Day the World Ended (1955)

Incredibly, this Roger Corman end of the world shocker was filmed in nine days. It was incredible because while watching it, I was thinking that they should have been able to do it in about a third of the time!

Corman uses a similar gimmick as other apocalypse movies of the time such as the classic This Is Not A Test. That is to say, he uses his lack of a budget as a storyline element.

Even though you would expect the end of the world to involve deserted cities, mass destruction, and gangs of Italian bikers, Corman reduces it all down to seven people out in the wilderness, all staying at one guy’s house.

There’s no rhyme or reason as to why any of these people are milling around out there except that we need to have a love interest, a bad guy, a good guy, some cannon fodder, and a radioactive guy.

All these people wandering around decide to take shelter at Maddison’s house. Maddison is an older guy who has one of these sweet blonde country girl daughters who is most likely going to be menaced by both the mutants roaming in her backyard and the gangster-like Tony (Mike Connors from Mannix) who shows up at her house with older, harder, and much less desirable blonde Ruby.

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Maddison doesn’t want to let anyone into his house because he’s got everything worked out. In fact, he’s spent the last ten years planning for this day and has everything set up so that he, his daughter Louise, and her boyfriend can survive an atomic war.

Boyfriend never materializes, but it becomes apparent that he is the mutant in the bad monster suit who is constantly peeping Louise when she’s trying to bathe in the local swimming hole. (Somehow the end of the world necessitates bathing outdoors among the mutants instead of taking a shower inside the house that your dad has spent the last decade preparing for just such an event.)

It also turns out that the mutants are afraid of the water. Feel free to cringe when the mutant is defeated by the big rain storm because the water was pure and the mutant was designed to live in a world of contamination. Continue to gag as Rick and Louise wax poetic about how man created the mutant, but God’s pure rain destroyed him.

Along with Tony, Ruby, Rick, and the two Maddisons, there’s also old Pete and his burrow and Rick’s mutated brother Radek. What kind of sick joke is that for God to play on us? The entire world destroyed, only seven survivors and one of them is an old gold prospector and his smelly mule? (I would complain about Radek looking like Moe from the Three Stooges, but I just have to assume that his haircut and vacant look were by-products of being irradiated.)

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Remember how Maddison planned all this for ten years? Was part of your plan to let a radioactive dude into your bunker? And by “bunker” I mean his house of course because his planning seemed to be merely building a store room, which I don’t even remember seeing and stocking it with enough food to last three people three months.

As far as old Pete goes, he pretty much does what an old gold prospector named Old Pete would be expected to do. He’s always yammering about his stupid mule or goat or whatever he was riding around on, making moonshine and eventually going up to the top of the mountain into the radioactive haze after some gold.

Another part of Maddison’s Ten Year Plan must have been to get himself infected with radiation by going after Old Pete because that’s exactly what he did! Old Pete also whacked him on the head for his troubles. (Don’t try to get between a crazy old coot and his radioactive fool’s gold!)

So what else was part of the big plan? Watching even though you’re holding a gun as Rick and Tony bust your place up fighting over your daughter. She pleads with him to stop them, but he says that maybe Rick will teach Tony a lesson and watches as chairs are smashed over people’s heads and couches are tipped over! Who knew the apocalypse would turn into a really lame frat party?

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A pitifully stupid and fitfully funny movie that isn’t fitfully funny enough to be truly enjoyable, Day the World Ended is the kind of movie marked by scenes where Maddison is explaining to Rick how he was part of some test where the H bomb was dumped on a bunch of poor animals and turned them all mutie.

Then he pulls out some sketches he did of them and all I was thinking as I saw the crudely rendered things (they all had fangs and horns drawn on them to show us their mutant-ness) was that they would go on your refrigerator if they were done by your kid, but you would realize that your kid wasn’t going to be the next Picasso.

Even though the film used a narrator to explain that the world ended, he was never used to explain the stuff that either didn’t make sense or wasn’t interesting, like why could the mutant that was running amok only speak in a dog whistle tone that only Louise could understand or why the rain wasn’t contaminated or why it destroyed the mutants or why everyone put up with Tony after he repeatedly tried to kill Rick and Maddison and rape Louise, or why Tony suddenly went out to help Old Pete look for his missing ass like he was a nice guy after all!

Throw in the lumpy monster with three eyes and some horns , some babble about “atomic skin” and Maddison’s creepy entreaties to his daughter and Rick that they need to begin humping and restart the human race and you can begin to understand why a great majority of us will wish we were vaporized as soon as Armageddon rolls around and not have to try and live in a world gone mad where monsters skulk the earth against whom our only defense are bottles of Aquafina.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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