian picture taking place in an unnamed (but distinctly European) country where perpetually upbeat John is about to marry Maria. As he heads to the wedding, war breaks out, but John's not worried: it'll be over quickly and certainly, no one would use nuclear weapons. The wedding itself is interrupted by an air strike and John is soon impressed into the army. From there things get worse and worse, though John always hopes for the best. This is a surprising effective dark, anti-war satire.
The second feature is This is Not a Test. A sheriff's deputy is asked to put up a road block on an isolated mountain road. It soon becomes clear that a nuclear war has broken out and the deputy will need to take command and set up a survival plan for the mix of people who he's stopped. This has kind of a made-for-TV look to it and is structured more like a play, focusing on dialogue far more than action or effects. Unfortunately, much of the drama seems forced and tedious.
Beyond the movies, the DVD also comes with a number of non-fiction shorts from the 1950s that are rather quaint in their simplistic discussions of how to deal with a nuclear attack. The general message is that it can happen anytime (with the implied message that you can't trust those evil Commies who hate our freedom) and that a little forethought is all that's required to survive (if you're not at ground zero). Radiation, as it turns out, is not all that dangerous and will not hurt most people. There's even criticism of the Japanese, with the implication that more people would have survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki if only they'd had a plan for dealing with nuclear attack. And what Something Weird Video would be complete without a little striptease video with a vaguely Cold War theme?
In short, the highlight of this DVD is Atomic War Bride, but beyond entertainment value, this also offers the viewer a chance to look at the mindset of 1950s Cold War America.
The second filmis a gem called This Is Not A Test. I had seen this on late night television and never forgot it. A gritty, well acted film about several people waiting for the end of the world at a roadblock set up by a local policeman. Great film, great ending!!
The extras are good here as well. I highly recommend this dvd is you like 50's and 60's sci-fi.
Internationally, the were a number of dreary black-and-white movies dealing with the subject. Some were based on famous novels such as "On The Beach." Others, while not exactly addressing nuclear war addressed the larger issues of war and peace. The first version of the book "1984" was a chilling example. And, as others have commented, there were a whole slew of cheesy "B" movies that capitalized on our fears. "The Last Woman On Earth" by Roger Corman comes to mind.
What makes this movie so strikingly notable is that it was filmed in 1960 when the country of "Yugoslavia" was still within the Soviet sphere. Set in an imaginary country, the movie is strongly antiwar, but also is pointing fingers in both directions.
The movie covers a short period of time in the lives of two naïve newlyweds. The young man still believes firmly that if things are explained, common sense will prevail. He is drafted when war breaks out and is very hurriedly trained.
There are some very sarcastic scenes in the movie where the conscripts are classified based on whether they can multiply a couple of numbers successfully or by answering other equally insubstantial questions. Also, a scene where their basic combat training simply involves them flexing their trigger fingers faster and faster is quite telling.
Finally, towards the end of the film, nuclear retaliation strikes their country. The President, caught out in the open dives to the ground and tries to bury his head in the sand. He is also commenting that, based on the polls, this war is everyone's fault because he got 55% of the vote! How very modern.
From a purely cinematic view, the movie is interesting in that the uniforms and weapons were manufactured with fairly high production values of the day. Aside from some of the facial characteristics of Eastern Europeans, it would be difficult to tell where the film was made. The English dubbing is much better than expected. I am only surprised at the communist government gave its imprimatur to the making of this film. There are no red stars or Lenin busts to be seen.
And one final observation: (and this is kind of a spoiler) in the last few minutes of the film the bride and groom return to their apartment which is in rubble. They were also caught in the open and a good portion of their clothes were blown off. It is interesting that both the bride and groom lost predominantly the bottom half of their clothes. The groom has no pants and tattered underclothes. The bride's white dress is essentially gone from just below the waist down. The bride is very close to being exposed in her private area. This was not done to titillate.
In most films, after whatever blast happens the top half of the clothes are torn or burned. Think Bruce Willis in any Die Hard film, for example. I suspect the symbolism here is that their sense of pride and propriety and dignity have also been destroyed.
So, if you want to get really depressed, think of this movie as a "prequel" to 1984, On The Beach for any of the other mushroom cloud movies. Still, a remarkable film that has been nearly forgotten.