Threads (TV Movie 1984) Poster

(1984 TV Movie)

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Absolutely terrifying, utterly disturbing. (Spoilers)
charlieboy809 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Having just purchased this on DVD I was eager to watch it after waiting years to see it after it was unofficially banned from ever being shown on the BBC again. I was four when it was first shown and my parents switched it off, too frightened to watch it themselves never mind let me see it.

I have to say it is absolutely terrifying and utterly terrifying in the extreme. This could have actually happened! I was impressed by the way the film conveyed what it would be like if thousands of megatons of atomic bomb was dropped on the U.K. Normal life comes to an abrupt stop. One minute people are shopping in their local supermarket, going to the pub and wallpapering their new flat and suddenly they are plunged into Hell. Civilisation is blown back into the stone age.

The most scary part was the way the authorities were shown unable to cope with the scale of the attack (perhaps why the BBC never aired it again). We always think that it could never be that bad because someone would come to our rescue, someone would maintain control. But no, the bombs / missiles keep raining down and down prompting one traumatised emergency committee member to scream, "not another one!" They just did not expect so devastation and are completely helpless. Later soldiers shoot people for food, people wish for death and the emergency committee, those meant to be running things, die in the supposed protective bunker, trapped by rubble.

Ten years later, nothing is back to normal. What young people there are behave like wild animals, raping and fighting and speaking in a bizarre caveman manner.

Since the Cold War ended people have stopped being frightened of nuclear weapons. Everybody in every country should watch this film and realise that if there ever was a nuclear war, still possible with growing tensions between a superpower and its rivals, those left alive would wish they had been caught in the blasts and killed outright.

I don't recommend this for sensitive viewers.
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It hits you with both fists!
Baroque23 August 2001
This is perhaps one of the most masochistic films ever made. You are taken into the personal world of two British families in Sheffield (site of a major NATO installation), who have children that are about to be married. Thousands of miles away, World War 3 slowly starts, and the ultimate horror happens. Thermonuclear war breaks out. The world, literally, grinds to a halt, in one of the most scientifically accurate depictions of nuclear war since "War Game, The" (1965). Unlike the US film "Day After, The" (1983) (TV), the film gives detailed information as to what is happening on a scientific basis. You are shown how a worst-case scenario can happen, and what the effects are, as you follow the surviving members of the two families through the aftermath. The scenes of death, destruction and disease are so realistic, I had to shower after seeing this film for the first time. But what is most disturbing is that the film includes the long-term effects of global thermonuclear war, going into weeks, months, years, even decades. The film ends thirteen years after the nuclear attack, and the final frames of the film will burn into you like no other film ever will. There can be no question that this film MUST be re-released in the USA on DVD, so that it's message will be heard and felt.
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Once again...
airodyssey26 June 2000
I think it would be useless to repeat all that the other users have said about "Threads" since I cannot do better but agree with everything. This has to be THE most graphic representation of nuclear war. And I used to think "The Day After" was disturbing.

I was able to cope to the whole movie, but let's say it wasn't easy at all. I can still hear in my head the yells of the panicked citizens as the mushroom cloud rises in the distance when it hits Crewe... or see the bottles of milk... or the corpse (which bears a striking resemblance with E.T.!) burning in the firestorm... or see survivors keeping as gold what is taken nowadays as granted: supermarket plastic bags... and what they put inside is simply disgusting.

When I found out my local video store had a copy of this film, I rushed to get it, as I was impatient to see this movie I have heard so much about. The impatience to see the movie was rewarded by nothing more than a really bad aftertaste of radioactive fallout.

I liked the movie not for the quality of the actors, but for the overall realistic representation of the holocaust and for the great job done with a small budget. I give a thumbs up to that.
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Simply the most devastating film I've ever seen
Bryan Hargrave7 November 2005
Words can't describe how this movie affected me in 1985, but I'll try. I happened upon a presentation of "Threads" when I was about 11 years old. As a Navy family, we were stationed in Washington D.C. After viewing it, I was frightened to the point of vomiting. I had nightmares for weeks. The world was a very unstable place at the time with a Soviet government that seemed to change monthly.

The cast does an admirable job here. Dialog is kept to a damaging minimum. There is no soundtrack other than screams of misery and explosions. Very effective. While you can't compare a TV production, there is effective use of stock footage. The interspersed scientific facts regarding the aftermath punctuate the film brilliantly.

While other films about the same topic, like "The Day After" and Testament", were reasonably effective in their messages, I think they failed where "Threads" succeeded. In the aforementioned films, there's a glimmer of hope. In "Threads" there is no hope, only death, misery and dread.

I believe I saw "Threads" before the TV broadcast of "The Day After" because my reaction was one of slight indifference. After seeing Mick Jackson's and Barry Hines' work, "The Day After" is like a day at Disneyland. No film portrays the world on the brink and over the edge as effectively. Highly recommended.
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Genuinely horrifying
BenjAii7 December 2004
I've always said that no film can really scare you as an adult as films scared you when you were a kid. My benchmark for that being watching 'The Omen' on video when i was about 13, nothing has ever quite lived up to it in the effect it had on me.

Rewatching 'Threads' a while back makes me change my mind.

