Beginning of the End (1957)

“The time will come when the beasts will inherit the Earth.”

Synopsis:
A journalist (Peggie Castle) and a scientist (Peter Graves) help a general (Morris Ankrum) and his army fight against a swarm of giant atomic locusts headed towards Chicago.

Genres:

Review:
A direct rip-off of Them! (1954) (with locusts replacing ants), this Z-grade atomic-creature flick has everything you would expect in such a film — including an inevitable romance between a beautiful heroine and a handsome hero; laughably simplistic explanations of the science behind the animal mutations; and crowds running from super-imposed images on the screen. Director Bert I. Gordon — who also helmed Village of the Giants (1965) — was clearly comfortable with filming Big Creatures running amok among ordinary-sized humans, and that comfort shows here. But not much else can be said in the film’s favor.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Reasonably effective imagery of giant locusts

Must See?
No — though you may want to check out the MST3K version for a few laughs.

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One Response to “Beginning of the End (1957)”

  1. First viewing – a once-must, for its place in sci-fi cinema (and of special interest to sci-fi fanatics).

    I went into this with particularly low expectations, considering it’s a Bert I. Gordon production. (Surprisingly, Gordon is still with us – after a hiatus of 15 years, he released a film in 2015; no doubt it’s not good but…he’s still here.) But this is from the earlier part of Gordon’s career and, from the look of it, the crew seemed very much on-board with attempting a worthy-enough genre entry. The result is not an embarrassment.

    Anyone with a strong interest in sci-fi (and that should be most film fanatics) will find fascination here for a number of reasons: you can see how the film was influenced by what came before it (i.e., the ‘King Kong’ shot shown above) and how it, in turn, influenced what was to come (i.e., ‘Alien’ and ‘Aliens’).

    Yes, it’s a rip-off of ‘Them!’ but – even though the script here is slightly inferior, the film’s technical aspects are a cut-above what was seen before…making for an often-harrowing experience. There are some genuine shocks. Of course, there is the typical silliness re: how the locusts came to be so large (etc.) but the believable nature of the first 30 minutes will most likely lull you into accepting what follows.

    I watched the real version – not the MST3K version – and, overall, I think the dialogue is not ‘bad’ enough for the MST3K to really let loose and run hog-wild (though I’m sure they give it their best shot). That said, there are a few priceless howlers – my favorite being “You can’t drop an atom bomb on Chicago!”

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