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on 27 October 2007
Following a mysterious global gas attack that apparently wipes out most of mankind, a disparate group of survivors find themselves battling a robotic enemy from space...
The Earth Dies Screaming is one of Terence Fisher's least well-known and most underrated movies, the first of several science fiction flicks he made for independent producers in between his 1960s' Hammer horror gigs, and the only one to rival his best gothic chillers in terms of atmosphere. An apocalyptic tale of alien invasion (with a bit of Cold War paranoia thrown in), it's a cheap, short second feature that overcomes its (very) limited budget to impress as a genuine hidden gem, featuring an eerie score by Elizabeth Lutyens, icy black-and-white cinematography by Arthur Lavis, and a compact (though ambiguous) little script. The cast, headed up by second-tier western fixture Willard Parker, isn't starry in any sense, though the great Dennis Price (Kind Hearts and Coronets) is reliably good as a shifty villain, and Thorley Walters, who usually provokes irritation in the audience via his comic relief turns in Fisher's horror films, is here excellent in a relatively serious role (watch out for him shooting Price in the balls). Though filmed mainly at Shepperton studios, The Earth Dies Screaming's location work was done in and around the Surrey village of Shere, which has recently been invaded by a different kind of menace; tourists, who now apparently flock there after it was used as a location for the recent Cameron Diaz / Jude Law rom-com The Holiday.
Whilst it's nice to see Terence Fisher's 1964 B-movie find its way onto DVD (albeit Region 1 only), it's certainly fulfilling its original function in that it's making up the lower half of one of Twentieth Century Fox's 'Midnite Movies' double features; in this case it has been paired up with a minor US thriller from 1974 called Chosen Survivors, a film whose only connection to The Earth Dies Screaming is that they happen to share the same screenwriter, Harry Spalding. Considering other double bills in this collection include well-paired duos like Devils of Darkness and Witchcraft (both 1964), surely a better pick for a co-feature here would have been the similarly Fisher-directed, Robert L. Lippert-produced, Price-starring spoof chiller The Horror of It All (also 1964)? Unseen for decades, it is a film that is yet to see the light of day from Fox on DVD (though admittedly, that's probably because it sucks); as an aside, it actually formed a double feature with the aforementioned Witchcraft when it first played in cinemas.
Carping about the overall content of this Region 1 release put to one side, it is certainly good value if you want to take a look at either movie; however, as a British viewer, I hope that The Earth Dies Screaming eventually makes its way onto Region 2 DVD in some form too.
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on 12 January 2010
"THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING," what a fabulous title, what a mental image that conjures up and what hyperbole, because it's not the earth but one small village in England. But this is how I like my sci fi, man's first encounter with the unknown. We are not told where these robot invaders come from or why they are here. One day they appear as if from nowhere. A group of people staying at a hotel have somehow escaped being mysteriously killed and they don't know what's happening. One of the women sees a robot from behind and, thinking it's a man, approaches it to ask for help. It turns round she sees a cold, dead, electronic face made up of resistors and wires. Wouldn't your heart just burst if that happened to you? I find there is something about old electronics that is far more scarey than todays. Valves, or tubes as the Americans call them, would heat up and glow red and they looked as if they were throbbing with power. With old electronics there was always a disconcerting whine, hum, howl or buzz, cold snowy interference and wavy oscilloscope lines, so creepy. The robots make a buzzing sound as they move about, slowly but soullessly menacing, inexorable. Those they capture they turn into zombies with white, dead eyes. The scene where a woman hides in a cupboard while the robots and zombies are in the room looking for her will have you biting your nails down to the elbows.
There's bags of atmosphere in this movie, the sense of isolation and helplessness of the group is palpable, the uncertainty of when the robots will appear again, where are they now, what are they planning?
I know we are all different and there are those who will not see what I do in this film, but for me this is one of the best. I find it so deliciously scarey. It's an old 1960s black and white B picture, but what a diamond it is.
"Chosen Survivors?" - Oh that's included too is it?
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 October 2011
Chosen Survivors

The Batty Bomb Shelter.

Chosen Survivors is directed by Sutton Roley and written by H.B. Cross. It stars Jackie Cooper, Alex Cord, Richard Jaeckel, Bradford Dillman, Barbara Babcock, Diana Muldaur and Lincoln Kilpatrick. Music is by Fred Karlin and cinematography by Gabriel Torres.

It's the eve of nuclear war and a government computer has selected a specialist group of people to live 1,758 feet underground in a nuclear proof, purpose built housing facility. The purpose is that these people can start to repopulate the Earth in five years time. However, something isn't quite right about this set-up and things take a distinctive turn for the worse when it's revealed that a colony of vampire bats have also made the facility their home.

