The Earth Dies Screaming (1964 UK)

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The Earth Dies Screaming (1964 UK)

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:42 pm


What a great Title, eh?   Arrow THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964)
starring Willard Parker - Virginia Field - Dennis Price - Thorley Walters
Directed by Terence Fisher * BW * 62m
An alien invasion tale which many Sci-Fi fans forget about or are not even aware of. It's British and takes place in the British rural countryside. There's a very ominous beginning to this one; the first shot is of a train derailing, a 'money' shot which may be stock footage, since the rest of the film is strictly low budget. All of the populace in the area drops dead, with a few exceptions. The strength to the picture in these early minutes is the mystery: the audience doesn't know anymore than the main characters as to why this is happening. World War III? Biological attack or mishap? Nature? Gas attack? This old film may have more relevance these days - that's a grim thought, eh? At this point, it's similar to such films as The Andromeda Strain.
The film is also pretty short and wastes no time in revealing the menace, to some degree: killer robots! The survivors are holed up in the local inn when they notice these mechanical men trudging by. Since the invaders never move beyond a slow walk, they don't really seem to pose a serious threat unless someone happens to run right up to them - which one of the characters does indeed do. Then a person gets zapped by the touch of a cold hand and is turned into a mindless (dead) controlled zombie. It sounds silly, I guess, but the eerie setting reminded me of Night of the Living Dead (1968) - a same sense of isolation - with the Sci-Fi angle of robots.


Some of the film's effectiveness is also due to the characters - there's none of that cheesy, melodramatic dialog which saddled Sci-Fi films of the fifties & sixties; it's quite realistic for what it is and delves a bit into some flawed character traits: opportunism (slimy Price, what an ass) and a weak alcoholic (Walters). But, we never learn too many details about why all this is taking place (again, like Night of the Living Dead).
A very similar story in the USA was the earlier Target Earth (1954), which took place in a big city. Now, this film was the first of the Sci-Fi trilogy from Terence Fisher and Planet Films. It came out on DVD on a double feature 2-disc set with the film Chosen Survivors (74) a couple of years ago. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10

Next in the Sci-Fi trilogy was Island of Terror (1966), also known as "The Night of the Silicates."
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