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Film: Testament
Testament is a 1983 film about the effects of a nuclear exchange on a small California community.

Unlike Threads and The Day After, which deal with the catastrophic effect of direct strikes, the town of Hamlin suffers no physical damage from the bombs. Instead the residents are forced to deal with the (literal) fallout, as well as gradual radiation poisoning and the drawn-out collapse of what's left of the world outside.

Despite the lack of Body Horror and Scenery Gorn, the film is laden with Nightmare Fuel and a judicious amount of Adult Fear.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The film is based on a short story The Last Testament by Carol Amen.
  • Adult Fear: The main character, Carol, is a mother of three children, two of whom die of radiation poisoning. The third is visibly sick by the end of the movie. Her husband, who was in San Francisco when the bombs were dropped, never comes home.
  • After the End
  • Apocalypse How: Class 1, possibly a Class 2.
  • Bittersweet Ending / Downer Ending: Most of the town, including two of Carol's children are dead, and she and her son are both dying from radiation poisoning, but she tells him they need to remember it all, "the good and the awful", for the sake of whoever might survive.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Radiation poisoning definitely counts.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Most characters succumb to one eventually.
  • Disappeared Dad: Tom doesn't make it back from San Francisco. Not surprising, considering it was obliterated.
  • Driven to Suicide: Subverted. Carol decides it would be better to commit suicide rather than die slowly of radiation poisoning, but she can't go through with it.
  • Emergency Broadcast: Briefly, before San Francisco is nuked and the signal is lost.
  • The End of the World as We Know It
  • Face Death with Dignity: What Carol and her oldest son eventually decide to do.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: At several points, most notably at the end of the film.
  • Happier Home Movie: The film juxtaposes home-movie footage, used to show the happy times of the family members who are the main characters, with life in the small town after the bomb.
  • Happily Adopted: Hiroshi, the developmentally disabled son of the owner of the town gas station, is happy to go with Carol after his father dies. Larry, a neighboring child, is also adopted when his parents don't return from San Francisco, but he's hardly happy.
  • Housewife: Carol was one.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Nobody actually says this, but a number of characters start wrapping themselves in blankets. Chills are a Real Life symptom of radiation sickness.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: A symptom of radiation poisoning, and a good sign that a character isn't going to live much longer.
  • Infant Immortality: Nope. Most of the children, and one actual infant, die of radiation poisoning.
  • Mama Bear: Carol.
  • Oh, Crap: On several occasions. The most obvious is the Emergency Broadcast, but a subtler one comes from Henry Abhart, who tells Carol's son Brad that he can no longer raise a reply from Santa Rosa, implying everyone there has been killed by the radiation. After Henry dies, Brad fails to contact anyone.
  • Potty Failure: A tragic example, as it becomes a symptom of radiation sickness. Scottie succumbs to his before he dies.
  • The Radio Dies First: That and the television. Henry has a ham radio that he uses to keep in touch with other communities, but no other technology works.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The characters never do learn who attacked, or why, and neither does the audience.
  • Sanity Slippage: Understandably, Carol has a little of this.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Averted. While there is a bright flash of light when San Francisco is hit, we never see anything blow up.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Carol is heard vomiting (another symptom of radiation poisoning), but it's only shown in silhouette.

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