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Millennium Movies
Kim Newman
Titan paperback £12.99

review by Tony Lee

Alien invaders, comet impacts, giant reptiles/ animal revolts, killer plants, monstrous insects, hideous mutants, incurable plagues, totalitarian genocide, natural disasters, poisoned air, nuclear war - nightmare visions all! And the apocalypse goes on and on... Millennium Movies (aka: Apocalypse Movies) is a survey of catastrophe films. From tragic military accidents and scientific blunders to acts of international terrorism, it explores the vast, dark territory between our hopes and fears.

It begins with H.G. Wells, "chief prophet of the secular Apocalypse," - because, in spite of its biblical associations, the end of the world has become as closely linked to science fiction as spaceships and robots. Between the best of times and the worst case scenario we find The Day The Earth Stood Still, A Crack In The World, Godzilla, Doomwatch, Them!, Dr Strangelove, Planet Of The Apes, Mad Max, Deep Impact, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and The War Of The Worlds.

Into this melting pot of doomsday plots, Kim Newman stirs WW2 dramas, atom age satires, spy thrillers, post-holocaust adventures and cautionary tales of every type, and it's interesting to note how the last 50 years has seen once-feared nuclear weapon rehabilitated into the primary tool of planetary defence. Newman is one the most knowledgeable and erudite genre critics around. Millennium Movies is an information blitz, with only a few wearying lists of titles, but includes many quotes which illuminate aspects of its subject rather better than any standard analyses could and offers some astute insight and discerning commentary. What I enjoyed most about this book though is the mention of influential genre novels relevant to particular themes, and subsequent recognition that they played a major part in shaping global disasters for the screen, even when not used as the source of a script.

previously published in SHIVERS #68 (August 1999)
Millennium Movies

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