Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1980s Chain Reaction, The (1980)

Chain Reaction, The (1980)

Produced in the wake of the worldwide success of Mad Max, this film reunited many of that film’s cast and crew (Mel Gibson even has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo as a mechanic) to cash in on the public’s new thirst for the Australian apocalypse genre.

An earthquake in outback Western Australia causes a dangerous leak at WALDO, a nuclear waste storage facility.

Heinrich Schmidt (Ross Thompson), a German engineer exposed to a lethal dose of radiation 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 the accident should be covered up, even at the expense of thousands of lives.


Heinrich escapes from the facility but is too badly injured to get very far. He manages to contact an anti-nuclear protest leader named Eagle (Hugh Keays-Byrne who played the villain Toecutter in Mad Max), who plans on helping Heinrich get the word out about the impending dangers.

Lost in the woods and suffering from amnesia, Heinrich is rescued by Larry (Steve Bisley, who starred as Goose in Mad Max), an everybloke auto mechanic on vacation with his nurse wife, Carmel (Arna-Maria Winchester) in their remote cabin.

With only days left to live, Heinrich tries to piece together his memories of what happened but the corporate baddies (dressed in white anti-nuclear suits) are quickly closing in on the trio – accompanied by psychopathic hitman Gray (Ralph Cotterill) and his sidekick Oates (Patrick Ward).

Local cop Constable Piggott (Richard Moir) proves singularly useless at everything except preening and strutting, and his boss Sergeant McSweeney (Laurie Moran) would rather be fishing in the infected streams.

Eventually, Larry and Carmel are captured by the authorities and given a good dowsing, ensuring viewers get a good view of Arna-Maria Winchester and Steve Bisley in the buff before they escape and hit the road for a frenetic car chase (directed by Mad Max honcho George Miller), providing a metal-crunching climax.

Larry Stillson
Steve Bisley
Carmel Stillson
Arna-Maria Winchester
Heinrich Schmidt 
Ross Thompson
Ralph Cotterill
Hugh Keays-Byrne
Lorna Lesley
Patrick Ward
Constable Pigott
Richard Moir
Sgt McSweeney
Laurie Moran
Michael Long
Bill McCluskey
Margo Lloyd
Byron Langley
Arthur Sherman
Bernie the Beater
P.J. Jones
Joan Winchester
Jason Stillson
Joshua Ward
Stephen Stillson
Ryan McKibbon
Kim Gyngell
Roger Ward
Sal Sharah
Frankie J. Holden

Ian Barry