“There are two forms of life fighting for survival in this valley, and only one of them can win; it’s got to be us.”
After atomic warfare leaves most of the world dead, a rancher (Paul Birch), his grown daughter (Lori Nelson), a geologist (Richard Denning), a con (Mike Connors) and his moll (Adele Jurgens), a miner (Raymond Hatton) with a donkey, and an atomically scarred victim (Paul Dubov) struggle to survive while battling against unseen mutant forces.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Mutant Monsters
- Nuclear Holocaust
- Roger Corman Films
- Science Fiction
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary labels this post-apocalyptic survival tale “the first and best of Roger Corman’s fifties sci-fi films”, but I don’t quite agree with his second assertion; Corman’s Not of This Earth (1957) — about alien vampiric forces invading Southern California — holds my vote as his most creative and enjoyable outing in this genre. Nonetheless, Day the World Ended — which Peary posits is essentially “a combination of Key Largo and Five” — does have “a couple of scary scenes, good atmosphere, and a smart ending”. It’s especially interesting, as always, to see how Corman is able to make judicious use of his ultra-low budget: here, he effectively utilizes fog, shadows, and sound effects to forebode threatening forces, while pitting a conveniently motley crew of survivors against one another in claustrophobic quarters. Once the mutant monster (Paul Blaisdell) actually appears on-screen, the tone of the film suddenly turns undeniably silly:
but Corman’s cast of reliable B-actors continue to take the situation so seriously that we’re willing to suspend our giggles and our disbelief.
Note: You may recognize handsome good-guy lead Richard Denning from The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) — a more “reputable” B-level variation on a similar theme.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- An effectively told low-budget tale
No, though fans of nuclear survival flicks (or Roger Corman’s films) will surely want to check it out.