DieDieBooks releases nuclear horror Threads essay, with plenty of nods to Lawrence’s The Day After

Threads by Bob Mielke

Threads by Bob Mielke is the newest addition to DieDieBooks’ series on horror films. // Courtesy of DieDieBooks

DieDieBooks, created by Rachel Kempf and Nick Toti in Kirksville, MO, is a publisher releasing a series of film criticism in anthology style—each release is a stand-alone book about a different horror film, each written by a different author. As part of the first ‘season’ of titles from the new Missouri publisher, a full-length look at the cult-classic nuclear horror film Threads is out now from author Bob Mielke. 

Threads is a 1984 film that shows the lead-up, destruction, and years-long aftermath of a nuclear attack, with painstaking detail. It is set in Sheffield, England, and was originally commissioned by the BBC to show the true dangers of the Cold War. Thanks to its stark portrayal of nuclear holocaust during an era of Cold War high tension, this film has long remained a horrifying pillar of that era, in its attempts to scare straight world powers. 

To capture the import and payload of the British title, no author could be more fitting than Mielke. While not a traditional film critic like other authors in the DieDieBooks imprint, Mielke is a nuclear activist and researcher in addition to his work as a professor at Truman University, where he teaches an interdisciplinary seminar on nuclear warfare. 

To have a nuclear scientist-level take on a nuclear science horror film is certainly an unexpected angle for a full-length essay about a genre film. Mielke delivers on his potential by turning over a wildly engaging text but equally singular in perspective—no one else could have written this, and you feel smarter just for having picked up his treatise.

One of the central elements of the book is Mielke’s comparison to the 1983 film The Day After, a movie that hits especially close to home for Kansas Citians because it was set in Kansas City, Lawrence, and some surrounding farmland. 

“They’re linked because they’re both about the impact of a global nuclear war on a community,” Mielke says. “But they’re also very different for a couple of reasons.”

One difference Mielke mentions is that The Day After is better classified as a disaster film that includes nuclear warfare, while Threads could only be classified as horror. Also, while Threads is considered a better film, he argues that The Day After actually did more to dissolve the nuclear threat in the 1980s. 

Threads might be more horrific, but Britain was never a major player in the Cold war like the Soviet Union and America. Setting Threads in a small town in England was less realistic than The Day After destroying multiple communities in the midwest United States. In addition, The Day After was a Hollywood film, so it was manufactured to appeal to most movie watchers. Threads has more of a cult following. However, as Mielke discusses in his book, the film Threads had a better storyline and production on a much smaller budget.Screenshot 2023 03 06 At 112023 Am

With the rising threat of nuclear destruction bearing down on the world again today, these films and the Threads book become even more pertinent. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight this year, the closest the clock has ever been. This is meant to tell the world how close we are to nuclear destruction.

In 1984 when Threads was commissioned to diffuse the impending nuclear warfare, the Doomsday Clock was only set to three minutes to midnight. 

“Why doesn’t somebody make a film like [Threads] now?” Mielke asks. “I think the answer is that they wouldn’t get the money to do it. I mean, to me, it could be done in a very fresh way because there’s all sorts of new wrinkles in the current world situation, but people just don’t seem to want to.”

If this fact alone scares you as it does me, Threads and The Day After are really going to be a shock to the system. Even Mielke says he is taking a break from nuclear warfare for a while and is beginning to write a novel.

DieDieBooks has other exciting releases for the series following Threads. You can purchase a copy of Threads on the DieDieBooks website.

Categories: Movies