|Day the World Ended|
Theatrical release poster
by Albert Kallis
|Directed by||Roger Corman|
|Produced by||Roger Corman|
|Written by||Lou Rusoff|
|Narrated by||Chet Huntley|
|Music by||Ronald Stein|
|Cinematography||Jockey Arthur Feindel|
(as Jock Feindel)
|Edited by||Ronald Sinclair|
Golden State Productions
|Distributed by||American Releasing Corporation (ARC)|
|Box office||$400,000 (part of double feature)|
Day the World Ended is a 1955 independently made black-and-white post-apocalyptic science fiction film, produced and directed by Roger Corman, that stars Richard Denning, Lori Nelson, Adele Jergens, and Mike Connors. Chet Huntley of NBC, later of The Huntley-Brinkley Report, served as the film's narrator. Day the World Ended was released by American Releasing Corporation (later American International Pictures) as a double feature with The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues.
The film's storyline centers on a heroic scientist who, with a small band of other survivors, must face off against a mutant monster following an atomic war that appears to have destroyed human civilization.
An atomic war has seemingly destroyed most, if not all, of human civilization, leaving the Earth contaminated with radioactive fallout. The apparent single exception is an isolated box canyon, surrounded by lead-bearing cliffs, in which former U.S. Navy Commander Jim Maddison (Paul Birch) lives with his daughter Louise (Lori Nelson) in a home that he has stockpiled with supplies in anticipation of such an apocalypse. Louise is engaged to be married, but her fiancé is missing.
Into this natural bomb shelter stumble survivors, who by chance were inside the canyon when the atomic war occurred. After initially refusing to admit them, Jim relents when his daughter appeals to his humanity. Among the survivors are a geologist, Rick (Richard Denning), who happens to specialize in uranium mining, and a small-time hood, Tony (Mike Connors) with his "moll" Ruby (Adele Jergens), who were on their way to San Francisco.
There are two struggles for survival: the first is a simple question of whether the radioactive fallout will dissipate, and if so, if it will do so before the rain comes to wash out what is in the atmosphere to fall to Earth, contaminating the shelter. The second threat comes in the form of a hideous atomic mutated monster (Paul Blaisdell), which seems bent on killing anything it comes across, but only consuming those creatures contaminated by fallout.
A less obvious but no less dangerous threat is the hidden menace of Tony. Although seemingly charming and helpful, his true character and intentions are that he wants the other men out of the way, so that he can have both women for himself.
All three dangers coincide as the mutated monster kidnaps Louise. It then releases her into a small lake, where it is obviously afraid to enter. Rick appears and attacks the creature, but it runs away as it begins to rain. Following the creature as it is being destroyed by the rain, they come to realize that the creature is Louise's missing fiancé. Tony, having stabbed Ruby to death after she realized that he wants to be with the younger Louise, then steals Jim's pistol. He quietly waits to ambush Rick when he returns with Louise. As Tony takes aim, Jim produces a second pistol and shoots Tony dead.
Jim has been slowly expiring from radiation poisoning. He reveals that the rain is radiation-free and will wash away all of the remaining contamination, making the world safe to venture out into again. As he dies, Jim also reveals that he has heard voices of other survivors on the radio. After the rain, Rick and Louise, now the final two survivors, walk hand-in-hand out of the canyon (as the end card "The Beginning" appears on screen).
- Richard Denning as Rick
- Lori Nelson as Louise Maddison
- Adele Jergens as Ruby
- Mike Connors (credited as Touch Connors) as Tony Lamont
- Paul Birch as Jim Maddison
- Raymond Hatton as Pete
- Paul Dubov as Radek
- Jonathan Haze as Contaminated Man
- Paul Blaisdell as Mutant
- Roger Corman as Nelson, Louise's fiancé in framed photograph (uncredited)
- Chet Huntley as Narrator (uncredited)
To be on the safe side, Nicholson wanted Roger Corman to produce and direct. But he did throw me a bone as executive producer for Golden State Productions, because I was doing an awful lot on that picture. Not only did I get virtually the entire cast, except for Paul Birch, Jonathan Haze and Paul Dubov — Corman’s regulars — ^but I also did any number of ’other things, down to being the office boy [laughs], and everything else! I figured I should get something there, so Nicholson said, “Well, you can be executive producer on Apache Woman and Day the World Ended.
Filming started September 8, 1955. The film's monster was made from foam rubber, claws from a magic shop, and toe nails carved from white pine.
Paul Blaisdell created and portrayed the monster in the film. Due to Blaisdell's height, he had limited visibility while in the costume. This caused problems when he had to carry Nelson, and almost caused Blaisdell to drown when the costume began to fill with water during filming.
Day the World Ended was the fourth film directed by Corman, and his first in the science fiction/horror genre. The film was shot over 10 days on a budget of $96,234.49. Denning was paid $7,500, plus a percentage.
Alex Gordon said Corman tended to not direct actors at this stage of the career. "Lori Nelson particularly needed help [from a director]; she was used to getting it at Universal," said Gordon. "One day she was kind of saying, “Gee, Roger won’t tell me anything. I’m doing it the best I can, but he’s not directing me..." But there was no crisis or anything."
The film was released in December 1955 with The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues. The pairing proved popular with audiences, due in part to some savvy marketing by Nicholson. In January 1956, the films were released simultaneously in 250 New England theaters grossing $45,000 from just 2 Boston theaters in its first week. Within two months of release, both films had earned $400,000.
In February 1956 Variety reported the film as costing $65,000 and said it had earned more than $400,000 and was on track to make $1 million.
At the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 3 out of 5 critics gave the film a positive review, but it only holds an audience approval score of 40%. It holds a low 5.4 out of 10 at the Internet Movie Database, based on reviews by 1,200 users. Creature Feature gave the move three out of five stars, finding the move ludicrous but fun. 
In popular culture
The film was referenced in a later 2001 horror film of a similar title, The Day the World Ended.
- Gordon, Alex (May 1983). "The Pit and the Pen of Alex Gordon". Fangoria. No. 27. p. 37.
- MOVIELAND EVENTS: Adele Jergens Stars in Science Thriller Los Angeles Times 6 Aug 1955: 13.
- "Uninterested in Academy Awards". Variety. 24 November 1954. p. 4.
- Tom Weaver, Earth Vs. the Sci-fi Filmmakers: 20 Interviews McFarland, 2005 p 115-126
- Weaver, Tom (January 2004). "The Day His World Began". Fangoria. p. 68.
- Frank, Alan. The Films of Roger Corman. Batsford (1998)
- Frank, Alan. The Films of Roger Corman. Batsford (1995)
- Frank, Alan. The Films of Roger Corman. Batsford (1998)
- Alan Frank, The Films of Alan Frank: Shooting My Way Out of Trouble, Bath Press, 1998 p 28
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p46-49
- Gary A. Smith, American International Pictures: The Golden Years, Bear Manor Media 2014 p 25
- "Gore & Exploitation Boxoffice Life-Blood". Variety. January 25, 1956. p. 15 – via Archive.org.
- "Terror's Boston Profit Kick". Variety. January 25, 1956. p. 9 – via Archive.org.
- "$65,000 'Day' may hit $1,000,000". Variety. 22 February 1956. p. 3.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Internet Movie Database
- Stanely, J (2000) Creature feature Third Edition
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching The Skies, American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, Vol I: 1950–1957. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1982. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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