B-Movie Inspirations: Def Con 4 (1985)
Def-Con 4 is a 1985 post-apocalyptic film, portraying three astronauts who survive World War III aboard a space station and return to Earth to find greatly changed circumstances. The astronauts – Howe (Time Choate), Walker (John Walsch) and Jordan (Kate Lynch) – are aboard a secret weapons platform satellite orbiting earth, armed with several nuclear missile. WWIII starts and they scramble to deal with the ramifications as well as their own personal situations of their orders to launch. They choose not to launch their payload. They lose all contact with the ground and observe what appears to be a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union on Earth.
Two months later, the guidance system is mysteriously reprogrammed to launch one of the pods to return to Earth. They are forced to launch the missiles they did not launch when the war broke out, and one misfires. The pod returns to Earth with one malfunctioning nuke.
The spacecraft lands on a beach in Canada. Jordan is knocked unconscious on impact. Walker exits first and is quickly killed by terminals – humans crazed by disease. Several hours later, in the middle of the night, Howe ventures out in search of help and a way to escape. He soon encounters more cannibals, survivalists as well as a sadistic military-school student-turned-despotic ruler – all the typical post-apocalypse tropes. In the end, the surviving heroes escape before a malfunctioning nuclear warhead explodes.
Much of this movie is fairly straightforward and predicable. I was amazed the main bad guy kept such great 80s hair through the apocalypse. I am writing about this in B-Movie Inspirations because I really like this kind of set up for a RPG one shot – party of astronauts on a space station in orbit over Earth , witnessing some kind of apocalyptic event. It could be WWIII or it could be an alien invasion – something that changes the world forever. The characters must return to Earth for some reason or another and accomplish some goal.