Nearly 73 years after the first atomic bomb was detonated in Hiroshima to unspeakable results, the fear of nuclear war has hung over the human race like a massive guillotine blade, always ready to instantly end civilization and possibly the planet Earth as we know it. While those fears receded over the course of the last 28 years – as the Berlin Wall fell, the Cold War ended, and the world’s superpowers eased back on their furious pace of building and arming bigger and more destructive weapons – the specter of such a conflict has reared its ugly head again in just the last year, as the White House and North Korea have exchanged taunts, threats, and warnings. We’ll skip the politics of the current situation, but the truth is that there are no politics when it comes to nuclear conflict, just as there really are no “Winnable” scenarios no matter how many times military strategists may game it out. Nuclear war is a lose-lose situation every time, and a possibility simply too awful and terrifying to contemplate. It’s been pondered over and over again these past eight decades, not just by governments and generals but filmmakers and writers and everyday citizens. This week marks the Blu-ray debut of what may be the single most horrific film about nuclear war and its aftermath ever made, and with things the way they are these days it might be a good time to revisit that movie and keep the horror of it fresh in our minds. Starting with films that took us to the brink, and counting down to those that passed the point of no return, here are 14 films meant to terrify us about the threat of nuclear apocalypse … and hopefully we’ll never know how close to the truth any of them came.

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