The Persistence of the Radioactive Bogeyman


FromĀ Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Since 1950, a noteworthy number of American and European horror movies have used radiation as a plot device. The range of radiation-themed horror movies throughout the past few decades reflects shifting cultural attitudes and political climates.

“…In November 1945, Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy reported the ‘locust-like effects’ of the Red Army, a threat that manifested quite literally inĀ Beginning of the End. As Peter Biskind notes in his 1983 bookĀ Seeing is Believing,Ā the incredible mutations of the early Cold War movies most obviously represented communism: primitive aggressive hordes or emotionless repressive automatons depending on your political philosophy. Either way, in little more than an hour the monster was destroyed and normality restored; a victory for ‘us’ over ‘them.’

With Romero and Roman Polanskiā€™s infamous final Satanā€™s-child scene inĀ Rosemaryā€™s BabyĀ setting the stage in 1968, modern era horror embraced the post-Vietnam/Watergate aesthetic, as the locus of the horror shifted from them to us. While plots are still largely driven by experiments gone awry, authorities are the conspirators, innocent people become the monsters, and nuclear power is just as dangerous as nuclear weaponsā€”a conviction confirmed for some by the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Creature features survive, but they are an increasingly small minority, and in a subtle but important change, the monsters are engineered rather than created by accident.”

Article ā†’Ā­

Support MIA

MIA relies on the support of its readers to exist. Please consider a donation to help us provide news, essays, podcasts and continuing education courses that explore alternatives to the current paradigm of psychiatric care. Your tax-deductible donation will help build aĀ community devoted to creating such change.

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Billing Details

Donation Total: $20 One Time