Movie Review: The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)
“Why Were They Out To Kill Every Living Thing On Earth?”
The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)
Director: Terence Fisher
Cast: Willard Parker, Virginia Field, Dennis Price
Synopsis: An alien invasion results in only a few people surviving to fight back.
Actually, the Earth dies with barely a sigh as it slumps quietly to the ground in this tepid SF thriller from Terence Fisher, a director who showed far more confidence when working within the horror genre for Hammer. He made this short SF feature for Lippert Films, a no-money production company that would go out of business the following year, and his lack of budget is evident in the small-scale fashion in which the end of the world is depicted. So small-scale, in fact, that the film never ventures beyond the boundaries of one village.
Ageing American B-movie star Willard Parker (Waco) finds himself apparently alone in the heart of the British countryside after the entire population appears to have succumbed to a fatal gas which has been pumped into the atmosphere by some unseen alien force. But then, in the picturesque village in which he stopped to acquire a radio, he runs into the caddish Dennis Price (Kind Hearts and Coronets) and his travelling companion Peggy (Virginia Field), after which a small number of other survivors slowly start to show up. Their confusion and fear over what has happened is intensified by the sight of a pair of figures in space suits who kill anyone unlucky enough to cross their path as they wander around the village like a couple of bored tourists. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the victims of these sightseeing spacemen then return from the dead as mindless zombies with blank, glassy eyes.
It all sounds quite exciting, but The Earth Dies Screaming is one of a select group of movies that make the end of the world as we know it a spectacle so boring we begin to wish it was over long before there’s any sign of the end credits. A lot of nothing happens for much of the running time; there’s a lot of bickering, but there’s little sense of the grief and trauma that would surely overcome any post-apocalyptic survivors. The resurrected corpses do look creepy with their blank eyes – wearing them must have been murder for the actors involved – but nothing else about The Earth Dies Screaming impresses, and the film doesn’t even bother explaining who these invaders are, what plans they have for our planet, or the ultimate fate of our heroes.
(Reviewed 24th March 2017)