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Exploring Chernobyl Diaries – Episode 129

Another entry in my “Exploring” series. This time around I take a deeper look into the Chernobyl disaster and how it influenced the horror film Chernobyl Diaries. This episode is one of the more serious ones I’ve done since I just couldn’t bring myself to add any comedy. The Chernobyl disaster was one of the things that changed my perspective on the world so it only felt right to do this one seriously.

28 Responses to “Exploring Chernobyl Diaries – Episode 129”

  • Cristiona:

    Completely off topic, but it’s too bad Chicago Code only lasted one season. I liked it.

    I have to admit, I didn’t even give ths one much thought, mainly because of the outright skewering most reviews gave it. I remember when Chernobyl happened and, yeah, it kind of leaves an impression on you. I later learned that it was built with the nuclear equivilent of bubble gum and chicken wire, but that doesn’t make it any less scary.

    I might have to give this one a shot after all.

    • Cecil:

      That seems to be the thing with tv shows on major networks these days. Well written? Small but loyal following? CANCEL IT!

      The extra scary thing is how many times they knew the reactor would fail but just did nothing.

      I think you’ll like the movie if you check it out. Its a solid little flick with some great locations that really make you feel like you are there.

  • Tony M:

    I often watch your vids on blip and had to comment on this one, so found the site.

    As to the “should one make such a movie” complaint, I admit I’m a bit of both sides myself.
    I’m from New Orleans, and while I wasn’t in town for the worst of Katrina (I left the night before it hit & was staying in a hotel in Mississippi) I feel I’m close enough to a ‘disaster survivor’ to have say.

    On one hand, I feel like if in 20 years people are forgetting it happened and someone makes a movie about it, I won’t be upset.
    Hell, when I first came back to work on cleaning out & repairing my place & I saw how abandoned the city was, part of me felt like shooting some “After the End” movie right then.

    But at the same time, I feel like I’d only be okay with a Katrina/post-katrina related movie if it “Handled it right.”
    I didn’t see the whole “Beasts of Southern Wild” because to me it felt exploitative, like they were using the real bad things that happened to my home as a cheap grab for attention “Artistic” or not.

    I think it’s natural people react more strongly to the idea of Chernobyl than Titanic or even 9/11 because of a few factors.
    1-More people are alive who remember it as part of their lifetime.
    2-9/11 was played non-stop for days on TV anyway, at least here in America we’re reminded of it non-stop anyway, so it became part of the “cultural language” not “just” a tragedy that was of NY & Washington.
    It may be absolute bullshit, but it’s how lots of people view it, hence why you’ll find someone who never visited NY or Washington & isn’t even remotely related to anyone who was killed in it, but has a “NEVER FORGET” tattoo or bumper sticker.

    Anyway, rambling aside, I acknowledge it’s all kinda contradictory, but that’s how people are.
    Like I said, I thought about using empty streets for a movie, but was upset someone else used did a movie inspired by the same event. People are strange.

    • Cecil:

      Completely understandable. Yikes, glad you weren’t around for the worst of Katrina. That whole thing was a nightmare.

      I just wanted to point out the hypocrisy of the movie. So many were offended but had no problem playing CoD, where you shoot Nazis zombies. Nothing wrong with that in my book but it seemed silly to be offended by one and not the other.

      In the end as you said, people are strange.

      Oh and thanks for making your way here. Comments are always welcome!

  • Oh Man, I almost forgot about the inflatable Titanic slide! They used to have that out at the fairgrounds when I was a little kid.

    I didn’t give this film too much thought because of all the negative press about it being just another “dumb kids get killed” movie and had been misinformed that it was a found footage flick. I can see this “documentary feel” you’re talking about and might check it out the next time I’m at the Redbox.

  • Lucas:

    This might just be me… but I thought that the plot could have made an interesting CHUD 3. CHUD-noble Diaries anyone?

  • katie:

    im 15 and have always been curious about stuff like chernobyl so when i heard about this movie i thought it sounded cool but just never got around to watch it due to many things i heard but after hearing your video it’s made me curious again thanks dude

    • Cecil:

      Thanks! There is a lot of stuff out there about Chernobyl. Look up “kiddofspeed” if you want to see the girl who drove through Pripyat on a motorcycle. Lots of good pictures. There are also some sad documentaries out there, a few on youtube.

  • Dany:

    Hi, Cecil.
    I lived in a city about 100 km away from Pripyat’ down the Dnepr river. The thing that a lot of people forget to mention or don’t know is that the majority of people of Ukraine or USSR weren’t notified about the disaster until May 3rd or so, because May 1st and 2nd were a huge communist holiday with public parades and such. I was about 5 years old in 1986 and since then I don’t believe any official media in anything.

    When we were actually told what happened, we took our car and drove about thousand kilometers to our relatives in another republic to stay for a month. I was returned to the city for a day twice between travels between different relatives, and during those visits our streets were completely devoid of children. There was no lost toys like in Pripyat’, everything was pristine clean, bright green grass, cool wind, warm sun – with no children on streets at all, no animals either and very few adults I can recall. Windows were packed with plastic because it was rumored it helped to keep the radioactive dust off, and notebooks were filled with half-life of various radioactive elements.

    In September we had to return to the city and continue like it was nothing.

