31 in 31 – “Threads”

“Everybody alright?”

Story: Ruth and Ritchie are getting married! Mazel! (Okay so Ruth’s preggers, but the very young couple would have gotten around to marriage soon enough.) Then things start getting weird in the world, with talks of nuclear war. Soon, bombs are dropping, and things are more than weird, they’re straight up horrifying. Will Ruth and her unborn baby survive? Will anyone?

Scares: After the bombs, the whole film is a nightmare.

Splat factor: Lots and lots and LOTS of dead bodies. Radiation sickness. Rioters gunned down in the street. Yeah.

Closing scene “shocker”?: Nope. You’ll be too emotionally wiped to be shocked by anything at that point.

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Original, but based on actual research on the effects of a nuclear war. *shudders*

Trick or Treat?: Want something that’ll completely freak you out, and destroy those last few nerves 2020 hasn’t already twanged? Threads is for you. This 1984 television thriller from the BBC shows viewers brave enough to watch how bad a nuclear war can get, and it’s horrifying. Have your favorite Wubbie nearby, you’ll need it.

As this film was shot in 1984, you’ll hear talk of East Germany and the USSR. Yet the idea of mutually assured destruction can’t be laughed away in the 21st century; not with the news we see daily, from many countries including ours. But Threads will still send chills down your spine, thanks to the unflinching cinematography, direction, and incredible performances from the ensemble cast.

Throughout the show there’s a text scrawl that shows up from time to time, at first simply showing the date. Then it describes Sheffield, and how it’s a major producer of chemicals… Later, it gives viewers “updates” on fallout, and how England is doing. (Spoiler: not well at all.)

The immediate effect of the nuclear blasts are grim. A bicyclist melting in a tree. Cats rolling around on the street. A skeleton blackened, yet still on fire. Supermarkets covered in melted butter from the dairy section. It goes on and on for several minutes, so viewers can be properly freaked out. The makeup FX are gruesomely effective, from radiation burns to blood and soot. Blood, pus, and grue fill the screen, spilling over everything.

The voice of an announcer comes on occasionally, his matter-of-fact tone holding no hope for good news, only cold hard facts. Diseases, lack of food, looting, rats, not enough healthy(ish) people nor fuel available to bury the bodies. And everyone’s starving. JFC I need a drink. Maybe several.

Threads pulls no punches, softens nothing, coddles no one. I’m sure many of you are wondering why I’m covering a dramatic thriller as a “31 in 31” pick. But believe me, it’ll scare the pants off of you, if you have any survival instinct at all.

Watch this one if you dare…and have something fun to watch immediately after. I went with lots and lots of Margaret Cho stand-up.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 pumpkins.

About Denise

Professional nerd. Lover of licorice.
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