The Earth Dies Screaming
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTerence Fisher
Written byHarry Spalding (as Henry Cross)
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyArthur Lavis
Edited byRobert Winter
Music byElisabeth Lutyens
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • 14 October 1964 (1964-10-14)
Running time
62 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom[1]
LanguageEnglish

The Earth Dies Screaming is a 1964[1] British science-fiction and horror film directed by Terence Fisher, written by Harry Spalding, and starring Willard Parker, Virginia Field, and Dennis Price.[2][3]

Plot

Human bodies are scattered around an English village, apparently dead in a sudden cataclysm. A small group of survivors gathers in the local hotel bar, led by an American jet test pilot, Jeff Nolan. Apparently, a mysterious gas attack has killed off most of the Earth's population. Figures in space suits appear in the streets; Vi Courtland thinks they have come to rescue them, but they turn and kill her with their touch. Several of these bulletproof killers stalk the streets.

Heavily pregnant Lorna Brenard and her moody husband, Mel, arrive by car. Mel says they broke into a fallout shelter the previous night to sleep. The group goes to a local Territorial Army drill hall to look for weapons. They arm themselves and struggle for survival against the invaders in what is the first step in an alien invasion.

Vi reanimates as a zombie with white eyes. Quinn Taggart shoots and kills her. Quinn knocks out Jeff and heads north with Peggy Hatton in a sports car. She unsuccessfully tries to run off when he stops for petrol. She then insists he get her a coat, as she's cold, and escapes to a house when he enters a store to find her one. She is trapped in the house pursued by invaders and zombies, and hides in a wardrobe. After the zombie pursuing her abandons the search, Peggy runs outside and is saved by Jeff, who has been looking for her. He runs down a space-suited creature with his Land Rover, revealing it is a robot when it explodes. They go back to the drill hall, where young Lorna Brenard is about to give birth to a daughter. Meanwhile, Ed Otis cannot face the new reality and is drinking anything alcoholic he can find.

Jeff and Mel Brenard use a shortwave radio and triangulation to work out where the aliens are transmitting their control signals to the robots. They locate the transmitter tower and are about to blow it up when robots start to appear. Quinn returns to the drill hall as a zombie, accompanied by two robots. One of the robots approaches Peggy, but when the tower is destroyed, all the robots collapse. Otis shoots Quinn, saving Peggy, Lorna, and the baby. The survivors commandeer a Pan Am Boeing 707 and fly south in search of other survivors.

Production

Harry Spalding said someone said the title "as a joke" and "somehow it kind of stuck", and he always hated the title.[4]

The film was shot in Shepperton Studios in Surrey. Location filming was done at the village of Shere. It was one of several 1960s British horror films to be scored by the avant-garde composer Elisabeth Lutyens, whose father, Edwin Lutyens, designed Manor House Lodge in Shere, a small property that features prominently at several points in the film.[citation needed]

Cast

Reviews

Wheeler Winston Dixon wrote about the film's use of silence:

"... it's remarkable to note that in a 62-minute film, the first five to six minutes have conveyed Fisher’s vision of the end of civilization entirely through a dispassionate series of images ... Much of the film, involving the pursuit of the living by the dead, is done entirely through gesture...

— Wheeler Winston Dixon in 2014.[5]

Writing in The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle cited the film as "an obvious precursor to Night of the Living Dead."[6]

In popular culture

The Earth Dies Screaming was used in 1983 as the inspiration and title for an Atari 2600 video game released by Fox Video Games, a division of 20th Century Fox. The game is set in space, and involves shooting down satellites and fighter ships.[7]

British band UB40 released the single "The Earth Dies Screaming" (catalogue: Graduate GRAD 10) in 1980, which spent 12 weeks in the UK chart, peaking at number 10.[8]

The first track on Tom Waits' 1992 album Bone Machine is titled "Earth Died Screaming".

Home Media

The film was released on Region 1 DVD on 11 September 2007 and on Region 2 DVD on 29 August 2011.

References

  1. ^ a b "The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  2. ^ John Hamilton, The British Independent Horror Film 1951-70 Hemlock Books 2013 p 129-132
  3. ^ "EARTH DIES SCREAMING, The". Monthly Film Bulletin. London. 32 (372): 150. 1 January 1965. ProQuest 1305820393.
  4. ^ Weaver, Tom (19 February 2003). Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews. McFarland. p. 333. ISBN 9780786482153.
  5. ^ Wheeler Winston Dixon, October 31st, 2014, Film International, “Turn It Off!” – Sound and Silence in 1960s British Gothic Cinema, Retrieved 1 November 2014
  6. ^ Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.
  7. ^ "The Earth Dies Screaming". Moby Games. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  8. ^ Rice, Tim; Gambaccini, Paul; Rice, Jonathan (1995). British Hit Singles, 10th edition. Enfield: Guinness Publishing. p. 320. ISBN 0-85112-633-2.