Def-Con 4 (1985)


Def-Con 4 is a 1985 Canadian post-apocalyptic film, portraying three astronauts who survive World War III aboard a space station and return to Earth to find greatly changed circumstances.

The film’s title refers to the Defence Readiness Condition (DEFCON), the United States military’s nuclear alert system.

Also known as DEFCON-4 and Defence Condition 4.


Three astronauts in a secret spaceship lose all contact with the ground and observe what appears to be a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union on Earth. Two months later, the spacecraft’s guidance system is mysteriously reprogrammed, forcing the crew’s return to Earth.

The spacecraft lands considerably off-course, on a beach in eastern Nova Scotia, Canada. Jordan (Kate Lynch) is knocked unconscious on impact. Walker (John Walsch) exits first and is quickly killed by “terminals” – humans crazed by disease. Several hours later, in the middle of the night, Howe (Tim Choate) ventures out in search of help and a way to escape. He soon encounters Vinny (Maury Chaykin), a survivalist who has fortified his house with barbed wire and booby-traps. Vinny effectively saves him from the “terminals,” and makes him his prisoner.

As the plot develops, Vinny, fellow survivor J.J. (Lenore Zann), and Howe are captured, and taken in chains to a makeshift fortress built out of junk. In order to survive, the crew must escape to the radiation-free zones while avoiding cannibal “terminals” and a sadistic military-school student-turned-despotic ruler, and escape before a malfunctioning nuclear warhead explodes in sixty hours.


  • Lenore Zann as J.J.
  • Maury Chaykin as Vinny.
  • Kate Lynch as Jordan.
  • Kevin King as Gideon Hayes.
  • John Walsch as Walker.
  • Tim Choate as Howe.
  • Jeff Pustil as Lacey.
  • Donna King as Alice.
  • Alan MacGillivray as Boomer.
  • Florence Paterson as Mrs. Boyd.


The film was primarily directed by Paul Donovan. Digby C. Cook directed the WWN news segment. Tony Randel directed part of the film but received no credit.


  • A film infamous among sci-fi fans for misleading artwork, as the painting used on the poster and video/DVD boxes bears no resemblance to anything that occurs in the actual film.
  • The US military Defence Condition (DEFCON) system actually counts down from five (normal peacetime operations) down to DEFCON 1 (maximum readiness for nuclear war), despite the film’s title implying DEFCON 4 was reached during a full-scale nuclear war.
    • DEFCON 4 is actually only being slightly more prepared for war than a standard peacetime defence condition.
    • The highest confirmed DEFCON was DEFCON 2, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • A Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN) card is used as part of a tripwire for the trap on Vinny’s farm that explodes approximately 30 minutes into the film.
    • It is the real SIN card for Cordell Wynne, line producer for the movie, which reveals that his middle name is ‘Gerald’.
  • The Nemesis mission is a joint Canadian-US space station, as evidenced by the Canadian and American flags on the space suit that Captain Walker wears for a repair spacewalk.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Paul Donovan.
    • Digby Cook … (director: WWN news segment) (as Digby C. Cook).
    • Tony Randel … (uncredited).
  • Producer(s):
    • Digby Cook … producer: WWN news segment (as Digby C. Cook).
    • Michael Donovan … producer (uncredited).
    • Paul Donovan … producer.
    • B.A. Gillian … producer.
    • Maura O’Connell … producer.
    • J. William Ritchie … executive producer.
    • P.M. Robinson … executive producer.
    • Cordell Wynne … line producer.
  • Writer(s):
  • Music:
    • Christopher Young … (as Chris Young).
  • Cinematography:
    • Douglas Connell … (as Doug Connell).
    • Les Krizsan.
  • Editor(s):
    • Todd C. Ramsay … (as Todd Ramsay).
  • Production:
    • New World Pictures.
    • Salter Street Films International.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Altomedia. Co. Ltd. (Korea) (DVD).
    • Altomedia. Co. Ltd. (Korea) (VHS).
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment (2001) (USA) (DVD).
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment (USA) (VHS).
    • Home Video Hellas (HVH) (1987) (Greece) (VHS).
    • Image Entertainment (2011) (USA) (DVD) (double feature with “Hell Comes to Frogtown”).
    • New World Pictures (all media).
    • R&G Video (1991) (USA) (VHS).
    • Roadshow Films (1985) (Australia) (all media) (video premiere).
    • Roadshow Home Video (1985) (Australia) (VHS) (video premiere).
    • Scorpion Releasing (2020) (USA) (Blu-ray).
    • Starmaker Entertainment (1991) (USA) (VHS).
    • VCL Communications (1986) (West Germany) (VHS).
  • Release Date: 15 March 1985 (US).
  • Rating: 15.
  • Running Time: 88 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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