The Chain Reaction (1980)

Australia, 1980
mono, English

An Australian science fiction film directed by Ian Barry. Mel Gibson makes an uncredited appearance as a mechanic.

Plot Summary

An earthquake causes a leak at the WALDO nuclear waste storage facility in rural Australia, releasing poison that could get into the water supply. An injured worker, Heinrich Schmidt, tries to warn the locals, but his boss wants to cover up the spill. An amnesiac Schmidt escapes and is found wandering in the woods by a vacationing couple. Soon they are on the run from WALDO thugs and assassins.


Director: Ian Barry
Palm Beach Pictures
Producer: David Elfick
Script: Ian Barry
Director of Photography: Russell Boyd
Editor: Tim Wellburn
Music: Andrew Thomas Wilson
Sound Recordist: Lloyd Carrick
Costume Designer: Norma Moriceau
Make Up: Lesley Lamont-Fisher
Special Effects: Reece Robinson
Art Director: Graham Walker

Steve Bisley (Larry)
Arna-Maria Winchester (Carmel)
Ross Thompson (Heinrich)
Ralph Cotterill (Gray)
Hugh Keays-Byrne (Eagle)
Lorna Lesley (Gloria)
Richard Moir (Junior Constable Pigott)
Patrick Ward (Oates)
Laurie Moran (Police Sergeant McSweeney)
Michael Long (doctor)
Bill McCluskey (Ralph)
Margo Lloyd (Molly)
Tim Burns (survey driver)
Arthur Sherman (Byron Langley)
Barry Donnelly (gateman)
P.J. Jones (Bernie the beater)
David Bracks (spray painter)
Joan Winchester (Marcia)
Joshua Ward (Jason Stillson)
Ryan McKibbon (Stephen Stillson)

Alternative Titles

Detector – Italy
Ketjureaktio – Finland
Die Kettenreaktion – West Germany
Nuclear Run
Peligro: reacción en cadena – Spain
Perigo… Reacção em Cadeia – Portugal



  • Cinema Papers no.22 (July/Aug 1979) p.455 – credits
  • Cinema Papers no.27 (June/July 1980) pp.21-25 – article
  • Cinema Papers no.30 (December 1980) pp.476-477
  • Écran Fantastique no.14 (1980) p.40
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.47 no.561 (October 1980) pp.188-189 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Screen International no.252 (2-9 August 1980) p.4 – note (Films for registration)
  • Screen International no.272 (20 December 1980) p.24
  • Variety 23 April 1980 p.19 – credits, review


  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.359
  • Australian Film 1978-1994: A Survey of Theatrical Features compiled and edited by Scott Murray p.61 – illustrated credits, synopsis
  • Film Review 1981-1982 by F. Maurice Speed (ed.) p.147
  • The Film’s of the Eighties by Robert A.Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.88 – credits, synopsis
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films III by Donald C. Willis p.44-45
  • Nuclear Movies: A Filmography by Mick Broderick p.87