This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper. T.S. Eliot
People all over begin falling down. They die immediately. Everywhere. Sometime later a single car goes down a road. At the wheel is Jeff Nolan (Willard Parker). He is an American test pilot who has just completed a mission testing a new aircraft. Not knowing what happened he stops at a small village. As he wanders around the empty village he locates a short wave radio. He goes to a nearby hotel and tries to get something on the short wave.
Eventually by ones and by twos other survivors begin to find each other. Quinn Taggert (Dennis Price), Peggy Hatton (Virginia Field) Edgar Otis (Thorley Walters) , Violet Courtland (Vanda Godsell), Mel Brenard (David Spencer), and his pregnant wife Lorna (Anna Palk).
Bit by bit a picture comes together of what happened. A gas attack has killed most of the Earth’s population. Only a few people have survived due to unusual circumstances. Quinn was in the stratosphere way above the gas. Mel and Lorna were sleeping in a bomb shelter, another in an oxygen tent. Away from the gas these few people managed to survive.
The gas attack is the first step in an alien invasion. Phase II is robots. They stalk the streets looking for survivors to kill. Which they can do with just a touch of their claw-like hand. Guns don’t appear to be any defense against the robots.
Phase III of the invasion is zombies. The dead are rising and attacking the living, eager to kill anyone who might try to stop them. Despite all these onslaughts, personality differences and a new born baby, this menagerie of humanity tries to hold on and survive.
“The Earth Dies Screaming” was released in 1964 and was directed by Terence Fisher. It is a British film produced by Lippert Films. It’s a rather fast moving film. At only a little over an hour long there is always something going on. The title is a misnomer. The Earth does not die screaming, unless you count the screaming sound of silence. The robots look like guys in deep sea diving suits with just a touch of cyberman. The bodies may look like guys in baggy metallic painted neoprene but the robot heads are actually cool looking.
The acting is good. There aren’t a lot of characters but each one holds their own. Parker is great as a take charge guy who manages to do it without being overbearing. Field is the damsel in distress who also has an inner strength about her. Walters is the flawed average guy who is barely keeping it together. Then there is Price who basically the villain and quietly oily. Spenser and Palk are the young newlyweds and the hope of the future. A small cast and a compact story.
It’s an interesting combination of genres; aliens, robots and zombies all in one end of days movie. It’s a good movie if you’re not sure what you want to see but you want something that isn’t going to hit you over the head with religious doomsday speeches or apocalyptic rhetoric. Aliens came and they killed. Period.