Sunday, January 3, 2016

END OF THE WORLD (1977)




Rating: PG
Running time: 88 min.

Directed by: John Hayes - other credits include Mama's Dirty Girls, Jailbait Babysitter and Hot Lunch.

Starring: 

Christopher Lee as "Father Pergado/Zindar". Other credits include The Creeping Flesh, The Return of Captain Invincible and Police Academy: Mission to Moscow.

Sue Lyon as "Sylvia Boran". Other credits include The Astral Factor, Towing and Alligator.

Kirk Scott as "Professor Andrew Boran". Other credits include Did Baby Shoot Her Sugardaddy? and Heathers.

End of the World was released during a time when films like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind were capturing everyone's collective imaginations. After seeing this film, it's not hard to discover why it was forgotten and got lost in the shuffle amongst other better films in the genre. However, with that said, it was not an all out horrible film. Let me elaborate by summarizing the plot where I can.

The movie begins on a high note with promise of carnage and chaos. Father Pergado (Lee) stumbles into a diner, where the only person in there is the owner who is playing pinball at the time. Pergado mumbles something about needing to call the police, and eyes the payphone (say what?) on the wall. The diner owner gives him a quarter, but before Pergado can use it the payphone (Google it) explodes! Then immediately following that, the coffee machine behind the counter also explodes, sending scalding hot coffee into the eyes of the diner guy, who proceeds to accidentally throw himself through the neon sign in the window, killing him. Pergado walks back to the convent and is welcomed back by...himself. This all happens in the cold open of the film, before the credits. It's the stuff that takes place after the opening credits where the film loses steam.

Professor Andrew Boran (Scott) is investigating signals from outer space in his late-1970's style computer lab, complete with spinning tape cabinets and cartoony bleeps and bloops. This becomes an obsession for him, as he totally forgets about a banquet being given in his honor. Here's the thing with Boran: he alternates between two phases; obsessed with outer space signals and obsessed with banging his wife (Lyon). There is no in-between with this guy. He is so obsessed with his investigation that he neglects some other duties at the office, as his boss tells him "You haven't checked the negative velocity sector in some time." That sounds important, whatever it is.

His investigation takes him to the very convent where Pergado is located. Boran and his wife arrive to check the place out, but Pergado is all like "Nope, no transmitter here. Don't know what you're talking about." Boran and his wife continue to snoop around, as Boran scans the place with some sort of power surge device while Mrs. Boran admires the drapes and crown molding. Without finding anything, they depart but Boran insists on going back at night, because all suspicious activity occurs at night. This is when they are busted and taken captive and brought to the basement of the convent. Here we get the image of a bunch of nuns working on some alien tech in a control room. It is at this point that Pergado reveals himself and the nuns to be clones of the people who were once there. They arrived on earth to take advantage of it's resources but now want to leave because Earth does not appear to be a very friendly place. Their plan is to set up catastrophes around the globe, such as massive earthquakes and destructive volcanoes, then leave the planet before it is destroyed.

The catch is that the aliens need something that is missing in order to use their "time warp". Here is the conversation that Boran has with the Pergado clone:

Boran: We developed an emergency speed.
Pergado: How many kilometres per hour?
Boran: Close to 200 million.
Pergado: And how did you achieve this?
Boran: A small capsule containing zero time reference. A variance crystal.
Pergado: That is precisely what we need.

I would never be able to get through the rehearsals with a straight face. This conversation was a highlight for myself, as I could not believe what I was listening to. The plot moves on to the aliens holding Boran's wife hostage until he returns from his lab with the crystal. I will not spoil the rest of the story, just in case you wish to see it.

After the hot first two minutes, the film got bogged down in Boran's investigation into the signals and the subsequent tracking of the transmission locations. Nothing really happened in the hour or so in between the opening and the conclusion. That doesn't make this a bad film, just a dull one. The usual b-movie tropes that I look for are here in this film: bad acting, horrible dialogue, questionable direction. Christopher Lee has gone on record stating that he regretted making this film, but I'm pretty sure that if we scoped his filmography there would be even more questionable decisions made by his agent (The Stupids, anyone?). The plot was so over-the-top silly that it should have worked, but the vast emptiness that was the middle portion of this film prevented it from doing so.

I'm going to suggest that if you see this film, watch the first couple of minutes, then fast forward to the last third. But who really does that?

Score: 2/5. 



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