Do you want to hear an embarrassing confession? I don’t like disaster movies because they actually scare me. Remember when it was a fad in the 80s to make TV movies about nuclear war? Yeah, I didn’t watch any of them. But I found Special Bulletin recently, and because I’m a sucker for a good mockumentary, I decided to face my fears and watch it.
As it turns out, I’m glad I did, although I’m not sure if I could ever watch it again. This is the story of a radical anti-nuke group who hold Charleston, S.C. hostage with, irony alert, a homemade nuclear bomb in an effort to force the government to disarm all 900 nuclear weapons in Charleston. Because it is a drama, even though (or maybe especially because) the crazy terrorists actually think they’re on a positive mission, things don’t turn out well for anyone. And I’m not sure when I’ve been so emotionally devastated by a movie. I’m talking Terms of Endearment level ugly crying out of me. Who knew that sometimes TV movies aren’t cheesetastic? Sometimes they even win Emmys.
Filled with great “that guy” actors, including Sledge Hammer, the love interest from Highlander the movie, and even a cameo by Michael Madsen as a man on the street being interviewed, Special Bulletin is really worth your time in a way that much of what I review here is not. If you have an interest in the way our government deals with terrorism, or in the way the news media can become a character in the real-life dramas they’re supposed to be giving an unbiased report about, you need to see this.
While, despite any disclaimers, several people in Charleston did call the authorities during the original broadcast to see if the film was real, it is interesting to note that Special Bulletin did not cause near the level of panic that Ghostwatch did when it played on British TV. Are we more afraid of ghosts than of bombs? I can tell you that for me, particularly in the aftermath of seeing this movie, it’s a bomb that I’m looking over my shoulder for tonight. This is not a horror movie, but it is horrific. Still, I recommend it for when you find yourself in a serious mood.
Oh, and be forewarned: if you comment to tell me that nothing of value would be lost if someone annihilated the coast of South Carolina, I will delete your comment. Thanks in advance for not doing that.