Panic in the Year Zero

A reader sent a Youtube link to me of an old black and white movie called Panic in the Year Zero.  It was released in 1962.  I normally don’t watch old black and whites, but I hit play while I was doing other stuff online.  As I was listening to the video, I heard some dialogue that peeked my interest so I switched over to watch it.  I was surprised to hear some of the same stuff that I read when I’m looking for those excellent article to link up on Prepper Website.  As I watched the movie, I opened up a text file and started jotting down some notes.  Even in 1962, survival skills and thoughts are survival skills and thoughts.

The movie takes place in California during a nuclear war. IMDB has this short description, “A family of four leaves Los Angeles for a camping trip just before a nuclear bomb destroys the city. As lawlessness prevails, the father must fight to keep his family alive.”

I won’t spoil the video for you, in case you want to watch it.  But here are some things that I jotted down.  Remember, this movie was released in 1962.

  • It doesn’t take long for people to panic.
  • Normalcy Bias gets in the way/will get in the way of making good decisions.
  • Communications is something everybody craves and will want.  People want to know what is going on in the world and if there is hope.
  • It doesn’t take long for people to start “doing bad” stuff: looting, taking advantage, stealing, robbing, etc…
  • Food that doesn’t spoil is important.
  • Having ENOUGH cash on hand is very important.
  • Out of the way towns are the best to stock-up or get supplies.  The herd stays on main roads.
  • You might have to do what you need to do to survive.  It might not be you.  You might have a hard time with it.
  • Having a plan: a bugout location, a route to get there and a plan once you are there is important.
  • Traveling might be best to do in the dark when traffic is down.
  • You will always have to be careful. Security is a big issue.  One slip up can mean disastrous results.
  • Family discussions, making sure everyone is on the same page is important.  Also, having someone as the sure leader is important to get things done.
  • Faith helps.
  • People react to fear differently.  Some move to action, some to inaction.
  • Eventually, the most peaceful can become violent if they need to.
  • People will want to barter ammo.
  • Problem solving will be an on-going thing.
  • First Aid, First Aid, First Aid – Medical Bag – First Aid – Enough said?

Again, I was very surprised by the movie.  It is kind of cheesy compared to 2013 standards, but the writers put some thought into it.  Even in 1962, things can go south very quickly.  Having skills, knowledge and the ability to act on those are important.

Here is the link to the video –

Oh, by the way, Prepper Website has some of the coolest readers!

This article first appeared on Ed That Matters.

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Todd Sepulveda

I'm the owner/editor of Prepper Website, a DAILY preparedness aggregator that links to the best preparedness articles on the internet. I'm also a public school administrator and a pastor. My personal blog is Ed That Matters, where I write about preparedness and from time to time, education. Connect with me on one of my social media outlets below.

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6 thoughts on “Panic in the Year Zero

  1. Mic Roland

    It’s a shame to write off old black and whites. The whole Cold War Era of the 50s was rife with prepper thinking that worked into movies. Sure, some of it was a bit naive, but other bits are still valid.

    Another old movie in a similar vein to “Panic in the Year Zero” is “This IS Not A Test”. 1962. It’s a lesser production, so you have to cut it some slack. And, it’s not so much about prepping as it is a picture of how people react in a SHTF crisis. I’m pretty sure this movie is on YouTube too.

    Old movie rock!

  2. popeye72

    I got this movie on dvd about 5 years ago. It is a real well thought out low budget movie.
    Ray Miland keeps his cools and does what he needs to take care of his family. This should be a must see for preppers. This would probably be the very first prepper movie ever made.

    1. Todd Post author


      I would never have watched it if a reader didn’t suggest it to me. But I’m glad they did. 😉


  3. Pingback: What is the Best Prepper/Survival Movie? |

  4. Pingback: Prepper Lessons From The Movies: "Where Have All The People Gone?" 1974 |

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