The Manor On Movies contamination, er, contribution to the
The trailer for The Last Days Of Planet Earth (1974) could easily be an ad for one of those “Miracle Products” hawked on low-ad-rate TV stations or, better yet, the pitch of a carnival barker.
That’s right, friends, we have every grisly means of death you can imagine. You say you want drowning, flaming fatalities, plagues and hara kiri? We’ve got them all, folks. Deadly leeches? We’ve got a million of ‘em!
But, wait, there’s more!!!
Some junkfilms deserve special attention for waaaay over the top performances or for dialogue conceived by someone we can only hope doesn’t vote or have a driver’s license. Others do so for severe storyline inanity, dunderheaded directorial decisions or blatant disregard for delivering what the title and ads promise.
But besides the aforementioned qualities, there are those magical movies that merit praise for holding Best/Most/Biggest honors, going to the extreme to proudly showcase the lunacy of those at the helm. Three cheers for anyone who blissfully shouts “Screw convention!”
The Last Days Of Planet Earth is the holder of the coveted intergalactic record for Most Human Casualties By An Assortment Of Methods. Ah, the wholesale slaughter of the masses by every means under (and including) the sun: Could there possibly be a more rewarding viewing experience?
Sure. we’ve all seen flicks where a town or three get totaled by natural disasters, alien attacks,man-made viruses, supernatural armies and 50-foot amphibians. Then there are the Fail-Safe spinoffs, wherein military mini-minds trade weapons barrages. Though there are a variety of dirty-deeds-doers, these storylines are virtually all a variation on one of two themes: Hour-plus build-up until the big baddie strikes in an effects extravaganza; or, intermittent attacks by an impervious man-mulcher until “the authorities” devise a cockamamie cure.
Note that, in every case, the diligent defenders of humankind marshal their forces against what is essentially a single enemy. One good brainstorm and the killer robot, Martian mothership or bee swarm is licked. Not so in Last Days.
In fact, if this movie doesn’t contain more varieties of mortality than any other entry in the Nature’s Fury Blogathon, I will gladly refund host Barry P. Cinematic the $1000 he Paypalled me to enter and said not to tell the others about.
Framed by momentum-killing sequences rambling on about Nostradamus–an “in” commodity at the time of filming, which also explains its alternate title, The Prophecies Of Nostradamus–Last Days tosses so much fatal mayhem on the screen, it’s surprising someone doesn’t get killed by a kitchen sink. And this is a worldwide ass-whuppin’, too, not merely domestic dismay.
As is traditional in Toho Studio productions, the standard A-type Japanese scientist is feverishly preaching ecological fire and brimstone as bureaucrats ignore his hyperactive pleas to heed the cryptic claptrap of an often-wrong round-eye who’s been dead for centuries.
Hate to break it to you, Senor Science-Man, but fat-cat island natives unconcerned about stuffing themselves with endangered sea species are hardly the most receptive audience to an “It is written that we will all spontaneously combust if even one of us flicks a Frito out of a window” sermon–especially when your “scientific proof” amounts to “This crazy cracker wrote an entire book of vague predictions and, eventually, something slightly resembling a handful of them came to pass.”
Professor Panic’s speech provides a framework for what’s yet to come in our travelogue of tragedy, an exhilarating montage of the glorious systematic extermination of all Earth-bound life forms. Director Toshio Mashuda periodically brings us back to the scaredy-cat scientist–something akin to a cinematic cigarette break–and then we’re once again whisked off to a ride with the Grim Reaper.
Mother Earth is initially violated by gigantic slugs; monstrous plants; frozen oceans; a chronic drought causing mass starvation; carnivorous trees; daylight attacks by huge vampire bats as well as by enlarged leeches whose bites induce insanity; and, deformed jungle tribes. But this is just the warm-up act.
After kids temporarily turn bionic then croak and the sun begins frying folks alive, we’re treated to the heartwarming sight of forest fires, tidal waves setting off urban refinery explosions, the ozone shield collapsing, flooding, landslides and fatal respiratory diseases. Yahoo, tens of millions are being erased internationally!
“But, wait, there’s more.”
We’ve got anarchy, road rage, immorality among youths, young Ziggy Stardust-resembling sailboaters in a “regatta of death” suicide cruise, meticulously clean bikers intentionally riding their rice-burners off cliffs (with one stunt man missing the lake and actually nailing the rocks!) and rioting in the streets for food.
It just doesn’t get any better than this. Hang on a minute; yes, it does. Just when you thought it was safe to loot the 7-11, the sky turns into a “reflex mirror,” touching off volcanoes, earthquakes, stuff blowing up for no apparent reason and global nuke war, its missile strikes leveling virtually everything, but leaving a few post-apocalyptic mutants alive to attack each other. Now that’s what I call (nuclear) family entertainment!!!
Alas, to the deep dismay of fellow sociopaths everywhere, the wide-reaching wipeout is merely a projection of what might happen if the Prof’s anti-pollution whining goes ignored. Boooooo, it wasn’t a documentary after all. Nonetheless, there’s always hope.
Postscript: If director Toshio Mashuda’s name rings familiar, it will very likely be because he also gave us Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) which, it turns out, is not an Irish lullaby. Oh, Toshio, must you always disappoint?
My reviews normally are found at ManorOnMovie.com. You should go there pronto, since we’re all doomed!!!