Best nuclear war movies from the 80s

When I was a kid in the eighties, nuclear war was imminent. The cold war was still raging; President Reagan proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, and movies about the possible war were realistic. Some more than others. The Day After was one of them. I still remember how scared I was after we saw it. Even Reagan felt the same. He said: the movie was very effective and left me greatly depressed. And it doesn’t matter if he thought this way because I sure did. As a kid, I was scared of deadly viruses ( because of movies like Variola Vera and Cassandra crossing) and nuclear war. Primarily because of these movies:

The Day After

More than 100 million people watched this TV movie on ABC when it aired on 20 November 1983. It’s a story about the war between NATO and Warsaw Pact and the nuclear attack on the United States. We follow several characters from and around Kansas City and college town Lawrence before and after the attack. I loved this disaster movie structure – first, we met several people, and later, their paths crossed. This movie scared me the most. It vividly shows what would happen after a nuclear attack. Somehow you can watch an entire film on YouTube.

War games

War games is a less scary movie than all the others. It’s a story about a talented computer kid (young Mathew Broderick) who accidentally hacks into a military supercomputer. And he almost starts World war three thinking he’s communicating with a gaming company. Of course, everything happens when he tries to impress a girl. The director was John Badham.

Red Dawn

When Russians invade the United States, several teenagers from small-town Camulet, Colorado, led by Jed (Patrick Swayze), hide in a wilderness. And start to plan a counter-offensive. It’s not precisely nuclear war, but it is about the end of the world that we know. If you loved Red Dawn, don’t miss Tomorrow, When the War Began. It’s a similar story but in Australia.


In one of the movie clips from the movie on YouTube, the first comment is the Saddest movie I have ever watched in my life. And it’s sure close to the truth. It seems that people respond well to movies after the attack. In Testament, we follow The Wetherly family and the suburb of Hamelin, California, after the nuclear attack on the major US cities. The people of Hamelin decide to go on with their lives, but one by one, they start to die from radiation sickness.

I survived the 80s and fell in love with disaster movies. And books, so I wrote one. In my first book, Snow Outbreak, a group of guests is stranded in the first space hotel during the flu outbreak on Earth.