Written by Harold Hoffman
Directed by Larry Buchanan
Run Time: 80 minutes
Bravely reviewed by Karl Hoegle
Reviewer’s note: With a paltry $20,000 budget, AIP gave the stalwart Buchanan a title that was already registered (In the Year 2889) and a copy of Roger Corman’s 1955 “The Day the World Ended”. This is almost a direct copy of Corman’s movie. Things sure are bad when you copy Roger Corman! It was intended for direct to T.V. release.
|John “Ol’ Dad” Ramsey (Neil Fletcher)
“But we only have food and water for 30 days!”
|Johanna Ramsey (Charla Doherty)
“Sure, you can stay here! We have lots of room!”
|Steve Morrow (Paul Peterson)
“Say, anybody have any smokes?”
|Grainger Morrow (Max W. Anderson)
“This stuff glued to my face really itches”
|Jada (Quinn O’Hara)
“Oh, Mickey, you’re so fine…”
|Timothy Henderson (Bill Thurman)
“Say, you guys have any booze”
|Mickey Brown (Hugh Feagin)
“It’s good to be the King!”
|The Mutant (Byron Lord)
We start our movie with a cool plane ride through some white, fluffy clouds, but all too soon it goes south when over 1,000 atomic bombs go off, one after the other, and an unseen solemn narrator tells us “The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night… In which the Heavens will pass away with a great noise and the very elements will melt away with a fervent heat. The Earth and all of the works therein shall be burned up”. (2 Peter 3:10 for those of you keeping score).
I really doubt that God needs atomic weapons to do the job, but there you have it. We quickly switch to a radio sitting on the table (it is definitely not a short wave radio, but the prop department wants us to believe that it is, so just go with it).
The disc jockey is saying that the radiation level in his studio is 632 roentgens, which is over 100 roentgens more than the lethal dose of 500 roentgens. That D.J. is a mensch! Anywho, he must have a Geiger counter available (Don’t all radio stations have them for just such emergencies?), and he helpfully exposits that the first of over 1,000 atomic bombs fell over 15 hours prior, and that the first fell on Formosa. Why Formosa? That little strip of land in Argentina never hurt anyone. I guess in the year 2889 they become a superpower.
A little sly exposition lets us in on the fact that Larry, Joanna Ramsey’s husband to be is “overdue” and that she should give up waiting on him. Say, Mr. Tactfulness, the bombs fell 15 hours ago and he was across the freaking country! That pesky atomic war might slow him down a bit!
Larry without the really bad makeup…oops!
Dad Ramsey further exposits that “…They’re all lost, New York, Paris, Moscow… All is quiet now.” Time out! How in heck can he know this? The only information source he has is a crappy AM/FM radio, and there is only one radiation soaked DJ on that! Sigh.
Pops gets excited after he reads his handy dandy Geiger counter and finds that the outside air (The entire movie was shot on sunny Texas summer afternoons, it seems. I guess nuclear winter wasn’t a worry) is “holding at 47 roentgens!” (FYI, 1 roentgen is 100,000 times the normal background radiation of an average city, and 500 roentgens is lethal) so by simple math the two idiots are basking in the warmth of almost 10% of the lethal dose of radiation, and are happy about it! No kids for either one of you!
Eventually, the two tire of mutating their DNA and go inside to Pops’ large home. Suddenly, scratching and knocking are heard at the curtained door and Pops is instantly suspicious. “If it were Larry, he’d come to the front door!” remarks the gun toting dad. “Don’t open the door, no matter who is there, he or she is sure to be lethally radioactive” admonishes a wise Pops Ramsey. Joanna pooh pooh’s the silly notion, and opens the door without taking the simple precaution of moving the flimsy cloth curtain aside and looking through the clear glass pane.
A man collapses into the room, and despite Pop’s warning, they both end up touching him. They quickly confirm his non-Larry status. One look at non-Larry, and they can see that he has soaked up a plethora of radiation, his face and hands are blistered and pocked. Unlike in the comic books, the radiation doesn’t afford him special powers or even the meager ability to glow in the dark.
Non-Larry gets a reading!