I remember first seeing it in Ireland on the BBC when I guess i was about 14. Even in Ireland, a neutral country, anxiety about nuclear war was a big thing when we were kids in the 80's.

'Threads' does really get to you, its very unsettling and disturbing. Unlike fictional horror films, 'Threads' is hugely different in one respect - it's real. This is what would happen, you can't distance yourself by saying it's make believe. There are still thousands of nuclear weapons armed and primed to be launched within minutes, 24 hours a day, everyday. Now we even have a country, the US, that says it's ready to use them, even if no one else does first.

Rewatching it, the dated production values don't detract from the film's power. It seems to bring the film even closer to the ordinary and the everyday. It's the film's ordinariness that makes it so viscerally disturbing - Hollywood special effects would at least have allowed you to distance yourself from it somewhat. In fact the film is more realistic for not having them. Someone else mentioned the scene of the woman in the shopping centre urinating where she stood out of pure terror as she sees the bomb go off a mile or two away from her - thats the scene that stayed with me the most too.

Its depressing to think in 2004 we are living in a world where politicians are again talking about 'winnable' wars using nuclear weapons. In many things in life you get a second chance if you make mistakes, I don't think nuclear weapons use will give us the luxury of finding out afterwards was it all worth it. Watch "Threads' and see if you think 'winnable' nuclear war is something you want to give yourself or your children.
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Shocking yet extremely realistic nuclear-war telemovie...
Aussie Stud23 June 2001
As with most other reviewers who saw this movie, I too have had shocking images burned into my brain that I will never forget.

I first saw this when I was in 8th grade. Our teacher showed us the first half but then she went on sick leave and for some reason, we never got to see the rest of the film. Most of the other students didn't really care, but for years I've always wondered how the movie turned out.

Well I recently rented this after I saw it at video store I just signed up at and all I can say is, "Oh my God." Although captivating, this movie is shockingly and frightfully sickening in the most humane way possible. It focuses on the threat of a nuclear war that is imposed on the residents of an industrial town in Britain, "Sheffield". The nuclear war will affect all of Britain and penultimately, the rest of the world, but we focus on several different characters and families that reside in Sheffield.

We spend the first half of the movie focusing on people in every day life situations which lead into reports of a nuclear war scare and finally, widespread panic in society that results after it becomes apparent that a nuclear war WILL most likely occur.

The halfway point of the movie is the nuclear explosion itself. We see buildings explode, bodies incinerate and perhaps the end of the world as we may all know it.

The second half of the movie focuses on the aftermath of the nuclear devastation and the collapse of a working society. I can't even begin to name all of the horrors that are examined to great detail. We witness cannibalism, famine and disease. We particularly follow the exploits of one character, 'Ruth', pregnant with a child before the nuclear war, we witness the birth of the 'nuclear generation', and particularly, the exploits of her daughter once she is exposed to what world and life has become.

When the credits rolled, my brain couldn't tell me to find the remote and press stop. It was too busy filtering through all the images and 'what if' scenarios that were running through my brain after watching "Threads". I realise that at the time of this movie's initial release, nuclear war was a possible threat. It is now almost 16 years later and this movie still has enough power and grist to tell and show you that ANYTHING 'nuclear' is wrong.

This is a movie every school child should be forced to watch. I admit that it may induce nightmares, but this is a movie that has a message that MUST be received.
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Saw it again recently and it STILL packs a killer punch.
world_of_weird16 September 2004
I was about eleven or twelve when this harrowing made-for-TV docu-drama was repeated by the BBC, back to back with 'The War Game'. 'The War Game' didn't faze me much, for various reasons, but 'Threads' - that grabbed me instantly and wouldn't let go. It was not only horribly real, seeing a lower-middle class family rather like my own suddenly plunged back into the dark ages by a nuclear holocaust, it was also entirely believable (the cold war was still very much an ongoing concern back in the eighties) and shockingly compelling. I wanted to look away, but couldn't. I wanted to run from the room in fright, but couldn't. For better or worse, this film showed in full, unflinching, uncompromising detail exactly what it would be like if your home town got nuked, and gave us graphic realism in spades. Melting milk-bottles, spontaneous urination, houses reduced to rubble in seconds, burning cats, dead kids, gore, vomit, armed traffic wardens shooting looters, filth, decay,'s certainly not a barrel of laughs, but Mick Jackson's aim was to shut up all the ignorant gung-hos who believed a nuclear war could be "won". He succeeded, unequivocally. The scene that made the deepest impact on me was the ravaged makeshift classroom with a ragged bunch of shell-shocked adults dazedly watching an ancient videotape of a schools programme (Words and Pictures, in fact) in an attempt to regain their numeracy and literacy skills. That was a show we used to watch at school. Work it out for yourself. In short, this is a downbeat, depressing, bleak and utterly horrible film, but I recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone. The cold war may be gone, but the threats portrayed are still very real.
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Never far from my thoughts...
Chris20066 July 2005
The first and only time I saw Threads was when it aired on PBS in 1985 or 1986, at 15 or 16 years old. It came near the end of my childhood obsession with world war III, in which I terrified myself to sleep many nights worrying about it.

