TV Guide Ads for TV Movies: The Day After (1983)

Day After 1983

What I remember about The Day After is that I had to wait a long time to see the now infamous nuclear attack sequence. I was deeply fascinated by the sight of mushroom clouds—actual test footage and various representations in movies, books, and comics—throughout the ’80s: they were like a dark magic in a world that was tediously ordinary. As an adult, I understand that nothing is more mundane than the willingness of one group of people to annihilate another group of people on a mass scale, and despite global collateral damage.

I thought I’d seen the movie when it premiered, but my mom says she doesn’t remember letting me watch it. I don’t know where else I would have been. It was Sunday night and we had one TV. It’s possible I could have seen it on video a few years later.

The juxtaposition in the promo is pretty damn effective.

14 Responses to “TV Guide Ads for TV Movies: <em>The Day After</em> (1983)”


  1. 1 Alec Semicognito March 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I remember the controversy over whether parents should let their kids watch it. Mine did. I remember a black character checking in at a medical center and asking the clerk, “I know I’m suffering from radiation sickness, but is there anything I can do about it?” and just getting a silent stare. And at the very end a man and woman meeting and laughing when she says “You look like you fell off your bike” because he’s contracted it too.

  2. 3 leftylimbo March 17, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Totally remember watching this. But The Day After was like an after school special compared to the bleak, gritty and super-grim Threads movie (BBC) which came out in ’84. Did you see that one? I still remember the endless vomiting and hair loss, along with the onset of the “nuclear winter,” amongst other traumatizing scenes.

    • 4 2W2N March 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      I don’t remember Threads, but I remember Testament, a brutal portrait of a town post-nuke, which beat The Day After by about a month.

      • 5 Jay March 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm

        I remember both Threads & Testament (strangely, I didn’t watch The Day After until about a year ago, as it scared me to watch it back in the day); of the three, TDA was the weakest. Threads, like Lefty said, was powerful in its depiction of the aftermath of a nuclear war; Testament, though, was emotionally grueling – it was the hardest to watch.

        Wasn’t growing up under the threat of nuclear annihilation fun?

  3. 6 contradextraavenue March 17, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I never watched it. I recall being distinctly uninterested. I just watched the attack scene on YouTube, and it was about what I would have expected. Although I think they got their science wrong with the effect of the EMP on the cars. I’d expect modern cars to be unstartable after one, given the computers and delicate sensors, but old carbureted cars with electromechanical ignition? Sure they might stall out from and EMP, but they’d start right up again.

    • 7 2W2N March 17, 2014 at 11:47 pm

      You’d know more about the science than me, but the EMP effect on cars was always used in nuke fiction, maybe because it’s dramatic. (UFOs apparently have the same effect.)

      I got a novel called Warday in ’85, and it was in there as well.

  4. 8 Fractalbat March 18, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    I remember when this aired. I caught parts of it, though my parents didn’t really want me to watch it. It was disturbing but I was already reading a lot about the topic even when I was that young.

    I remember my 8th grade teacher assigned us to read “On the Beach”, but she hadn’t read it herself. When she did she told us she was cancelling the assignment and we didn’t need to finish it, but several of us did. It didn’t give me nightmares but it was profoundly unnerving.

    • 9 2W2N March 19, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      For the record, I watched The Day After over the last couple of nights and could only get through the first hour and change. After the bombs go off, everyone started to act like an asshole, and I was done.

  5. 10 Dan August 19, 2015 at 1:15 am

    I remember first hearing about this while in high school. Our science teacher passed out and information packet about one week before it originally aired. Has anyone seen one of these? It was a bifold, magazine sized handout with a couple of pages of synopsis if I’m remembering correctly.

  6. 12 Tim November 13, 2016 at 6:45 am

    I was 13 when this aired and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a traumatic experience. I know a lot of people nowadays laugh and call the effects during the attack sequence cheesy, but those images of irradiated skeletons overlapped with the sounds of people moaning in agony haunted me during childhood for a long time afterwards. I couldn’t even watch the rest of the movie. November 21, 1983 is the only night I ever went to bed shaking from fear.

  7. 13 Steve March 20, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    “Letters from a Dead Man” – “Pisma myortvogo cheloveka” – 1986 – This is the third in the triad of nuclear horrors we were subjected to… Ted Turner imported this one and I remember it clearly… Well, now I have a copy to torment myself with, so it’s my own fault. This one has all the flaws and all the best features of Soviet cinema. It’s slow… But, it’s brutal in a poetic way that nicely rounds out the slightly soapy shocks of “The Day After” and the documentary horror of “Threads”.
    For those not sufficiently traumatized: Add – the animated “When the Wind Blows” (1986) and Peter Watkins’ “The War Game” from 1965. That’ll keep you under your desk for a while… knowing, as you cower, that it will do no good.
    Hell, after that you can watch “By Dawns Early Light ‘ for giggles…


  1. 1 TV Guide Ads for TV Movies: World War III (1982) | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on August 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm

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