THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING: 60s Sci-Fi in 60 Minutes

The Earth Dies Screaming is now available on Blu-ray.

Letterboxd Synopsis
A crack space pilot returns to earth to find the planet has been devastated by some unknown forces. There are a few survivors, so he organizes them in a plan to ward off control by a group of killer robots.

The Movie

Who… or what were they…

This is the central question for most of the brief runtime of The Earth Dies Screaming, a fun black and white 60s Sci-Fi B-Movie with an A-Title. It was recently released on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber with very few extras, but includes a nice picture, good sound, and a fun movie.

Hammer horror director Terence Fisher helmed The Earth Dies Screaming, starring Willard Parker, Virginia Field, and Dennis Price. Because it’s Terence Fisher, it feels more like a horror flick than a traditional Sci-Fi B-Movie. In fact, it reminded me most of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

It’s more about the apocalypse than aliens, and it is more concerned with the silent emptiness that would occur if most of humanity died than it is with cooking up scary creatures. The first 10 minutes contain no dialogue, and is our hero silently wandering desolate towns. You don’t even see the threat for quite some time, and although the aliens aren’t something that would normally be worth waiting for, the journey to get there is filled with good arguments and figuring out how to survive in this new world.

Speaking of the aliens, the monster design is generic and probably the weakest link in the film, but their menacing lumbering was sufficient enough to keep me engaged. I have a soft spot for robot aliens – they’re cold and unfeeling like zombies, and their total lack of humanity is what makes them threatening.

The heart of the film is the small group of strangers banding together to work against an outside threat. Like zombie films, the interplay between characters is the backbone for the horror. No matter how dangerous these monsters are, humans can be even worse.

This is definitely one of the better films in its genre, and for its time was unique. It worked within its limited budget much like early zombie films, highlighting character interplay before thrills.

The Quality

The Package
Great poster art adorns the cover, but there’s nothing else special or noteworthy about the packaging.

The Picture
The presentation is fine but nothing special, probably just as much due to the film’s limited budget than any transfer or restoration. There’s good detail and grain but this isn’t revelatory like some older black and white Criterion movies.

The Audio
Same as the picture – the budget limits the quality more than anything else. It’s a good restoration with few pops, and the quality won’t distract you from the film.

The Special Features

Audio Commentary by Film Historian Richard Harland Smith
One great thing about having a 60 minute movie is that you can watch the movie and the commentary in the same time it would take you to see one normal-length film. The track is form film historian Richard Harland Smith, and is frequently entertaining and educational.

Animated Photo Montage of publicity and behind the scenes pictures
Nothing special.

The Bottom Line

An incredibly barebones release, but probably the best this movie will ever get. If you consider yourself a Sci-Fi fan, I highly recommend The Earth Dies Screaming: it’s 60s black and white post-apocalypse first and foremost, with enjoyable enough character interplay and cheesy monsters.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
the author

David works for a huge tech company at the moment, does freelance video editing on the side, tries to make films, and occasionally spends his time helping this website run. He lives in Austin, Texas, and is a co-founder of Cinapse. His film philosophy is that there is no difference between "high" art and "low" art, cerebral art house films and Fast Five both bring things to the table and have merit in their own right. Some favorite directors in no particular order: Paul Thomas Anderson, Kubrick, Spielberg, Tarantino, Edgar Wright, John Carpenter, Ridley Scott. Twitter: @daviddelgadoh