Pops whips out his handy seemingly gerbil powered Death-O-Meter… I mean Geiger counter and takes a reading from non-Larry. “He’s hotter than a Roman candle! He is showing over 740 rads!”. I guess his radiation induced super power is to be able to endure more than lethal doses of radiation… A pretty crappy super power if you ask me. Judiciously, Pops wants to dump his lethal carcass outside, thus keeping him and lovely Joanna alive for the foreseeable future. Joanna once again defies Pops, and prepares to show non-Larry to one of the many guest rooms in the house. Sigh.
Non Larry’s brother pops in, and fills everyone in on some much needed back story: Indeed, the entire globe is radioactive, death and radiation sickness everywhere but this little valley, etc. “My brother’s name is Grainger Morrow, and I’m Steve”, he says with a knowing grin, one of 3 he has in the entire flick. Pops finally introduces himself as John Ramsey, thereby filling in the less astute spectators like me as to his real name. “They can’t stay; we only have enough food and water to last a month for the three of us” John, sounding like a broken record at this point opines. Get used to this; he says it at least a dozen times. Joanna shows her surly side by ignoring ol’ dad’s prudent advice not to touch either Steve or Grainger, and helps get both of them up to a spare bedroom. John sighs.
Mickey and Moll
Click-clack! The doorknob jiggles a bit and blam! A gunshot rings out and the handle now turns freely. In walk a smarmy dude (Mickey) and his moll (Jada). John wisely points his revolver at the two and demands he hand over the gun and leave. Joanna quickly offers the two trigger happy felons (I.E. breaking and entering) a room at their hotel… I mean home. Dad, sounding like a tired broken record, bleats “They can’t stay here, we have no food or water for them…Etcetera.” Sigh.
Jada, dressed like a stripper, actually is a stripper. They both give Ol’ Dad the stink eye and go with Joanna to their room. At this point, John should be thinking of filling up the Jeep with all of the food and water, knocking Joanna on the noggin with a brick, and taking her with him to take their chances elsewhere. You had food and water for 3 people for 1 month, now you have 6 people so your rations will last only 2 weeks.
Cut to Steve sitting on the steps at night (noon for night, you can plainly see shadows and yes, crickets are foleyed into the soundtrack at abnormal levels to convince the gentle viewer that this is indeed, night). He is smoking as usual, and a whiskey jug guzzling rancher (Tim Henderson) from over the hill wanders into view, ostensibly window peeping at Joanna. Steve, understandably upset, tackles him but has a bizarre change of heart and invites him to stay. I guess he wanted to beat Joanna to the punch on this one.
Later the next morning, everyone (save Grainger) is seated around the dining table eating. John tells everyone that since this is his house, he is large and in charge. They all scoff at this, most notably Mickey, who votes himself in as king. Ignoring this fool, John further advises everyone that Steve is his second in command. I guess Joanna, as a mere woman (His own daughter) couldn’t be trusted with the job. Look closely, this is about the only time you see Steve without a cigarette in his mouth.
Doesn’t everyone build exact scale models of their homes?
Exposition time! Dad explains that the looming mountains surrounding the valley they are in contain lots of lead, and so the radiation is stopped. If the rain holds off for a few days, they are home free. He even made a scale model, complete with trees, lake, house, etc. to show off with! Mickey demands to know when he and Jada can leave, as they have big plans in Los Angeles. John tells them to leave, has told them to leave, and will, in all probability, continue to tell them to leave! Everyone admonishes Mickey that “Los Angeles… Is gone…” Mickey doesn’t believe them, as he’d rather find out for himself. Sigh. He never does leave, though.
John tells everyone at the table that “Since everyone else is …Gone… The people here at this table will have to create a new civilization. Jada doesn’t seem upset by this; I guess she has had fantasies along those lines at one point or another in her life. Joanna, on the other hand, balks at this. I guess Larry is still in her thoughts, even though chain smoking Steve is sitting right there with a gleam in his eye… At this point I thought “Dump Grainger into a hole, get that radioactive sponge the heck out of the house, tell Mickey to get on his way to Los Angeles, tell Tim the alky to hit the road, keep Jada for “repopulation purposes” and start making babies!” Alas, the writers went a different route.
