Nowadays, the threats seem to come from all directions: terrorists, environmental disaster, a faltering economy...it makes you long for the days when the only threat was nuclear annihilation. Okay, maybe not, but if you feel nostalgic for that era of Cold War peril, then Something Weird Video has a nice pair of "Super Science Thrillers" from the early 1960s to entertain you.
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.