I was really hoping I would have the chance to watch my old VHS copy of the film prior to writing this article, as my memories of the movie are a little foggy in parts. Unfortunately, the VHS my father originally taped the film on, when it was broadcast on PBS, broke when he put it in to transfer to DVD.
RIP Threads VHS Tape
Threads is a BBC made-for-TV docu-drama that examines the effects of a fictional nuclear war on the United Kingdom in the 1980's. The main plot follows a young couple that plan to marry just as tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States escalate into an all-out nuclear war that eventually includes the UK. The film follows the young couple and their family as they struggle to survive the aftermath. The film is unrelenting in its depiction of the downfall of humanity and society after the nuclear war. The ending alone will leave you depressed for days.
Threads is not a sugar-coated Hollywood action movie. I've heard it's been compared to The Day After many times...a film I haven't seen, but I am pretty sure doesn't live up to the terrifying story that unfolds in Threads. A movie with John Lithgow and Steve Guttenberg in it and originally broadcast on ABC couldn't be that frightening.
Look up any review for Threads and you will see what I mean...everyone thinks this film is scary. Now when I say scary, I don't mean scary like the Exorcist or some slasher movie. If you really want to spoil it for yourself, just read the synopsis posted on Wikipedia or watch it somewhere on the web. This is the most realistic interpretation of a nuclear war you will probably ever see captured on film.
Threads was first released on VHS in 1987 and quickly went out of print and became a much sought-after item in the 1990's. More recently the film was re-released on DVD in 2005 by Revelation Label in the UK (Purchase the Region 2 PAL DVD from Amazon below to support this website).
I'm not sure how hard BBC World Wide is pushing this film in the international marketplace. I would hope a company like Criterion would have the balls to pick it up for a DVD release here in North America. Once again, we'll have to wait and see...