Like no other movie Threads has, in the last 20 years, popped back in my thoughts on occasion. I remember many scenes vividly, and through the magic of IMDb, I've learned that some things that I thought I saw, but couldn't believe, actually did occur in the film. (I'm referring specifically to the "ET" scene that was mentioned in the message boards.) Having grown up in the strategic target city of Chicago, I thought: Okay, this is what I could expect if it does happen. I kept me awake into my 20's, when the cold war ended, and the threat was minimized.

There truly is no more frightening a movie ever made.
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Possibly the grimmest movie ever made
Scott-823 February 1999
I first saw "Threads" in high school, and saw it again recently as a grown adult. It does make a measure how old you are when viewing this movie; you take the actions on screen more seriously.

"Threads" plays like BBC documentary about a catastrophic nuclear war, interjecting live scenes with a bland monologue and various statistics, although one wonders what audience would be viewing this documentary.

Since it does play like a documentary, it feels no need to either overplay events or sugarcoat things for our sensibilities. There's no speeches or heroic actions, everything occurs as it happens, no matter how horrifying.

The gore is moderate (it was a TV movie after all) but is unsettling because it's taken to be real. Throughout you look for some hopeful thought to intrude, even comic relief, but "Threads" stares you down, making you watch the horror and woe to the bitter end. There is no hope or salvation, only despair.

It's worth seeing a movie like this as a reminder of the horrors of nuclear war; the threat of a mututal destruction by superpowers seems to be fast fading, but there's always the possibility of terrorists or new enemies.

"Threads" is to nuclear war what "Saving Private Ryan" is to war movies, a landmark film that delivers a strong political message without ever really mentioning it.
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absolute insanity.
brrrnor18 February 2008
My boyfriend had been dogging me for months to watch this movie, which he (erroneously, I think) described as sci-fi. Now, I've never been a fan of sci-fi movies, as I think most of them are over-done, corny, etc. Add to that the fact that the movie was made 23 years ago, and I pretty much decided it wasn't going to be my cup of celluloid tea.

Was I ever wrong. Not only was it the singular most horrifying movie I've ever watched, it's timely as hell, and it's done documentary-style, so there aren't any overblown emotional scenes to detract from its realism. This movie scared me on such a profound level that I actually felt like I was having a panic attack and had to shut it off halfway through, during the "hospital" scene. Mind you, I've never in my entire life been so disturbed by a movie that I just couldn't watch anymore. I sobbed, hard, for a good 15 minutes and couldn't sleep for most of that night. I have yet to finish the second half.

That said, I can't recommend it to the faint-of-heart. It will hit you on such a visceral level that everything in your reality will seem a little duller and less important after having watched it. I'm still amazed at how the events outlined in this movie are as much a threat to us now as they were in 1984. Twenty-three years later, we are no further from preventing a nuclear holocaust. If anything, the threat is more imminent.

If you can stomach it, you won't regret it.
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Mother Do You Think They`ll Drop The Bomb ?
Theo Robertson10 February 2002
Nothing on television has disturbed me as much as THREADS, There is so much to shock the viewer in this docu-drama that it`s difficult to pick the most disturbing aspect of this nuclear holocaust scenario , but if pushed I`d say it`s the ending of the rule of law. The thought of having my throat cut for a packet of cheese and onion crisps is more frightening than the lack of medical facilities , famine , radiation sickness or mutant babies.

The reason THREADS wins over its rivals for the crown of " Nuclear Holocaust King " is its depiction of The Nuclear Winter , though it`s done rather unsuccessfully by sticking a dark filter over the camera , but at least it`s mentioned in depth unlike the awful THE DAY AFTER , and unlike TDA we`re shown the months and years after the war where the survivors have to cope without an ozone layer or a coherent language. These survivors are truly the unlucky ones. The final scene is so distressing it doesn`t need words

Of course it hasn`t happened , the cold war is over and for that the human race must be truly greatful but as a teenager in the 1980`s nuclear holocaust didn`t only seem possible - it seemed probable . And if it looked like the bomb was going to drop I`d be having a last supper involving lots of vodka and sleeping pills. A cowards way out perhaps but as THREADS shows they won`t be giving out medals after the third world war
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An ever-lasting impact!!
Steven Withers22 January 2000
I remember seeing this film when was I was a small schoolboy in England when it was first on the TV in 1985. Although I only saw snatches of the film, it's images and horror have remained with me to this day. This has to be the most visually shocking and emotionally impacting film that I have ever seen. It terrified the life out of me when I was a kid and I became convinced that this was actually going to happen at any time, I thought this was reality, not a film! For years I used to jump under the bed at the sound of an airplane! The most shocking thing was seeing the things you are so familiar with falling apart and seeing the threads of the order of society fall apart so easily. Some of the images were so strange, one that sticks in my mind is seeing a traffic-warden with a machine gun shooting starving survivors. To a small boy the thought that traffic wardens were going to become machine gun toting monsters was more scary than all the horror movies in the world! The image of a giant mushroom cloud rising over Sheffield and the woman who dropped her ice cream into a rapidly forming puddle of her own urine as a result. The horrible birth scene at the end. Diseased survivors fighting for dead sheep. How nice that the politicians would be nicely tucked up in their bunkers whilst we poor pawns would be left up here to face all that.