Armored animals from nuclear testing!
John tells everyone about his time as Captain of a ship during the atomic tests. He was in charge of picking up the hulk that housed test animals and drew up pictures of the results. Ol’ Dad is a pretty fair hand with pencil and paper, I must say. Anywho, Mr. atomic monkey scares everyone and forces me to go into abbreviated bullet mode to get to the finale of this endless seeming stinker:
Grainger (remember him?) wakes up and spurns human food and wants to go hunting.
A snaggle toothed mutated monster (Mask and gloves only) wearing dress clothes lurks about the house.
Steve exposits that it has been 3 weeks since the movie started (I believe him!) and Grainger finally got out of bed, and he hasn’t eaten or drank anything. (I thought that they had only 2 weeks’ worth of food and now have 6 people eating?)
Snaggle Tooth watches Steve and Joanna kiss, and she “feels” his presence. (Bum! Bum! Bum!)
Steve posits that since a small amount of radiation can wreak small changes in human DNA over a long period of time, a large dose should produce large changes in a short period of time.
Mickey tries to rape Joanna, no one seems to care much except Jada.
John confesses that the animals he towed from the ground zero atomic bomb test ship (a chipmunk, a dog, and a monkey) were armored and had steel claws!
Steve and John find Grainger’s’ body on a path that they trod mere minutes ago. Ergo, he was killed there, or it was deposited there after they walked by. No tears are shed by brother Steve.
Tim the alcoholic runs to find booze (John broke his last jug o’ juice earlier) and runs through a fog that is filled with radioactive particles, according to John’s Death-O-Meter. Scratch Tim.
Mickey once again tries raping Joanna, but she escapes. Mickey then kills Jada because the script told him to. Hey, moron! There are 2 women total left on the planet and you kill one of them? What were you thinking?
John gives Steve a pistol and tells him to go kill Mickey (he doesn’t know about the 2 attempted rapes yet, I checked) because he will try to take over and John is recovering from a badly sprained ankle.
Joanna, who admittedly knows that there is a monster outside lurking in the bushes, decides to go for a walk to give ol’ Snaggie a fighting chance at her. Sigh.
Psst! Remember to act scared!
Snaggie jumps out from the bushes, Joanna screams, and like all females in monster movies do when confronted by the deadly monster, faints. Double sigh. Fainting when confronted by a monster seems counter-productive to me. Fight or flight would be my first choices.
Mickey, fresh from a second rape attempt at Joanna and a fresh murder of Jada, asks John when he can leave. He steals John’s gun, but John had another hiding under his blanket. Smart man! Dad shoots Mickey before he can kill again.
John hears Joanna scream when she awakens in the monsters’ arms (I guess Snaggie just made a few laps around the house with her, if she is still close enough for Ol’ Dad to hear her scream).
The prop department insisted that I include this picture.
John tells Steve to go get his 30 round Luger out of the armory and go save her.
Lightning flashes, Steve finds Snaggle-Tooth and confronts him.
Steve shoots Snaggie 3 times (No need for a 30 rounder, I guess!) and it doesn’t faze him.
In a Hitchcock-ian twist, Snaggle Tooth is actually Larry, her betrothed paramour.
The rain starts to fall, and it kills Snaggie. Steve tests the rain, and wonder of wonders, it is pure! Yay! Over 1,000 atomic bombs fell and it only took Mother Nature less than a month to clean herself of deadly radiation. Steve and Joanna lock lips.
Karl Hoegle (March 2017)
Things I have learned from this movie:
One thing I was pleasantly surprised by, the writers refrained mightily NOT to name Steve and Joanna Adam and Eve. That would have been the cherry on a bad, bad movie sundae. No special effects other than stock footage to speak of, and filming was done in one location, so I am not surprised that it got the greenlight. The pacing was the major downfall, it plodded on with not much happening for loooong stretches. With some deft editing, a few forays to other homes for supplies, a lot more armed interaction with mutants, and this might have worked.