TNB Night Owl–Radioactive Dreams

Wheel of cheese cut and stacked in front of a stone wall. Photo by Alexander Maasch.

This is going to be a two-person Owl, as there’s no way I could write about RADIOACTIVE DREAMS (1985) without including AlienMotives. This movie has a romantic, sentimental place in our hearts…which feels weird to say about a movie featuring the line, “That was our first encounter with Disco Mutants.” But it fits, so here we are.

I’ll set the stage: The year, 2008. The place, a hotel in Denver for a science fiction convention. AM and I were dating but not married yet. I had a bit of a reputation for my knowledge of weird and obscure movies. He mentions to me his favorite, RADIOACTIVE DREAMS. I had never heard of it. After a few minutes of gloating that he’d seen a movie I hadn’t heard of, we decided to kill some time in the hotel in between tornado warnings and food poisoning bouts from cold street vendor hot dogs. Thanks to the joys of questionable downloads via hotel wireless, we were able to have a movie night.

I could see the appeal of RADIOACTIVE DREAMS, especially to him. The movie starts out with two young boys being thrown into a bomb shelter as nuclear explosions begin. The boys are stuck in isolation with only instruction manuals and pulp detective novels to keep them entertained for the next fifteen years.

In the far future date of 2001, the boys (now men) have finally tunneled from their underground home. Waiting outside is a post-nuclear wasteland, populated by denziens including the abovementioned Disco Mutants, cannibals, death metal zombies, and…well, oddities. Our heroes, Phillip and Marlowe, are armed with only their ephemeral knowledge and a worldview shaped by world-weary private eyes. Together they must find the two keys that trigger the last nuclear bomb in the world before more sinister forces do.

I’ll let AM take over from here:

She mentions a reputation for weird movies. That’s an understatement. My wife has been a professional reviewer for magazines and web sites devoted to odd and underground films, and is regularly called upon to provide movies no other staffer has seen. Her knowledge is deceptive, because she is unfamiliar with anything beyond the title and a handful of stars for the vast majority of blockbusters, but she isn’t often caught short by an unusual film. I was pleased, feeling as if I could offer her a present with this movie.

She immediately recognized the director and started mentioning his other works, information that hadn’t even occurred to me to learn… despite having seen the movie repeatedly.

I first saw Radioactive Dreams off of a rented VHS while I was in the Navy. It was goofy, and it felt like the screenwriter was trying to keep himself entertained while producing the script. There were distinct archetypes from 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s films, and musical styles from each era found their way onto the soundtrack. The movie even plays at being artistic with a sepia-toned opening that bursts into color as the young men leave their bomb shelter home.

It’s as if the movie makers wanted the viewer to know that this movie could be taken very seriously indeed… but that they decided to just have fun with it instead. I smiled repeatedly through the film, and I was hoping to elicit a similar reaction from my then-girlfriend.

I did. I hope you enjoy it too.

The movie is on YouTube broken into two separate parts:

QUESTION OF THE NIGHT: What’s something you’ve done to try and impress a date?

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