8.1/10
33
3 user 3 critic

Shelf Life (1993)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Musical
In 1963, a paranoid middle-class couple locks themselves and their small kids in their nuclear fallout shelter. 30 years later, their oblivious son and two daughters still survive there playing absurd games. A play-based dark comedy.

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Tina
Andrea Stein ...
Pam / Mrs. St. Cloud
...
Scotty / Mr. St. Cloud
...
Various Apparitions
Justin Houchin ...
Young Scotty
...
Young Pam (as Shelby Allison Lindley)
Jazz Britany ...
Young Tina
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Storyline

On November 22, 1963, Mister and Misses St. Cloud hear about the tragic assassination of the President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Consumed with paranoia and believing that WWIII is now inevitable, they take their small children Tina, Pam and Scotty and hide with them in their fallout shelter, never to leave it again. By 1993, the parents had died but their three grownup manchildren still live in the nuclear bomb shelter alone without any human contact. They've developed their own rules and rituals based on their fading memories of the life above, their old records that still work and whatever they catch on TV, when some station's signal reaches them now and then for a few moments. Most of their day is spent in play sessions, in which they act out various common activities like going to school, eating out or staging musical numbers. They love to dance, sing and on occasion wrestle. Sometimes they even play their parents and reenact the parents' speeches to them. At ...

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Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Musical

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Last film directed by Paul Bartel. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Blast from the Past (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Egyptian Fantasy, Part I
Written by Joshua Raoul Brody (as J. Raoul Brody) and Laurie Amat
Performed by Joshua Raoul Brody (as J. Raoul Brody) and Laurie Amat
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User Reviews

 
Great, but not cinematic
15 June 2015 | by (Austin, Tx) – See all my reviews

This is a charming and sometimes uncomfortable play with great and convincing performances, but it cannot overcome being a stage play, and it is not cinematic. Most of Bartel's work is fairly cerebral chaos, and this is no exception. The story goes somewhere, but the camera does not. Lots of angles and the cutting cannot set the camera free of the confines of the fallout shelter.

Think of this as the prequel to "Blast from the Past." Most of the script is the shelter occupants replaying scripts they have written for themselves with snippets of misinterpreted stuff they have got from the outside world. This leaves many fill-in-the-blanks-for-yourself holes in the storyline, which is the source of much of the humor.

If you really like Bartel, you will like this. But if you need everything spoon-fed and all the bundles tied up, this won't be your cup of tea.

Disclaimer: this review is based on a VHR copy of the director's cut which was a gift from the director before it was released on video.


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