Day the World Ended

Tagged: Film

Film (1955). Golden State Productions/American Releasing Corporation. Produced and directed by Roger Corman. Written by Lou Rusoff. Creatures designed by Paul Blaisdell. Cast includes Paul Birch, Paul Blaisdell (uncredited), Mike Connors (credited as Touch Connors), Richard Denning, Adele Jergens and Lori Nelson. Narrator: Chet Huntley. 81 minutes, cut to 79 minutes. Black and white.

A nuclear World War Three has apparently destroyed all or most of humanity. US Navy Commander Jim Maddison (Birch) and his daughter Louise (Nelson) have survived since their house is in a box canyon with lead-lined walls that block radiation. Several survivors appear who were nearby during the Holocaust, primarily Rick (Denning), a geologist specializing in uranium mining; Tony (Connors), a small-time criminal; and his girlfriend Ruby (Jergens). Maddison at first refuses to admit them to the house, specifically built for survival (see Survivalist Fiction). Louise appeals to his humanity and he allows them in. The group is soon threatened by a Mutant with a bulbous head and three eyes, which kills whatever it can but will consume only other contaminated creatures. It is uncertain whether the fall-out will dissipate before rain carries into the canyon.

Tony proves to be a menace who wants both women for himself; Ruby is jealous of his attraction to Louise, so Tony stabs her to death. The mutant abducts Louise, but releases her into a small lake which it won't enter. Rick has followed and fights briefly with the creature, which flees. He and Louise track it as rain begins to fall; the rain kills it, and, reverting to human form; it proves to be Louise's missing fiancé. Tony has stolen a handgun from Jim and waits to ambush Rick when the pair returns. Jim has followed him, though, and shoots Tony. Having somehow been poisoned by fall-out, Jim tells Jim and Louise before he dies that the rain is radiation-free and that he has contacted other survivors by radio. They depart the canyon on a note of hope.

The first Horror in SF film to be directed by Corman (although in 1954 he had produced Monster from the Ocean Floor), this was, like most of his 1950s films, shot fast (less than a week) on an amazingly small budget (circa $40,000). Corman later improved as a director. American Releasing Corporation would soon become American International Pictures. AIP was savvy with its marketing campaigns: almost all its low-budget efforts of this era returned considerable profits. The film was remade for television by the far less talented Larry Buchanan as In the Year 2889 (1967). [GSt/JB/PN]

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