Def-Con 4 (1985) – Review

3 Stars


Def-Con 4 is a surprisingly thoughtful and very entertaining low-budget sci-fi film from the mid 1980’s. Released under the New World Productions banner, this cheapie is a gleaming example of good filmmaking under the conditions imposed by limited funds and resources. This isn’t the greatest B-movie of the era but it ranks on the upper echelon of the sub-genre.

Three NORAD Astronauts circling the earth from orbit, witness nuclear winter on their monitors, resulting in a catastrophic loss of lives, and a nearly inhabitable environment down below. Cut off from communications with ground control, the trio must face a tough decision, should they dump their nuclear payload as per orders or return to Earth and attempt to find harbor in a safe-zone?

A program malfunction send the rocketeers spiraling down through the atmosphere and crash landing outside of Portland, Oregon. However, things have changed substantially, civilization has come to a convulsive end and humanity has given way to marauding groups of barbarians, whose savage intent is to rape, pillage and terrorize the survivors of the fallout.

In this new wasteland, the astronauts must desperately fight for their survival, against the hordes of attackers and groups of paranoid survivalist. Leading the savages is a college-aged kid, baby-faced and full of murderous intent. It is up to the NORAD officers to find a sailboat and attempt to make it past the prevailing winds of nuclear rain.

File Def-Con 4 in the guilty pleasure category, a smile crossed my face when the end title card read: “The final victory has been won. Mankind can rest in peace”. If that line sparks the imagination and hints at the sense of low-brow fun contained herein, than Def-Con 4 is right up your alley.

Director: Paul Donovan
Stars: Lenore Zann, Maury Chaykin, Kate Lynch

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