I breathed quite a large sigh of relief when the Soviet Union collapsed! Let's just hope that humans have finally realised the power of their own destructive force and we will never have to face this becoming a reality. It's fifteen years since I saw the film and have never been able to track it down or find out much about it, most people I speak to have never heard of it, for a while I thought I must have imagined that it ever existed. I was quite relieved to find other people who had seen it on this web site! It is such a shame that it is such an unknown film, it has got to be one of the most powerful anti-war films ever made, and all on a cheap BBC budget, take that Hollywood! I just wish I could see it again to see if it is as shocking as I remember, and judging by the other user comments here, it is.
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"I hoped we were not capable of this. But..."
Don-17012 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Warning!!!! Possible spoilers ahead!!!

The above is the summary from a friend whom I let borrow my copy of Threads, which I just received 3 weeks ago. All I can say is oh my goodness... I saw part of this about 10-12 years ago during late night network TV here in the US. However, my VCR stopped right at the point Ruth gives birth. For the past 12 years, I never knew the ending. Now I do... And the film is even more shocking since I have grown up and am now making a living for myself.

What really makes this film a kick in the pants is the visual impact the scenes provide to the viewers. The Day After (1983 ABC) is like a cartoon compared to this. The overall shock value is quite high and some of the scenes are just beyond imaginations. Still living people buried beneath the rubble during the firestorm, confused animals walking the post-attack streets, people vomiting from radiation sickness, eating raw animal flesh to survive. That is rather grotesque, but it is the harsh reality of what would come to pass if the unthinkable happened and there was a nuclear conflict. Oh, and the hospital scenes! A man has to have his leg amputated with a hand saw because there is no electricity!! There is not even a way to heat anything to cauterize his amputation! This film is NOT meant for the faint of heart! Unlike The Day After which ends a few months after the attack, Threads continues 13 years past the attack. This truly gives the viewer a more realistic look into a post-nuclear society. Anybody care to go back to the days of steam engines? You will in this movie. Living conditions do not improve at all even 13 years after the attack.

One aspect The Day After never bothered to deal with is Nuclear Winter. How would society adjust if the sunlight was blocked out by dust clouds so great that temperatures fell to near freezing year round? Threads is the only film to portray that. The crop losses alone would kill millions of the remaining people due to lack of food. And with a vastly diminished harvest, where will people get seeds to replant for next year? Also of note is the post nuclear winter conditions where the ozone layer is nearly depleted and the sunlight is heavy with ultraviolet radiation? You see the survivors wearing handmade cloaks to protect themselves. Nothing of the sort was covered in The Day After.

In conclusion, Threads has to be the most accurate depiction of life after a global nuclear war. The BBC does not tell Barry Hines to tone down the material as ABC did to the producers of The Day After. The whole point of such graphically intense scenes is to point out WHY NUCLEAR WAR MUST BE AVOIDED!!! For fans of the nuke genre, watch this for a no-holds-barred look into the consequences of nuclear war. You will be left saying "Oh my goodness" at the end. Just remember that while there will be those that said that Hiroshima and Nagasaki rebuilt themselves, they forget those were only two cities in a single country. Who, or what, will be left to rebuild the cities if all of them in the world are destroyed?
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A Vision of Hell
bayardhiler19 December 2016
Ever since the first atom bomb was detonated in 1945, the world has lived in fear of the possibility of nuclear war and the annihilation of civilization. Naturally, such a scenario has formed the basis of more than one film, some going for a more sci-fi take where radiation created mutants and monsters roam the earth in the aftermath, others going for a more darker, realistic take. Those of the latter can be some of the most horrific films ever made, but few of those films reach the level of realism and abject terror that 1984's "Threads" does. Produced by the BBC for television, it came out during a time of renewed tensions in the Cold War and fears that a nuclear confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States was imminent. The American landmark TV movie "The Day After" had come out one year earlier, now it would be the British's turn, and while "The Day After" was a frighteningly realistic movie, "Threads" went one step further in becoming the most horrific film of its kind.

Made in a quasi-documentary style with occasional narration by Paul Vaughan, it takes place in the northern England town of Sheffield, where two young lovers Ruth and Jimmy are just starting out in life and planning on getting married, having a baby, and blissfully unaware of the news of a growing crisis unfolding in Iran. The Soviets have invaded Iran due to a American backed coup that has overthrown the government there, America calls for the Soviets to leave, they refuse, and the situation escalates when the United States sends troops of their own. Slowly but surely, the residents can't help but notice the situation as tensions mount, and panic gradually ensues. You can feel the feeling of dread increase as the film progresses, and things reach a boiling point when tactical nuclear weapons are used by both the Russians and Americans in Iran. Tensions and protests increase, until finally the unthinkable happens: The bombs come for Sheffield, and all hell breaks loose when the demonic mushroom cloud looms over the land, but as we will soon learn the bomb is only the beginning, for what follows makes even the most horrific tale of fire and brimstone hell seem trite in comparison.

