MAY 31, 2008
George Romero has frequently listed Carnival of Souls as a source of inspiration for Night Of The Living Dead, but I don't think The Earth Dies Screaming has ever been name-checked. Which is surprising, because it is even more similar than Carnival, in my opinion. Both feature a group of folks holed up in a single location (a hotel), our hero is hated by another, balder survivor, and everyone's dead EXCEPT our heroes, not the other way around.
It's a pretty good movie to boot, despite an abrupt ending. The movie is only 62 minutes long, and with only 7 to go they haven't really begun fighting back or making any real plans to escape their predicament. But then, all of a sudden, the hero begins rambling about finding a radio transmission by doing some simple triangulation (which he does wrong), they drive over to the radio tower, blow it up, and the movie's over. Did they have it in their contract that the movie could only be 62 minutes long?
As for the zombies, they are also rather short-changed. Our villains, robotic men that may be from our own government (our being the British - the American government would NEVER do something so shady!) occasionally ray-gun someone, and they come back as staggering, mindless drones with giant contact lenses to white out their eyes. They don't eat anyone (dammit) but they are, for all intents and purposes, zombies. But their cumulative screentime is brief, even relative to the film's already-brief length. Speaking of the robots, the best moment in the film comes when this is discovered by our heroes. They kill one and see all the robot shit inside its corpse. "A robot!", the hero exclaims, "That makes sense!" He's not being sarcastic.
The opening scene is fantastic. We see the immediate results of the virus that has killed everyone. A guy driving a car dies and the car instantly beelines for a brick wall, a train conductor dies and the train smashes off the rails; a pilot dies and the plane suffers a low-budget plane crash (it goes behind some trees and then we see some smoke); etc. But just when you think that perhaps the virus is limited to killing only folks who are operating transportation vehicles, a few Brits in traditional bowler hats suddenly drop dead for good measure. If they chose to pad out the running time by just displaying an endless succession of folks dropping dead, I would fully endorse the decision.
I also like that the movie always has corpses lying around in the background. So many post-apocalyptic movies are lacking in this department; everyone's dead, but they are nowhere to be seen. It's one thing when it's a full on zombie film, but otherwise it's always been an issue of mine. Blame my morbid sense of humor added to my love of background extras (an organization for which my 'membership' has recently run out - if Navy NCIs ever needs the return of my dockworker character, they will have to recast).
Incidentally, the only reason I rented this film was because it came along with a movie I actually wanted titled Chosen Survivors. I thought the film was a horror movie, but I checked the IMDb before I sat down to watch it and it is listed as Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi or something. The trailer made me think it was horror, so I will have to watch it and decide whether it qualifies on a day that I have time to watch something else if not. If any of you fine folks have seen it - do you think it counts as horror? Supposedly killer bats are in there but I don't know if they are the focus or just the subject of a single sequence.
What say you?