Inspired by the heights of our New Years’ Eve VHS Marathon featuring such classics as “Wheels of Terror,” Deplorable Steve and I decided to continue our VHS marathon with “Massive Retaliation,” a 1984 movie about the dangers of nuclear war. As a fan of such films as “Threads,” “Testament,” and “The Day After,” this film was impossible for me to resist. Comparing this film to the other three, how does it stack up?
Well, the setup for all four films is much the same. In all of these films, a nuclear war is imminent, and people prepare. In this one, a group of survivalist families retreat to their bunkers while waiting for other family members, such as Jason Gedrick (from “Iron Eagle” and “The Heavenly Kid”) to arrive. Because of the seriousness of the situation and the graphic nature of the similar TV movies, we anticipate mass nuclear carnage but this flick goes in a different direction. It’s about how nuclear tensions lead to violence. We know we are in heady territory when Bobcat Golthwait, in his first “serious” role, appears and gets in a violent standoff with the other survivalists.
Another memorable thing about this movie is how it shows 1980’s nuclear tensions. But this film’s main strength and weakness are the same: because the nuclear crisis is evaded, the film is to be commended for avoiding cliché but called to the carpet for not being serious or gory enough. It’s not a bad little movie, but it doesn’t live up to the video box. Then again, what could?