If you seek even the remotest resemblance of hope, joy, or happiness, look someplace else, for "Threads" has none to offer. The scene where the bomb drops is the most realistic and disturbing of any such scene I have ever seen, for we see sheer terror on a primal scale as buildings are turned instantly into rubble, a woman wets herself in terror, milk bottles are melted, still moving human bodies are roasted alive among the fires, cats are suffocated from the heat, and life as we know it ends forever. All of this still holds over thirty years later, despite being a made for TV production. But if the bomb is bad, the aftermath is worse. There is no electricity, no running water, infrastructure is reduced to rubble and hospitals are useless as the narrator dryly tells us that with out the basic necessities of water and electricity, a doctor is no longer able to provide basic care, and is no more valuable than the next survivor, having instead to resort to primitive measures of the past, all shown in horrific detail. Fall out covers the sky, causing a nuclear winter, radiation rains down, causing sickness and misery undreamed of, the soil contaminates, and crops are no more.

I can unequivocally say this is the most hopeless movie I ever seen of any genre, for "Threads" pulls zero punches, permeates your soul, and utterly rips it apart. I ended up watching this on a small screen my phone, which I normally don't do as I prefer big screens. At first I didn't know if I'd be able to watch it all the way because of that, but as the film progressed the size of the screen no longer mattered, for "Threads" pulled me in and would not let go, right up until the final moment where we find out what the future of mankind is; there isn't one. For fifteen to twenty minutes after the ending I was barely able to move or speak, as my mind couldn't completely grasp what I had seen. Even now I'm not sure it can. "Threads" shows what could have easily happened if the cold war had ever gone hot (as it almost did, many times, a lot more than most people realize), and what could still happen if God forbid a day comes when things between the west and Russia or some other nuclear power come to blows over some international incident. After all, folks, the cold war might have ended, but that doesn't mean Russia and the U.S. stopped aiming missiles at one another. This film is hard to come by in the United States, and I was only able to see it through a link on you tube, but if you get the chance and have the stamina to witness the closest thing to real nuclear war without actually experiencing it, watch "Threads", and while you're at it, whether you're a believer or not, pray this isn't the future of mankind.
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Extremely graphic and disturbing nuclear drama
Jimmy Vespa2 May 2006
Put simply, THREADS takes every disaster movie you've ever seen - even the huge budget offerings from Hollywood - and unceremoniously skewers them on a rusty skewer. Very few films have the ability to suck the life out of a viewer and leave them feeling drained and shaken in quite the same way that this does. The world may have moved on since 1984, but the central message of THREADS - that politicians have the power to pretty much destroy the whole world and wipe out life as we know it in a matter of minutes - remains horribly relevant. So, if you're looking for shocks and jolts, where to start? Burning cats, dead kids, dogs buried in rubble, incinerated babies, mutants, synchronised vomiting, hospital floors awash with excrement, blood and urine, point-blank shootings, stillbirths, characters we've come to know and care about starving to death or slowly dying before our eyes, extreme incompetence on the part of government-appointed officials, radioactive sheep...the list is endless. If you find the scene where the bomb is dropped on Sheffield city centre on a bustling weekday morning upsetting, then I strongly advise you to switch off, because the rest of the film is unremittingly bleak, nauseating and devoid of hope. It will give you nightmares for weeks. THREADS is not a film to be watched, it's a film to be endured, and if you feel you don't have the stomach for it, go with your first instinct and give it a very wide berth. It makes the so-called 'video nasties' look like a frivolous waste of time.
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Disturbing, riveting, yet unbelievably thought-provoking...
djdesq7128 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I saw "The Day After" when I was 11, and still remember bringing home the letter from school warning my parents about the film's content. A couple of years after that, I saw listings for "Testament" and "Threads" in the TV Guide but never got the chance to see either one when they were broadcast. Now, almost two decades later, I finally saw "Threads", having tracked down a decent quality DVD on eBay. Having grown up during the Cold War, in my quest for a copy of the film I researched it so thoroughly (on IMDb and other sources) that by the time I viewed it I was somewhat "hardened" against the gory details, but not enough to come away from the movie with a sense of awe at the scenes of destruction and, more importantly (unlike TDA), the impression that humanity in its most basic form might survive WWIII, but civilization might well be destroyed beyond its ability to recover. What really struck a chord with me, after reflecting on the movie, was wondering what a postwar generation (as briefly seen through the eyes of Ruth's daughter) would inherit: a world without education or culture, without laws or values, without hope or a sense of future and, most disturbingly, without love.
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The Most Disturbing Movie ever Made
zulu_t3 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As a kid growing up during the Cold War, I used to get lots of nightmares about nuclear war. So you can imagine how I must have felt when I saw Threads for the first time.

Being all of 22 when I first saw threads, I could really relate to the young couple-to-be-married and what they had to go through during and after the attack.

The attack scenes made me quiver with fright. I could easily empathize with the utter panic and feelings of sheer powerlessness that all of the characters experienced during the attack - it was almost like actually being there in real life. Particularly so with the scene where the civil servants in the bunker react with fear and shock when the 'Attack Warning Red' alarm goes off and absolute pandemonium ensues.

The fact that they ended up being entombed in their bunker should be an indication to viewers that the only public officials who are going to survive are those located in the deepest, most hardened and remote facilities. Usually the only people who get such secure accommodations are the ones at the top of the food chain, not your average senior municipal official.

Most sobering was the recounting of attack-related statistics that, in a nutshell, indicated only too clearly that Great Britain could not in any meaningful sense survive, much less recover from a massive nuclear attack.

It was also quite disturbing to learn that after a nuclear attack Britain would lose 80% of its agricultural capacity. Consider the fact that even with its farming sector, the country is still heavily dependent on imports, and you might wonder if the estimate of 4 - 10 million survivors wasn't a tad over-optimistic.

