Movie Review: The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)
Synopsis: Test pilot Jeff Nolan lands his plane in Britain only to discover most of the Earth's population has been wiped out. He, along with a group of other survivors, take refuge in a hotel and learn the planet is being invaded by spacesuit-clad robots with the ability to turn dead people into zombies.
Review: When I came across this movie early this morning, I was a bit undecided about whether or not I wanted to watch it. The description sounded intriguing but, at the same time, the premise reminded me a little too much of the movie Plan 9 From Outer Space. After a short inner debate, I ended up watching it and enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting.
While a bit slower paced than I would prefer, the movie has a lot of good things going for it. I personally loved how the movie used the robot invaders, demonstrating their ability to kill a human with a simple touch but also, for an unexplained reason, choosing not to directly attack the survivors. This added a nice horror movie element to the film by introducing the zombies and, at the same time, created a little bit of a mystery about why the robots chose the indirect path. Did they have a secret weakness? It's not like guns even dented them. Were they the actual invaders or was something else controlling them?
The movie also does a great job of building suspense within the group of survivors by having them at odds with each other at times, threatening to break up the unity of the group and the safety in numbers. Then, of course, you had the pregnant woman (Anna Palk), who looked like she was due to deliver at any time and, at least in one scene, looked to be drawing special interest from the robots.
At first, I was going to complain about the movie's zombies and how easy it was for the survivors to kill people who were already dead. However, as it turns out, the movie actually dedicates a short scene solely to explain why that happened, something I honestly have to say impressed me since I know most other similar films probably wouldn't have bothered and because they did it in a way that was efficient and didn't bog things down.
Normally, I'm not a big fan of movie endings that leave a lot of things unresolved, like this movie ultimately does. However, given the overall theme and the mystery surrounding the invaders, I reluctantly admitted to myself it works very well in this particular case and, if there were a sequel to it (I don't think there was), I probably would watch it to see what happens next.
Final Opinion: There's not as much action as you would expect to see in an alien invasion movie, but the film does a good job setting a genuinely creepy tone and ends up being an entertaining and memorable film as a result. It's definitely a movie I would recommend.
My Grade: A