The Chain Reaction
The Chain Reaction is a 1980 Australian independent disaster/science fiction thriller film directed and written by Ian Barry. The film stars Steve Bisley and Arna-Maria Winchester. The film's plot is about an engineer badly injured in an accident caused by an earthquake. He knows that the nuclear waste will poison the groundwater and wants to warn the public.
|The Chain Reaction|
Theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Ian Barry|
|Produced by||David Elfick|
|Written by||Ian Barry|
|Music by||Andrew Thomas Wilson|
|Edited by||Tim Wellburn|
Palm Beach Pictures
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||A$796,000 (Australia)|
The movie features many cast members from Mad Max, among them Mel Gibson as a bearded mechanic, in an uncredited cameo. The taglines used in advertising the film included "A fast drive to Paradise turns into a nuclear nightmare!" and "Mad Max meets The China Syndrome"; the latter referring to the car chase and nuclear accident.
An earthquake in rural Australia causes a dangerous leak at WALDO (acronyms of Western Atomic Longterm Dumping Organisation), a nuclear waste storage facility. Heinrich Schmidt (Ross Thompson) an engineer badly contaminated in the accident, knows that the leak will poison the groundwater for hundreds of miles around and wants to warn the public. His boss, however, is only interested in protecting himself and believes that the accident should be covered up, when in fact the contamination risks thousands of lives. Heinrich escapes from the facility but is badly injured. Lost in the woods and suffering from amnesia, he is rescued by Larry Stilson (Steve Bisley), a car mechanic on holiday, and his wife Carmel (Arna-Maria Winchester). As Heinrich tries to piece together his memories of what happened, his boss' thugs are quickly closing in on the trio.
- Steve Bisley — Larry Stilson
- Arna-Maria Winchester — Carmel Stilson
- Ross Thompson — Heinrich Schmidt
- Ralph Cotterill — Gray
- Hugh Keays-Byrne — Eagle
- Lorna Lesley — Gloria
- Richard Moir — Junior Constable Pigott
- Patrick Ward — Oates
- Laurie Moran — Police Sgt. McSweeney
- Michael Long — Doctor
- Bill McCluskey — Ralph
- Margo Lloyd — Molly
- Tim Burns — Survey driver
- Mel Gibson — Bearded mechanic (uncredited)
The film was the idea of director Ian Barry. He had been talking to producer David Elfick about making a film called Sparks about a blind film director, based on a short film he had made, but Elfick thought the subject matter would be too difficult to finance. Barry had written another film, a thriller then entitled The Man at the Edge of the Freeway, and Elfick decided to make that instead. The movie was budgeted at $600,000 but the Australian Film Commission thought it was too high so it was re-budgeted at $450,000. George Miller came on the project as associate producer.
Funding came from the Australian Film Commission, Victorian Film Corporation and Hoyts. Shooting started in September 1979 and took place in Glen Davis and Sydney, both located in New South Wales in Australia. Elfick says the location at Glen Davis was rumoured to be the site of an aboriginal massacre and was supposed to be cursed; he believed it because filming was extremely difficult.
Filming took longer than expected and the movie went 40% over budget. George Miller was brought in to shoot the car chase sequences, which featured the Ford Fairlane LTD in most scenes as the preferred vehicle of the antagonistic authority chasing Larry's modified Holden utility vehicle (Ute). David Elfick also filmed some second unit.
The film was distributed in Australia by the Palm Beach Picture, join with Victorian Film Corporation and Australian Film Commission and released on 25 September. In the United States the film's distributor was Warner Bros., and in the United Kingdom it was Columbia-EMI-Warner.
|The Chain Reaction|
|Soundtrack album by |
Andrew Thomas Wilson
|Genre||Rock, film score|
- "Awakening" (1:46)
- "The Beast" (4:17)
- "Decontamination" (2:05)
- "Heinrich's Theme" (3:00)
- "WALDO" (1:17)
- "A Swim in the River" (1:48)
- "Chain Reaction" (4:52)
- "Once More with Feeling" (3:00)
- "Paradise Valley" (1:03)
- "Car Chase" (4:31)
- "Carmel's Theme" (1:38)
- "WALDO Arrives" (1:57)
- "The Hand at the Window" (0:42)
- "Message to a Friend" (End tiles)(4:28)
Awards and critical reception
(1980 AFI Awards)
|Best Supporting Actress||Lorna Lesley||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Russell Boyd||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Tim Wellburn||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||Graham 'Grace' Walker||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Norma Moriceau||Nominated|
|Saturn Award||Best International Film||Nominated|
Titles around the world
- Detector (Italy)
- Ketjureaktio (Finland)
- Die Kettenreaktion (West Germany)
- Nuclear Run
- Peligro: reacción en cadena (Spain)
- Perigo...Reacção em Cadeia (Portugal)
- Skotoste ton, xerei polla! (Greece)
- The Man at the Edge of the Freeway* (Australia)
- Thills and Nuclear Spills: The making of the film (31:37)
- The Sparks Obituary (24:50)
- Deleted and extended scenes (8:14)
- TV Spot (0:32)
- Poster and Still gallery (2:54)
- Umbrella trailers
The world-wide distribution rights were bought by Warner Bros studio, which put the film instantly in profit. The Chain Reaction grossed $796,000 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $2,825,800 in 2009 dollars.
- David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p247-248
- Mel Gibson filmography, imdb
- Titles with cerficate: Australia: M
- David Stratton, The Last New Wave: The Australian Film Revival, Angus & Robertson, 1980 p285
- "GrindhouseDatabase - The Chain Reaction". Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- "Cinephilia - The Chain Reaction". Archived from the original on 22 September 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- "Inbaseline". Retrieved 1 November 2010.
- "Andrew Thomas Wilson-The Chain Reaction-Original Soundtrack". Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- AFI Awards Nominees and Winners at IMDb
- Saturn Awards Nominees and Winners at IMDb
- "movies.tvguide.com - The Chain Reaction". Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- "Yahoo! Movies: The Chain Reaction - Movie Info". Retrieved 13 January 2010.
- "The Chain Reaction - DVD details". Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- "The Chain Reaction - DVD". Retrieved 12 January 2010.
- Thrills and Nuclear Spills: The Making of 'The Chain Reaction' (video short) (2005)
- "Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2010.