The producers did a phenomenal job on a very small budget. Few movies in history have been able to pull off such a feat and remain so convincing. Yes, the acting is a tiny bit wooden in places, but for the most part it's superb.

Only a minority of the special effects look cheesy. Considering the budget and that the movie was made in an era before CGI animation, they're very well done.

Not even The Day After (which I had seen months before) is as brutal and unflinching as Threads is in its treatment of the effects of nuclear war. The Day After may have slicker acting, but Threads puts a chill in your bones that takes a while to go away.

Definitely worth seeing. If you want to get a good appreciation of what nuclear war might actually be like, you should see The War Game, Threads and The Day After - in that order. Even then, none of these movies taken together (or separately) could ever prepare anyone for the horrible realities that would await survivors after a real attack.

Threads is still very relevant today. While the risk of global nuclear war isn't a fraction as immediate (or as great) as it was in the early 1980's it's still present. After all, for as long as nuclear weapons continue to exist along with intercontinental delivery systems, there remains a real chance that they will, (not 'may') get used.
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Should be Mandatory Viewing for All
rdconger22 June 2008
The American film, "The Day After," fails shamefully in comparison to "Threads." The sentimentality that concludes "The Day After" is typical of American commercial television. This magnificent British film has no sops for the sentimental.

It achieves its effect largely by the use of realistic, horrifying, unsparing detail. We see the protagonist's parents in their basement. The wife has died. The husband has, as advised by a radio broadcast, wrapped her corpse in plastic bags; he holds her shrouded body, weeping. Later, when their daughter comes home, she opens the door to the cellar and is powerfully repulsed by the stench and the buzzing of flies, massing in the cellar.

It would be well for everyone all over the world to see this film now, since we again have leaders whose ignorance has tempted them to consider the idea that making nuclear weapons somehow suitable for use is wise, or even possible. It is neither. We cannot allow it to happen.

One wishes that something as sternly cautionary as this frankly realistic film could be made about the future we face under climate change. Indeed, climate change could very well lead to nuclear war, as an act of desperation by some nation or group of nations in the face of economic ruin or as a response to an invasion of climate refugees. It would be entirely insane, of course -- but, look at the madmen running so many nations in the world, including the US, right at this moment: Bush, above all; and Amahdinijad; and the presidents, prime ministers, or dictators of Isreal, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Burma, Sudan, or Venezuala -- every one of them either wretched ignoramuses, loose cannons, madmen, or all of the above.
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A Film That Nightmares Are Made Of
Matthew Kresal30 July 2008
Threads (to say the least) is the most disturbing film I have seen in a long time. As someone interested in the what if scenarios of nuclear war I had long heard about this film and its reputation. In fact, I once saw this film described as making a similar U.S. film called The Day After look like "a Hollywood musical". Having finally seen this film, I can see why.

Threads is, first and foremost, a disturbing look at the lead up to and aftermath of a nuclear war as seen from a town in Britain. It is told through the eyes of many but mainly through the character of Ruth Beckett, played excellently by Karen Meagher. A film's power can at times depend almost entirely on its cast and Threads has a strong cast. The cast makes the film believable and never does anyone go over the top or let melodrama take over. Each of them plays with realism, the fears, anxieties, and (before it is over with) the despair of the situation they find themselves in. There is also the benefit of not having a recognizable face (or should I say major actors) in the film to trow off the realism.

In fact the realism of the film is what sets it apart from The Day After, Nicholas Meyer's excellent film released a year earlier. Writer Barry Hines and director Mick Jackson, like the actors, never play for melodrama or sensationalism which was the only fault of The Day After. The other major difference between the two films is the level of gore (for lack of a better word) and the overall message of the film.

Gore might not be the best word, but the attack and its aftermath are depicted in a graphic way. We see bodies burning, people scared and burned, the walking wounded, and hospitals full of victims with no power or anesthetics. It's a worst nightmare come true for most of us and because of the tone of realism, it becomes even more real and horrifying. That said the really amazing thing about this film is the fact that despite those graphic images (and a really shocking and heartbreaking ending) many of the deaths do not occur on screen but off. Many times we see the bodies of characters but never their actual deaths. What could have been gratuitous death and violence instead becomes the exact opposite: the film uses those moments to illustrate the true horror and consequences of the events unfolding.

Then there's the overall message of the film, and this is where Threads really stands out. Where as The Day After contained a hint of optimism about the aftermath of a nuclear war, which is to say that even in the worst of times humanity's basic good can still prevail., Threads does not have that sense of optimism and is all the better for it. It takes a hard look not only at the immediate effects of the war but at the long term effects, going forward some thirteen years to show Ruth and her daughter living in a once civilized country descended into anarchy and chaos. This is a film where there are no winners, only losers and victims.

