The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

This was the first of three science fiction films directed by Hammer icon Terrence Fisher (see my review of Island of Terror), and by far the shortest, clocking in just under an hour.

I have to (once again) confess a definite weakness for British SF from the Fifties and Sixties, particularly those that were to one extent or another influenced by the Quatermass films and their blend of horror with science fiction.  Which is certainly true of The Earth Dies Screaming.

This is not one of the great classics of the era.  However, it is admirably tense and uses its minimal budget to tremendous effect.  Something has killed most of the people in England – and probably the Earth – and a handful of survivors gather in a small town.  Only they aren’t quite alone – and the dead just won’t stay put.

In many respects, it seems almost a remake of Target Earth! (1954), although here they actually try to fight back against the alien menace.

It handles the mystery of what has happened quite well and builds a certain amount of suspense.  It does put some effort into making its characters interesting and uses its alien menaces sparingly enough to keep them scary.  It’s probably too tame for modern tastes, but for those who like the older, subtler school of horror, it is an interesting – if minor – film, obviously intended as a “B” picture.

However, I should note that their victory over the menace – even if it is only local – is far too easy, and may seem a tad disappointing.

Certainly Quatermass never had to deal with an alien menace that was this easy to defeat.

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