Colin Davies’ A to Z of Horror: A is for Atom

OK, so just how does one follow the amazing job that Ashley Lister did on his A-Z of horror? I know, with my own version. Not just a rehash of the format. If I am going to follow the master, then I must play to my strengths. So, in this A-Z of horror I will give a brief description of the reasons for my choice, followed by a poem about the subject. 26 poems about horror? Oh yes, I can.


A is for Atom


After the original boom in horror films, off the back of the great works from some of the most celebrated gothic authors in the history of the genre, terror on film took a bit of a slump. Most of this was due to the horrors people went through in real life during World War II. By the 1950s the scare factory started up again, only this time, it was in the atomic age.


People had no idea what atomic power was capable of, but they knew how destructive it could be, and this made it an unknown terror. The concept of mutations filled horror comics and stories. Nature Runs Amok films and stories starts to emerge. Films like Them (1954) with its tom-bomb-made giant ants or Attack of the 50-foot Woman (1958) again focusing on the growing powers of nuclear science. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) had an ancient creature revived by the testing of an A-Bomb in the ocean. The Japanese, with their perspective of being on the receiving end of the only nuclear weapons ever used in war, gave the world kaiju (1953) though he is better known around the world as Godzilla.


One film that gave me nightmares for many years was The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). This tale of a man who entered a radioactive mist whilst on a boat then began to shrink, was truly terrifying. The image of him hiding behind a matchbox just before killing an enormous spider with a sewing needle still haunts me.


The Atomic age gave rise to so many 1950s B-movies. Even though the aftermaths of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl and far too many warhead tests in our oceans gave us nothing more than death, destruction, and poisoned natural resources, they still have some very valuable lessons for future generations. Stop. Destroying. The. Planet.



The air is filled with fire.
The sea is awash with soured wine.
Generations pass with advanced evolution.
Giant ants kill and devour and destroy and all with no malice.
Creatures are awakened and as gods, step out of the sea
She is a giant,                RUN!               She will kill us.
He will                   DIE                     Small,
The King
of the Monsters
shall rise.
As death
is the
Atomic solutions.
New Clear Thinking.


(NB: This concrete poem looks better when viewed on a computer monitor or larger tablet. The shape of the mushroom cloud may be lost on a smartphone.)

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