According to the internet (so it must be true), Christopher Lee was tricked, bamboozled, conned, into being in End of the World, the 1977 sci-fi dog from legendary shitty movie producer Charles Band. But, the actor doth protest too much, methinks. It’s not like Lee was known for being in the best films Hollywood or England had to offer, and I’m sure his wounded pride was salved once the check cleared.
But, what about we viewers? Is this just another flick that’s all title and nothing else? Does it deliver on the promise of a world that is ending? Indeed, it does! It also delivers a lot of walking and talking, and hardly any action. Oh, well. That’s the hazard of being a shitty movie fan. Often, the movies are just shit.
One note before getting into the review proper. When I first began watching this flick, it was on the streaming service Tubi, which a user can watch for free, the payment being occasional TV-style ad breaks. But, not long into the film, I noticed something was off. Everything seemed slow and somnambulistic, like I was watching the film through a filter of bourbon and alprazolam. I wasn’t imagining things. Tubi, in what I’m sure was an effort to cram in another ad break, added twenty minutes to this film’s running time, by slowing everything down. It’s an egregious butchering of a film that was already struggling with a slow pace. It was so bad, in fact, that slow pans in the film were jumpy, because the original frame rate had to adjust to the lengthening. I’ve only seen a couple of films on Tubi, but if this is how they treat films, I have to recommend viewers avoid the service if there are other alternatives available.
As it happened for me, there was. In went a discount DVD, formatted for CRT televisions, with a ghastly print and bad sound, and it was still better than what Tubi is foisting on potential viewers.
Written by Frank Ray Perilli (who penned the legendary Laserblast) and directed by John Hayes (whose other film in 1977 was Jailbait Babysitter), End of the World follows husband and wife team Andrew and Sylvia Boran (Kirk Scott and Sue Lyon), as they investigate a mysterious radio signal that predicts natural disasters on Earth.
Andrew is a NASA scientist who works in one of those depressing, windowless computer labs that is packed with machinery and nothing else, while Sylvia is just very supportive of her husband.
Andrew tracks down the signal’s transmission point to a convent somewhere in the hills north of Los Angeles. The convent is being run by Father Pergado (Lee), who is not really a Catholic priest, but an alien who, along with the nuns of the convent, was sent to Earth to destroy it before we infect the rest of the galaxy with our nonsense.
Before that can be done, Pergado and the nuns need to get out of Dodge, but they can’t do that without very specific help that only Andrew can provide. Lucky for them that Andrew happened to get curious about this errant signal he discovered. I just love it when a pivotal plot point is based on wild coincidence.
There’s more talking, a little action, and then, per the title, an explosive end to Earth. Spoiler alert? This movie didn’t deserve one.
Really, the only notable thing about this film is that many scenes were shot at the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California, where the Space Shuttle Enterprise was being constructed. I have no idea how Band was able to swing that, but there the Enterprise was, in all its glory, before delivery to NASA at Edwards Air Force Base.
Other than that, this flick stinks. It’s a throwback to the worst 1950’s b-movies, akin to something Ed Wood would make, or Roger Corman at his worst. It’s cheap, too, with bottom-feeding effects, makeup, and a climax that lifts much footage from whatever old sci-fi flicks Band could license. There just isn’t enough to keep a viewer’s attention, especially in the age of smartphones.
End of the World tumbles way down the Watchability Index, displacing the 2002 remake of Rollerball at #299. Stay away.