Monday, February 4, 2008


Terence Fisher, who directed many classic films for Hammer Studios, such as CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF and THE HORROR OF DRACULA, helmed this 1965 science fiction-oriented production, which often times feels like I AM LEGEND by way of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

A space pilot (Willard Parker) returns home to find that mysterious forces have wreaked havoc on Earth. Investigating a deserted English hamlet he finds a few survivors, as well as an army of extraterrestrial robots bent on invading the planet. These robots use electromagnetic waves to resurrect the recently dead to use as slaves in their diabolical scheme. Parker and the other survivors--including Dennis Price, who'd go on to star in several Jess Franco pictures--take shelter as they fend off the invading robots, trying to determine a proper course of action.

Fisher gives the proceedings a pervasive feeling of doom, particularly in the film's opening scenes as Parker explores the abandoned village; you almost expect to see Rod Serling popping out from behind a tree, such is the effectiveness of its stark, isolated prologue. However, like a lot of British sci-fi from the sixties, the action quickly gets bogged down in scene after scene of conversation, as characters alternate between establishing backstory and bickering about what to do. Fisher also keeps the "zombies" offscreen until just past the halfway mark, though when they do make their appearance they're quite creepy with their blank gray eyes (they're a lot scarier than the robots, who supposedly pose the greater threat but resemble a bunch of sentient refrigerators).

Fans of vintage horror/sci-fi might get a kick out of THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING, though its sensational title promises a lot more thrills than it delivers. It's also interesting to see parallels between this and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, which bears a resemblance. The film's available easily enough on DVD, though you can also find it broken into fragments on YouTube; below is the first (and best) one to get you started.

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