The Real World: Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape
July 19, 2012 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me track down this Cube-esque, straight-to-video nuclear bomb shelter paranoia film (with a shocking twist!).

Reading the recent thread about Threads and the ensuing discussion of different nuclear horror movies reminded me of a film I saw about a decade ago, but can't seem to find after much googling.

Here's what I can recall:

It was a straight-to-VHS movie, almost certainly never put into wide theatrical release. The quality of the production was fairly cheap, probably made in the late 80s to early 2000s (most likely in the mid/late 90s). I remember seeing a pre- or post-film promo for the studio behind it, an indie affair with a name like "The Factory"/"The Foundry"/"The Underground" or something similar that did a lot of work in low-budget horror and sci-fi. But it wasn't a totally anonymous work -- I did get this from Blockbuster, so they must have had some industry presence.

The movie was about a small group of regular people in an underground bunker, basement, or bomb/fallout shelter. It was pretty sparse, just dingy concrete floors and walls and lots of low-wattage fluorescent light.

They were hiding from an imminent nuclear war -- I seem to recall one character following the news on a shortwave radio, and then there being a big concussion that shook the whole room. From that point on it was a study in cabin fever, with characters fighting over dwindling supplies and arguing over the effects of radiation and whether it was safe to go outside. It struck me as very similar in that regard to the movie Cube, with scared, paranoid personalities bouncing off each other in a confined, dangerous space.

One image I remember in particular is one character opening the door to the outside and seeing a fiery, irradiated nightmarescape rendered in cheesy 90s CGI -- I think they may have even seen some kind of horribly mutated monster -- but it turns out to have been just a dream.

The characters and plot details are fuzzy -- I think some of them may have fought each other, maybe even shot/killed -- but I do remember the twist ending: they finally decide to brave the risks and open the door... only to find a perfectly normal, sunny day outside. The entire thing was a hoax, engineered for some kind of social experiment or reality TV show if I remember right. The crew even had heavy construction equipment and/or explosives positioned above the bunker to simulate an atomic blast.

I've searched all over Google, Wikipedia, and IMDb's tag search but can't find any leads... help?
posted by Rhaomi to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have it on the tip of my brain too. The cellar they're locked in had a very distinctive white ceramic tile look to it.
posted by Oktober at 3:21 PM on July 19, 2012

posted by likeso at 3:41 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Imdb entry.
posted by likeso at 3:46 PM on July 19, 2012

Response by poster: YES. I think. I don't remember it being a foreign film, and the cover art doesn't look very familiar, but the plot details are dead on. There's precious little information about it on the web, especially video. But unless there was some even more obscure remake/rip-off, I'll mark Best Answer. Thank you!
posted by Rhaomi at 3:54 PM on July 19, 2012

Is it a good movie?
posted by cmcmcm at 10:24 AM on July 20, 2012

Response by poster: I don't remember it well enough to say for certain (plus I saw it when I was like 13), but it doesn't stand out in my mind as particularly great. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't imagining things after my normally strong Google Fu turned up zilch.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:39 AM on July 20, 2012

Response by poster: DISASTER. Against all odds, I managed to find a torrent download of Il Giorno Prima/Control with Burt Lancaster... and it's almost certainly *not* the movie I saw. The plot is almost identical, but everything else is different -- the characters don't look familiar, the bunker is far more elaborate than the spartan basement I remember, and the scene of them emerging looks nothing like the sunny LA skate park/canal environment I had in mind.

So maybe this 1987 original had a remake (or knockoff) done by some indie studio in the 90s? Gah, this is so frustrating. The upcoming flick The Divide with a very similar "people in a bomb shelter go stir-crazy" plot isn't helping my search.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:05 PM on July 22, 2012

Well, blast (shelter). Sorry Rhaomi, I was pretty sure about it. And now I'm gonna be picking at this. Any idea at all about the actors? Even just a description of their physical appearance might help.
posted by likeso at 6:18 PM on July 22, 2012

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
After exhausting my investigative and crowdsourcing powers, I was resigned to thinking this was some combination of Il Giorno Prima/Control, snatches of other media, and maybe a dream I had once. But then out of the blue somebody on Reddit messaged me about my cross-post on /r/tipofmytongue wondering if I'd ever solved it, on account of a similar post recently looking for the same thing. They'd also found this 2002 forum post describing a very close match. Inspired, I started trawling IMDb and Google Images again, finding that Fallout movie it described (close but no cigar), an intriguing title called Shelter I could find almost zero info on, and then... JACKPOT: The Omega Diary, a 1999 no-budget straight-to-video film that matches my recollection perfectly -- shortwave radio, barebones shelter, a gun, and even a cast list that features "Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse" as one of the roles (presumably that irradiated mutant I remembered). I've already got a used VHS copy in the mail! I'm *so* relieved I didn't hallucinate this. Thanks for your help, everybody.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:30 PM on June 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

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