The romantic comedy is a genre that’s been popular since the golden age of Hollywood and has never failed to strike a chord with moviegoers. Audiences love to see two characters meet and overcome their obstacles to eventually fall into each other’s arms and live happily ever after. Unsurprisingly, there’s very few films in the genre that also feature the imminent annihilation of the human race in a fiery nuclear blast. This could likely be seen as a bit of a downer on date night.
It’s for this reason that it’s rather astonishing that a film like 1988’s Miracle Mile actually exists. Blending John Hughes style adolescent romance with the palpable horror of nuclear war, Miracle Mile is unlike any other romantic comedy that’s ever been made. Even ‘Rom-Zom-Com’ Shaun of the Dead looks rather twee compared to Miracle Mile’s unnerving blend of grim nihilism and sentimental romance.
Written and Directed by Steve De Jarnatt, Miracle Mile tells the story of a young couple who fall head over heels in love after meeting one afternoon in Los Angeles. Museum employee Harry (Anthony Edwards) and Julie (Mare Winningham) are completely struck by love at first sight and decide to meet again later that same evening. However, when Harry accidentally oversleeps, he finds himself alone at the diner they arranged to meet at in the early hours of the morning.
It’s here where the film drastically shifts gears. As Harry goes to call Julie on a payphone to apologise, he unwittingly intercepts a call from a panicked individual who tells him that nuclear bombs will rain down upon the U.S in an hours time. From here on out, the film plays out in quasi-real time as Harry rushes to find Julie and escort her to safety before the nuclear blast hits. As the clock ticks down, Miracle Mile manages to be funny, moving, thrilling and terrifying – often all at once.
Now considered a cult classic, Miracle Mile’s journey to the screen was a tricky one – with multiple studios rejecting the film due to its depressing subject matter. Ultimately, Hemdale Films – the independent studio behind films like The Terminator and Return of the Living Dead – gave Jarnett a modest budget to see out his apocalyptic vision. In many ways, Miracle Mile works as a companion piece to The Terminator, with both films showcasing the nighttime neon haze of 1980’s Los Angeles, all while the threat of nuclear destruction looms large.
Viewed today the film is certainly dated and occasionally uneven, but Miracle Mile remains an idiosyncratic thriller like no other. Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham are great as the star-crossed lovers and the film is populated with a who’s who of character actors from cult 80’s movies (including instantly recognisable faces from films like Robocop, Aliens & The Terminator). Plus, there’s a wonderfully atmospheric 80s score from synth legends Tangerine Dream.
Now arriving on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Arrow Video, Miracle Mile is finally given the treatment it deserves with a special edition that’s packed with features. Director Steve De Jarnatt talks about the challenges bringing the film to the screen in a brand new interview and also appears on two commentary tracks with other members of the crew. Other extras include engaging interviews with Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham as well as an interview with Paul Haslinger of Tangerine Dream.
With the President of the United States slinging nuclear threats by tweet, it’s the perfect time to reacquaint yourself with Miracle Mile. Fans of the movie will be blown away by the comprehensive collection of bonus features, while those uninitiated with the movie will discover a truly unique curio that sadly feels more relevant than ever.
Miracle Mile is available from Arrow Films Amazon HERE go grab yourself a copy today!
Words by Stephen Leigh