Considering the fact that this film is a graphic depiction of nuclear war and its aftermath, I would normally say this is not a film for the squeamish but this is one of those films where you have to put squeamishness aside. In fact, considering I find most "horror" films laughable, I found this experience downright chilling and disturbing. Threads is a lesson for anyone past, present, or future who advocates nuclear weapons or their use. Yet it is not the images of horror and devastation that make this film stand out even today. What makes Threads stand out and as relevant as ever is that is shows a lesson that can still be learned some 24 years since it came out: when the threads of the modern world are cut, we all lose.
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Saw This Again At The Weekend
Theo Robertson5 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I last saw THREADS in the late Summer of 1985 and to their credit BBC4 broadcast it again last weekend . A lot has happened in between , the cold war is over and I spent a weekend in Sheffield last year ironically enough at the Greenpeace annual national skillshare conference . Seeing as I reviewed THE DAY AFTER after rewatching it after a 20 year gap it`s only fair I do the same to THREADS

!!!!! SPOILERS !!!!!!

Barry Hines script hasn`t aged very well . It`s obviously set in the year it was broadcast where the regional emergency government chairman doesn`t want Argentine beef , and upon being asked about the Falklands a trade unionist replies " Listen mate , there`s no one more patriotic than me . I`ve been trying to get us out of the common market for years " . Hines script also gets off to a terribly slow start but this is undoubtedly to juxtapose the horrors to come , however the characters are very much " eee by gum " northern stereotypes and I couldn`t take them too seriously especially when they`re shown to keep pigeons . Despite being the most nightmarish thing ever to have appeared on a television set Hines has made THREADS rather understated . Very few of the main characters die on screen , Jimmy Kemp and his sister disappear from the narrative never to be seen again once the bomb drops while the rest of the Kemps die off screen , neither do Ruth`s parents and grandmother die on screen . Hines also uses little touches of humour and irony . Watch the scene where the smug mercenary shop keeper tells the shoppers to put the food back if they don`t like the prices only to see them run out the shop without paying . The line about " If you want tents see the bloody boy scouts " sums up British humour while I couldn`t help noticing the placard " Quakers for peace " which sets them apart from their sister group " Quakers for war " . Finally I want to defend Barry Hines from some quarters that his script is nothing more than CND propaganda which was made by critics on the political right when THREADS was broadcast . Throughout the script it`s the Soviet Union who are shown to be the agressive party . It is the Soviet Union who invade Iran and who fire their nuclear missiles at the west in a pre-emptive strike . Long before the 1980s CND had stopped being the all emcompassing crusade it had been after being created by Bertrand Russell and had become rhetorically anti - American , did they ever protest against the USSR having the bomb ? , so congratulations to Hines for not getting into political rhetoric of capitalist countries with the bomb bad Communist countries with the bomb = good

Like Hines script Mick Jackson`s direction is more understated than is given credit for . Look at the hospital scene . Absolutely stomach churning isn`t it ? , but what did we see ? A bunch of short almost sublime images that can`t be described because they`re not on screen long enough to describe . I guess it`s the screams that shocked us the most . This perfectly sums up what shocks with THREADS it`s not what we see but what we hear , when the bomb drops we hear .... silence , and after this point there`s little dialogue and the most promiment sound is the bleak whistle of the wind . There are a couple of problems with the directing however , one is that the acting is a very mixed bag . Karen Meagher gives an Oscar worthy performance as Ruth Becket but many of the other performances come nowhere close while I found David Brierly especially poor as Mr Kemp , but I guess that`s down to many of the actors playing stereotypes . Much of the footage used by Jackson is obvious news footage but this probably adds to the bleakness ( Remember this is a BBC film not a Hollywood blockbuster ) and the impact of the bomb falling - which will give you nightmares by the way - is down to the very real drama , not the special effects . I did have a problem with two of the stills used ( B&W stills are shown throughout the drama showing the after effects of the war ) . I recognised them right away , one is bodies from a Nazi death camp and one is bodies from the aftermath of an allied raid during the second world war . Jackson undoubtedly made a mistake with these images without knowing it but there`s two types of people who equate the allied bombing of Japan and Germany as being as big a war crime as Nazi genocide . One group is neo-nazis and the other group are pacifists . To show a montage of stills , one which includes German civilian dead alongside victims of Nazi extermination policy made me feel uneasy , of course I do realise that during the real life events of the second world war mirror those of Ruth`s journey through a flattened Sheffield where she sees incinerated bodies , orphans crying out for their missing mothers and mothers holding their dead babies in their arms ( Another scene that will give you nightmares ) , but I still don`t believe either still should have been used even though I`m unable to explain in great detail why . As a matter of interest Mick Jackson would later go on to direct that vapid piece of Hollywood crap THE BODYGUARD starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston . What a contrast of styles

So there you go , despite the cold war ending ( Congratulations to everyone involved for making it happen ) I still found myself unable to sleep well after seeing it again after all these years . THREADS remains the most shocking drama in the history of television
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The best of the vintage nuclear holocaust epics
nekosensei12 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Having lived through both the initial cold war era of "Dr. Strangelove," "Fail Safe" and "On The Beach" and the Reagan-inspired panic that produced "The Day After," "Testament" and "Threads," and having watched them all in the sociopolitical context in which they were made, I'd say "Threads" is the only one worth watching now in terms of what it has to offer on the subject of nuclear war. Kubrick's pop art masterpiece is still the go-to classic for purposes of entertainment and cinematic appreciation, but this is the film that will graphically illustrate to you what the actual sight of a mushroom cloud going off in your vicinity will do to you (you'll pee your pants) and what the actual effects will be on you and your community (hint: it will NOT provide opportunities for tour de force performances by Jason Robards, Jane Alexander or Peter Sellers.)

