BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Cruising rather comfortably on its low budget, Hammer Horror director Terence Fisher’s The Earth Dies Screaming has one of the fiercest and most engaging openings to every kick off a science fiction flick. The Earth Dies Screaming literally begins with THE END of the world. People everywhere, exposed to some alien gas, just drop dead. Trains derail, airplanes slam to the ground, and cars just crash. It is an eerie start to this black-and-white film that reverberates throughout the remaining hour in the movie.
Turns out that the apocalypse has arrived courtesy of invading helmeted alien robots that plan to resurrect the dead through electronic pulses emitting from their takeover of a radio tower. God help us all. I have a feeling that The Earth Dies Screaming has been more influential upon filmmakers than is freely admitted. There are several landmark films that come to mind that could easily have been inspired by this apocalyptic thriller. From Night of the Living Dead to the underrated Curse of the Fly, you can see those seeds sewn here as the dead return.
Filmed in and around the village of Shere near London’s Shepperton Studios, The Earth Dies Screaming is a brisk survival tale about six people – of particular note are the performances from Willard Parker, Virginia Field, and Dennis Price as the no-good Taggart – who most band together to escape an army of robots and the walking dead whose minds are not theirs anymore. The open location provides a feeling of haunted isolation and gloom. It is truly unnerving to see no movement from all the bodies strewn haphazardly about.
The power to resurrect the dead and have them do the robot’s bidding is a constant threat to the group’s survival and, as the dead humans under their control look all kinds of crazy with their buggy eyes, their stumbling presence is a very real threat. There’s simply no escaping this onslaught of reanimation. With a limited number of weapons and a decreasing supply of food, this motley (but always polite as is the British way) group finds themselves in a constant cycle of flight. And, when a baby is born unto one of the women in their tiny group, they have no further recourse but to continue to fight and flee.
Thanks to the sturdy production designs of George Provis (who would go on to work on Dalek’s Invasion: Earth 2150), the space robots are both detailed and dangerous-looking. Their metallic suits suggest a humanoid form within, but the head itself is another thing entirely. There is a mouthpiece of some sort and a clear visor that suggest something squishy and foreign inside. Their mastering of electronics and all things electric: however, means that everything they are equipped with could be potentially threatening. It all comes together rather nicely in this b-movie to form a movie that is both intelligent and breezy.
Yes, Virginia, the robots ARE taking over. The Earth Dies Screaming is now available on blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber. The film, clocking in at a brisk 63 minutes, comes highly recommended.
MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime: 62 mins
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Henry Cross
Cast: Willard Parker, Virginia Field, Dennis Price
Tagline: Who... Or What Were They... Who Tried To Wipe All Living Creatures Off The Face Of This Earth?
Memorable Movie Quote: "I drove all day. You're the first folks I've seen alive today."
Theatrical Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release Date: October 14, 1964
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: October 4, 2016
Synopsis: A crack test pilot lands to find the planet has been devastated by some unknown forces. There are a few survivors, so he organizes them in a plan to ward off control by a group of killer robots.
Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray - October 4, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-25)
Region Encoding: Region A
For this Blu-ray release, Kino continues to impress with its handling of black-and-white HD. The film is presented here in 1080p HD and is as crisp as can be expected. The village is engaging with strong black levels and a dazzling use of white levels. Framing and compositions looks fitting and accurate throughout (presented here in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1), with the open countryside in the film looking very pleasing. The transfer is rich in detail with excellent contrasts, black levels are deep and grey scales are also replicated nicely. Overall, the transfer has an attractive, filmic appearance to it, and any fleeting instances of blemishes only give it character. The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio English track is quite clear from start to finish.
- Provided by film historian Richard Harland, the commentary track is outstanding and adds a lot of background information for the film. It is much appreciated.
- Outside of some trailers for other releases, there are so special features.