Day the World Ended (1955)
Film: Day the World Ended
Director: Roger Corman
Writer: Lou Rusoff
Starring: Richard Denning, Lori Nelson and Adele Jergens
This film informs us that we are starting on the day that the world ends. Nuclear war has broken out and that is what the cause of it is.
We then shift to a house that is in a valley, surrounded by hills. We have a woman, played by Lori Nelson, with her father, played by Paul Birch. He is a survivalist and has been planning for something like this to happen. He has enough supplies to keep him, Nelson and her fiancé alive for some time, long enough to start farming. The problem is when the bombs hit; her fiancé was not there so he is just planning on the two.
A couple has made it safely to the valley and sees the house; they are played by Mike Conners and Adele Jergens. They make their way toward it. We also see a man who was hurt in the blast, played by Paul Dubov. He falls and another man, played by Richard Denning, comes to help him. He helps him and then ultimately carries him toward the house. Bringing up the rear is an old man with his burro, Diablo. The old man is played by Raymond Hatton.
Connors knocks at the door, but Birch doesn’t want to let them in. Nelson tells him that they can’t just leave them out there. Connors has a gun and he isn’t the nicest man. He starts to shoot the handle. Nelson unlocks it and they barge in. Denning comes in next and puts Dubov on the couch. Finally Hatton joins them.
Denning and Birch immediately become close and Nelson takes a liking to Denning as well. Connors has his eye on Nelson though. Denning beats up Connors early on and takes his gun away from him. They settle into a life that is normal for the times. Birch constantly is using the radio, trying to find signs of life.
We learn that their biggest fear is the rain. Birch believes that if they get contaminated rain, it will be the end of them. They have food and water, but not a lot. With the amount of people, it won’t last long either. Birch has books on the different jobs that will keep them alive as well. Connors isn’t thrilled about this. Where the house is also protects them. The hills have lead in them that acted as a barrier and the wind has kept contamination out also.
Dubov hasn’t taken any food and water. He has been through a dangerous level of radiation and it has changed him. He leaves the safety of the valley without further damage and has been eating infected animals. The problem is there is more mutated creature that is after him.
One night Birch explains to Denning that was part of an experiment where animals were subjected to high levels of radiation. This talk comes after they find a more contaminated man than Dubov, this other man is played by Jonathan Haze. He said there is something stronger than him. His arms and legs have changed, being covered in hair and the skin is tougher. Birch tells Denning that the animals evolved to protect themselves from radiation.
There is a local waterfall and pond that they start to use. Jergens and Nelson bath in it and Nelson thinks she sees something watching her. She claims that is calling out her name, but no one else can hear it. The men also see footprints for something and Dubov is killed by something that has long claws.
Will these people survive? Can they stop this mutant that is stalking Nelson? Is there anyone else alive? Is the world ended or is there a chance for survival?
I will start off stating that I respect Roger Corman, the director of this film, for the years he put into making films and what he did with the little he usually had to work with. I think the story behind this film is realistic and scary. Nuclear war could happen if we have the wrong people in power and it would be difficult to carry on. I do also wonder if what happens to Dubov, Haze and the mutant we see later, played by Paul Blaisdell, could possible happen. I think that the acting is pretty good in this film all around. I personally didn’t have any complaints aside from Connors and his questionable decision making. I do think that it is realistic though in some of the bad choices he makes.
Now I do have some issues though. The first issue being that this film is kind of boring. For a film that is 79 minutes, it drags on in the middle. We get everyone coming to the house and then a whole lot of sitting around. I feel there could have been a little bit more interaction with the mutant possible. I also question the ending as being a little too convenient. Now I get that the weather is not an exact science, but how would there be zero contamination and how could an expert like Birch be as wrong as he is? I absolutely hated that they brought religion and God into why everything goes back to normal like it does.
Now with that said, this film is enjoyable to the right audience. If you like sci-fi, horror films from the 50s, then I would recommend giving this one a viewing. If you are a Corman fan, then I would recommend watching this one. The acting is good, the concept and story are as well, but the execution does have issues. The film drags, which is hard to do speaking that it doesn’t have a long running time. The mutant doesn’t look bad for the time period, but we don’t get enough of it. I would only recommend if you’re interested in the genre or if this sounds really interesting.
My Rating: 5 out of 10