    Zone in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a bit of mix-up, really. “Zone” and stalkers that went in in a search of mysterious artifacts were a main part of the book called “The Roadside picnic” ( written by the most critically acclaimed SF writers of USSR in 1972 and widely known as such but in the book the Zone was an alien oddity. Zone” also means the jailplace, especially penal colony. When Chernobyl happened 30km area around it was designated as a closed, high-risk zone for obvious reasons. There were rumors of mutated animals and strange effects in the 30km zone, and on the wave of Glastnost’ the event was massively discussed both in proper and yellow press, so eventually those three different zones merged. Later there were rumors that some people went into Pripyat and stole various abandoned items and metals like copper to make a profit with no regards to the health of buyers. When I first saw the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. the concept of Zone in it wasn’t anything new for me because it is how it already was in my childhood.

    Sorry for the big text, just wanted to share some personal experience with topic.

    • Cecil:

      Thank you so much for the added insight. While I can only say what I’ve learned over the years and research, it is no substitute for actually living through it being there. That is scary to think that so many people were just staying there when they really should have been evacuated. Terrifying.

      I did know about the holiday, since that was why they had the ferris wheel and the festival rides.

      I was under the impression that the scattered debris was from looters but someone else told me that people brought the debris in and threw it around to make for better photographs.

      I know the Stalker game took some elements from Roadside picnic and then added the Chernobyl disaster to sort of make it its own thing. This makes me really want to go back and play the games. I have Metro Last Light sitting here as well.

      This was great! (a sad subject but very interesting) Thanks so much for sharing!

      • Dany:

        Our city was considered ‘safe’, at least as far as official sources went, so maybe parade wasn’t such a big deal at least for us, but it doesn’t mean that the health and well-being of other people weren’t put at the great risk. Still people I remember that May were utterly terrified, panicked and didn’t know what to believe. Any superstition, any rumor how to save yourself were used. My dad paid big money and got a tool to measure radiation, and checked everything with it, even bread, well into the autumn.

        I didn’t know about added debris, though. When I saw a first documentary on Pripyat’, I think it was around 1993, the place already looked as broken as I’ve seen it in later documentaries.

        Lucky you, I have to wait until at least until weekend to go into Metro 🙂

        Anyway, thank you for listening to my words and thank you for making all those videos – I enjoy all of them very much.

        • Cecil:

          Thanks again for sharing!

          I can’t imagine how terrifying all this must have been. I know how unsettled I felt and I was just over here in the US.

    • Marco:

      Fascinating! Thank you for telling your story!

      The only thing I remember about direct influence of this terrible disaster is that nature was dangerous. What I mean is: for a long time it was forbidden to pic up and eat certain things like mushrooms or wild strawberries from the forrest. I can remember I had a deep suspicion of wild fruits and vegetables when growing up.

      • Dany:

        Hey, Marco

        Yes, this too, – I remember my grandmother saying ‘don’t ever walk on grass’ when I was back into city for a couple of days.
        Although I was never lucky to find any mushrooms at all but I loved wild strawberries. But I still don’t pick them up unless I know the area is at least industry-free.

  • Joshnorm:

    I love these type of reviews. Similar to the Happening where you just take a critism and the counter point the hell out of them. Great episode, now I’m off to find this movie

    • Cecil:

      Thank you. These are really tough for me to do because it is very hard to find that magic sweet spot of interesting without going into infodump. I do enjoy doing them because I feel that, like you said, they need the counterpoint. So many people just flat out trash movies like this unfairly. (and often without even seeing it!)

      Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

  • Marco:

    I’ve never heard about this movie, but I was instantly fascinated. I was born in the very early 80s and there also was a atomic power plant near my home village. I guess it was even closer at around 12 km. The GAU (german for MCA) was always in my head. I guess that+ the beeing on the west german border of the cold war implanted a certain sensibility in me about this topic… and a deep fascination about “ending of the world stories” (STALKER even with bugs was awesome)!

    I’m happy to hear this movie made it’s money back. Maybe it’ll grow on people after the initial demission. Best of luck to them!

    And hell…. please don’t kill me. I know that damn song at the end… but what was it’s name (I’ve just the cover version of JBO (german fun-metal-cover band in my head)?

    • Cecil:

      There is a combo of things that have made me fascinated with the End of the world scenarios as well. STALKER is outstanding. So much atmosphere that is missing in other games.

      I think after this hits cable in more regular rotation more people will hopefully give it a shot and see it is a solid movie. Or they’ll say they saw it and continue on with the “it sucks worst thing ever” train.

      The outtro song was No Reflection by Marilyn Manson

  • john:

    This guy lived in 3 mile Island and it didn’t really seem to affect him.

    Hooray for obscure 90’s reference. 🙂

    Actually surprised that people would be offended about a film set in Chernobyl seems like the perfect backdrop for a good horror/survival film set in a mysterious location plus the fact they have an annual STALKER festival in Ukraine.

  • MVandi:

    Gods above and below I wish I could see the Locke & Key pilot.

  • Jr.:

    Saw this movie few days ago and I gotta say it was pretty unnerving although I have to agree that the third act is a bit weaker than the first two. I love extreme tourism and, despite the fact we dont have too much of it out here in So Cal, we make best of we do. You gotta try it out some time and maybe post some of it here.

  • Ric:

    I had a buddy who watched this and said terrible things about it. It got knocked way down on my list of things to view. Your review just bumped it way back up.

  • Tristan:

    I loved the Jericho show, it’s never on anymore and I can’t find it anywhere! It really sucks because the show was amazing.

    • Cecil:

      Jericho was awesome. I think it was too serious for most folks but at least we got 2 seasons.

      It’s currently streaming on Netflix if you have it.

  • mogens:

    1.i think you are being unfair on the tree stooges movie i think is was great so you are wrong man
    2.arehh come on the clash of the titans remake was not that bad

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