I went back and watched this again after seeing some vintage British documentaries and PSAs about civil defense during nuclear war on Youtube (particularly the eerie "Protect And Survive" TV spots with their scary little jingle, which are used with frightening effect in this film.) The film's scriptwriter Barry Hines is clearly pointing out what a steaming load the public has been given about the survivability of nuclear war. Without the grand dramatic gestures of the other epics mentioned above, this modest film demonstrates with much more dramatic power how unfathomably inhuman the people at the top are to subject their fellow human beings to this ultimate in sadistic threats.

One other thing that I think makes this film more effective than the others mentioned above and more worth watching is its universal dimension, applicable not only to the nuclear scenario but to modern warfare in general with its monstrous emphasis on mass destruction. Hines was speaking to a British audience to which the horrors of the Blitzkrieg were still vivid living memories, and this film, even with its frugal Thatcher-era BBC special effects budget, succeeds in making you feel the trauma of being trapped in a landscape reduced to chunks of concrete and rotting corpses, where survival means literally living like a rat. See it, and the next time you hear someone saying we should bomb the daylights out of this or that country, you might point out to them that bombing a civilian population entails crimes against humanity that they might want to think twice about involving themselves in, even on a purely moral level.

The film is introduced with footage of a spider spinning silk from its abdomen, while a narrator compares the structure of human civilization to the interconnected threads of a spider's web. We then see the finished web. It's a pretty thing, but from our perspective fragile. Also a trap.
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Absolutely horrifying
preppy-323 December 2005
The effects of a nuclear bomb exploding near London and how if affects a woman and her unborn child. It shows them before the blast and 20 years after.

This wasn't the first movie I ever saw about nuclear holocaust. In 1983 US TV ran "The Day After" showing what might possibly happen if there were a nuclear holocaust. The movie disturbed and depressed me for days...but I forgot it pretty quickly. Years later I rented this from a video store...and was absolutely horrified. It's been 15 years (easily) since I've seen this and it has never left me.

"Day After" was (for American TV) pretty graphic but not that bad. "Threads" however held nothing back. You see people incinerated, maimed or dying from radiation poisoning. A woman has to deliver her own baby by biting her own umbilical cord. A man sells dead rats for food. It goes on and on. It also shows how it would affect the environment--totally demolishing the ozone layer and killing people (slowly) with ultra violet radiation. It doesn't flinch from anything and is EXTREMELY disturbing. The ending offers no hope. I'll probably never see it again because it was so horrifying but I think everyone should see this at least once.

My one complaint--it's a bit too long. Still--highly recommended. Just brace yourself.
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One Of The Finest Nuclear War Films
climbingivy30 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Threads is one of the finest nuclear war films that I have ever seen. I have seen most of the nuclear war movies as far as I know. Threads was beautifully done in Britain and I loved the setting.The setting of Sheffield, England gave the film a gritty, realistic atmosphere.I loved the actors because except for a couple of the actors,I did not recognize most of them.That gave the movie a refreshing feeling to me.I liked how they showed the young couple who had hopes and dreams of getting married and starting a family.I got a kick out of the part that showed the two families meeting for the first time.I was gripped and stunned at the movies depiction of the nuclear explosions and the aftermath.I feel like that is how it really would be for the majority of people that do not have an underground shelter to live in like the politicians and their families would have.This movie was not over acted or portrayed.Threads was powerful in it's simplicity with characters that you could identify with.I purchased a video of this movie many years ago and I am glad that I still have it.
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What might have happened...
jon-133331 December 2006
Quite simply the most terrifying film that I have ever seen, probably because it could have happened, rather than being about something completely imaginary like ghosts or aliens. It's easy to forget now just how prevalent the threat of nuclear war was back in the mid 1980's. Threads scared me witless in 1984 and still scared me witless when I saw it again 20 years later, despite a global conflict being much less likely nowadays. It's much more terrifying than its US equivalent, The Day After, which although disturbing, does feel a bit like Dallas with the Bomb. It's stood the test of time quite well, despite some rather weak effects.
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Don't watch this movie if you need your sleep that night
jake-879 February 1999
I have never been so moved, shocked, upset, disturbed... and may I add 1,000 other adjectives ?? WHEW! I first saw this on a video tape from our Public Library in late 1986.. I was SO upset that I couldn't bring myself to watch it again until the threat of nuclear war had, for the most part, evaporated, in 1996 !! Done in documentary style, this horror of a nuclear strike by the former (whew) Soviet Union on England so terrified me that I almost became physically ill. Forget your slasher horror flicks and Freddie Kruegers, this one is REAL horror. I doubt if you will be able to rent it.. try your local library, and repeat after me: It's only a movie...It's only a movie... It's.... How close did it come to being reality?? We will never know! The scene when the "Big One" explodes right outside the house of a family that we had been following.. and needed to follow no more.. was one of the most moving scenes, horrifing too, that I have EVER seen in the movies or on TV. All our politicians , nay ALL politicians (and World Leaders), should be required to watch the destruction from a nuclear blast on ordinary citizens.. Watch them melt, vaporize, burn, blister, vomit... get the picture?
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