The Curator of Schlock #194 by Jeff Shuster
The Earth Dies Screaming
I guess this one doesn’t have a happy ending.
I was at the Orlando Science Center a couple weeks back. While I busied myself with building a tall Popsicle stick tower, I tried selling a couple of visiting school children on The Museum of Schlock. Their response was not kind. I heard such gems as “We don’t care about schlock!” and “Go take a long walk off a short pier.” Now I should make the point that we’re all about science down here at The Museum of Schlock. We flippin’ love science! In fact, this month The Museum of Schlock will introduce our relativity series, a series of science-themed films for your education and enjoyment.
Tonight’s feature is 1964’s The Earth Dies Screaming from director Terrence Fisher. I’m familiar with Fisher from all of those gothic horror movies he made for Hammer Studios, so it was interesting to see him take on a science fiction film set in modern England.
The movie begins with what looks like a train conductor falling asleep on the job. The train crashes a moment later. Another man driving a car falls asleep at the wheel and crashes into a brick wall. A pilot falls asleep and crashes his plane. People all around the world are passed out. Oh wait. They’re not sleeping. They’re dead. Everyone is dead! The whole world is dead!
But there are still survivors. An American pilot by the name of Jeff Nolan (Willard Parker) meets Quinn Taggart (Dennis Price) and his wife, Peggy (Virginia Field). Jeff is the hero because he’s an American. Quinn is the villain because he pulled a gun on Jeff the moment he saw him and just comes off as weasily. Peggy is the romantic interest because she’s the last single woman on Earth (that bit about her being married to Quinn a lie). We also have a drunk named Edgar (Thorley Walters), his wife, Violet (Vanda Godsell), and a young married couple, Mel and Lorna. We have seven survivors against the world.
Jeff determines that there must have been a gas attack, based on where everyone was when the rest of the world died, screaming I assume. The only thing coming through on the radio and the television is a strange signal. The band of survivors notices a group of men in silver space suits walking about the town. Maybe it’s the government come to look for survivors. Violet runs off to greet one of them. He turns around and what we see isn’t a man, but a robot! And this is one creepy looking robot too, not the sort you’d have a game of chess with while discussing your feelings. The robot kills Violet by touching her with its glowing hand.
If that wasn’t bad enough, these robots have the ability to raise the dead. Violet comes back to the group, only her eyes are all puffed out and glazed over. So we’ve got robots and zombies and who knows what else.
I assume the robots belong to some evil alien race that wants to use the Earth to create some giant space spa. This is what Stephen Hawking keeps warning us about, NASA. Stop sending those satellites out into space with those gold plated Elvis records. You’re just sewing the seeds of our destruction!
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.