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Top 10 Great Works of Nuclear Cinema

The public needs to watch these 10 movies to fully comprehend the threat of nuclear power.

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10. Kiss Me Deadly

This one may be considered a cheat by some. But director Robert Aldrich's perverse noir potboiler is actually one of the strangest nuclear cinema experiments ever committed to culture. Based on Mickey Spillane's gut-busting mystery novel, whose concerns with the mafia were subversively cast off by screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides, Kiss Me Deadly posited detective Mike Hammer as a sadistic narcissist too stupid to notice the nuclear catastrophe at the center of his brutal investigations. Its climactic radioactive suitcase eventually found its irraditated way into future film classics like Alex Cox's Repo Man and Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. But since its 1955 premiere, Kiss Me Deadly's simultaneous violence and impotence has become practically encoded in our post-millennial culture as a fail-safe reflex. 

What is our nuclear industry, but a deadly kiss whose attraction isn't worth the annihilation? The disaster capitalists should watch the end of Kiss Me Deadly, where the film's punishing hero becomes little more than a willing dupe in an apocalyptic endgame. While he sadistically chases sex, money and cars, the game theory over his head starts to fracture and spiral out of control. Too bad he didn't watch his own film, or any of the others on this list, and wake up early enough to survive the existential endgame.

Scott Thill runs the online mag His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others.

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