All those practiced shrieks and power tool-flailing freaks of this issue’s scare special? Mere sideshows. Welcome to the main horror event... Four-minute warning. ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’. A projected mortality rate of 30 million, with seven million serious injuries. Goodbye family, house, street, town... Nighty night, all.
Back in the early ’80s, with the superpowers circling and stockpiling, Kes writer Barry Hines retched his anxieties into a pitiless, documentary-style film about a full-scale nuclear attack on his home-town of Sheffield. Anyone unfortunate enough to have been impressionable at the time will still shudder at Threads’ harrowing pile-up of desperate, devastated imagery: cosy terraced houses instantly smashed into rubble, panic-induced incontinence, melting milk bottles and charred babies, the ordinary and everyday braced for oblivion.
Despite the shonky fonts, comfortingly mockable big hair and all-round beigeness, the film still has a stark, unsentimental power. For unformed ’80s kiddies, Threads distilled all that dumbed-down Cold War jabber on John Craven’s Newsround into something all too thinkable and potentially terminal. It was the end of the world as we knew it. And, as any still-traumatised thirtysomething will tell you, we weren’t feeling fine.
Sadly, this DVD release is a big fumble, as there are no extras on offer. Still, at least they haven’t dropped in any digital enhancement guff. The lo-fi TV transfer fuzz maintains the unrelenting ambience of a long-repressed nightmare finally recurring in all its bleak, untreated glory.