End of the World (1977)

Starring Christopher Lee, Sue Lyon, Kirk Scott, Dean Jagger, Lew Ayres, Macdonald Carey, Liz Ross

Directed by John Hayes

Expectations: Low, but it has Christopher Lee so that’s something.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
onestar


Plainly put, End of the World is awful. Just wanted to get that out of the way. It’s awful in one of the worst ways a movie can be awful too. It’s excruciatingly boring. So boring that the entire film is summed up within the Netflix summary paragraph, leaving out only minor occurrences. Next to nothing happens in this one, but surprisingly the movie ends on such a high note that I can’t help but think back fondly on the experience. This is the other 1977 film about first contact with alien lifeforms, and actually was released a few months before the more famous film.

A professor working in a 1970s science lab with flashing lights, whirring noises and spinning tape reels intercepts some transmissions from space. They speak of impending disasters, so the professor looks further into the signals and sees that not only is Earth receiving them, but we are also sending messages back! He hunts down the sources, first to a zoo where a fellow researcher has set up a radio station underground. That’s not the source of the alien short wave though so he continues to the next stop, a convent. They find nothing, but soon realize that the nuns and the priest (Christopher Lee) are alien clones!

Nun/Alien at the controls

The aliens receive a signal that the Earth must be destroyed, so they jump in their time warp ray back to their homeworld. The professor and his wife are left in the basement of the convent, watching the destruction of the Earth via stock footage on multiple television view-screens. This stock footage of floods, explosions and volcanoes erupting is by far the second most enjoyable part of this movie. It is only trumped by the scene directly following, when we are treated to the ultimate money shot: a faraway glance from space at the silent, blue planet of Earth as it explodes into millions of pieces in grand slow-motion fashion. If they got everything else wrong, they at least knew how to end a movie called End of the World. You gotta give them that.

The filmmakers were also wise to not follow this incredible explosion with any bullshit epilogue scene or anything resembling further explanation. The credits slowly crawl after a moment and we’re out. Further illustrating the boring nature of the film, the credits scroll up one at a time for a while, making me wonder if they were under contract to deliver a film so many minutes long and were missing a few. The credits also offer up one last laugh as the cast credit for “Nuns/Aliens” once again reminds me why I enjoy B-Movies so much.

The Time Warp Ray

It’s pointless to even try and discuss the film’s characters because they are truly non-existent. I’m sure they have names but there’s no reason to remember them. The interactions between the characters are flat and completely uninvolving, with lots of screen time devoted to dialogue-free shots of people driving or walking around, set to a slightly funky ’70s porno score. I’m convinced that they were in Wong Kar-Wai mode here and were working sans script, as there is not a shred of tension or meaning in any of the scenes leading up to the grand finale.

Make no mistake, End of the World is truly forgettable and isn’t really worth it even for the most hardcore of B-Movie fans. I had hoped for a better introduction into Charles Band’s 1970s output, but this one was sorely lacking. That being said, the final ten minutes or so are pretty enjoyable, so if you must, try to only see that section. Unless you suffer from insomnia, as an alternate title for the film could easily have been End of the Sleepless Nights.

Next Tuesday I look at another 1970s Charles Band production, the more well-known film, Laserblast! I hope it’s better than this was!

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