It's far better than any plot synopsis suggests. True, it's very 70s, both in characters (clothing/delivery of dialogue/hair), and the effects used, but it also captures the zeitgeist of paranoia running at the time. Fear of nuclear war and the government hangs heavy, while the group dynamic under a stress situation makes for a tellingly oppressive mood. The whole thing has a bleakness about it, and that's before the vampire bats turn up hungry for what is apparently the only source of blood left available to them. The downbeat feel is further enforced by Karlin's music score, which often sounds like the synthesiser strains favoured by John Carpenter for some of his well revered culters. There's the expected bad turn of events with some of the characters, I mean it would be a dull film if everyone just got on all hunky dory, while there's a wicked twist that propels the narrative to another level of enjoyment for the viewer.

Competently acted by the cast, and effectively put together by Roley, Chosen Survivors is a neat horror/sci-fi hybrid. Not without some cheese and gaps in plotting for sure, but very effective and recommended on proviso you aren't looking to be cheered up! 7/10

The Earth Dies Screaming

Who ever did it has won!

The Earth Dies Screaming is directed by Terence Fisher and written by Henry Cross. It stars Willard Parker, Virginia Field, Dennis Price, Vanda Godsell, Thorley Walters, David Spenser and Anna Palk. Out of Shepperton Studios, London, cinematography is by Arthur Lavis and music scored by Elisabeth Lutyens.

A rural North of England village and suddenly cars start crashing, trains derail and people collapse in the street, just what the hell is happening? Is it a gas attack? Seven survivors, who each had a lucky reason to be out of the contaminated air, gather at the village inn and begin to learn the terrifying truth......

Running at just over an hour and with a shoestring budget, The Earth Dies Screaming is compact across the board. In spite of a pretty unadventurous script from Henry Cross, Hammer Studios best director, Terry Fisher, manages to keep the pace steady whilst injecting some genuine moments of tension. The peaceful setting (real location the village of Shere, Surrey) is perfect for what the story has to offer, a sense of dread comes off in the atmosphere as the realisation dawns that no matter how serene or tranquil the surroundings are, evil can strike anywhere. Lavis' black and white photography is crisp and high contrast, while Lutyens score sounds like a metal synth rhythm at times, which is perfectly in keeping with the nature of the plot. Of the cast it's perhaps unsurprisingly Price who shines the brightest playing a defeatist weasel type of gentleman.

The title of the film is a bit of a bum steer, and the characterisations are too stereotypical, but there are pleasures to be had, most notably the mood created and a couple of bona fide great scenes. 6.5/10
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on 1 March 2010
The Earth Dies Screaming starts as something of a misnomer: budget limitations mean we only see the disaster's main effects within a very localised area of Northern England. As for the screaming, there's no human sound heard until 8 minutes into the film. Like many of the small cycle of English invasion films made at this time, Fisher's is small scale, almost domestic in setting, implying a catastrophe at a personal level just as much as on a national one. In contrast to those produced in America, English invasion movies were often less grandiose and paranoid, relying more on alien intrusions into more realistic, even humdrum worlds, places where the ordinary is ever present. Like the cult Devil Girl from Mars (1954) substantial scenes of TEDS take place in the comforting atmosphere of a pub or nearby where, it seems, British folk naturally congregate for comfort and safety: think of Shaun of the Dead's last refuge

Director Fisher is most known for the series of Gothic horrors which have most occupied critical attention. His SF work has been readily dismissed as a genre in which he had little interest. TEDS was the first of a trilogy for the appositely named Planet Productions company, the others being Night of the Big Heat (1966) and Island of Terror (1967). All three feature alien invasion and a small group of people trying to fend off the intruders. Negative responses to these works perhaps stem from the fact that, often, the people are more interesting than the monsters and junk science on display, and the films lack the vibrancy of his horror work.

At the heart of TEDS are three relationships: that between Quinn Taggart (a splendidly caddish Dennis Price) and Peggy (Virgina Field); the often drunk Otis (Thorley Walters) and his party friend Violet (Vanda Godsell), as well as the young couple Mel (David Spenser) with the pregnant Lorna (Anna Palk). Independent of this group is Jeff Nolan, played by the film's sole American actor. Producer Lippert had a successful formula of adding transatlantic appeal to films by stocking them with token imported talent. Here Willard Packer fits the bill. Packer is the man taking charge of events, organising the survivors, and figuring it out - right down to where the alien's transmitter can be found. He can be seen, in his mild way, as a typical 'Quatermass' figure: a technically competent individual taking charge to protect British society from intrusion. While no pure scientist, Nolan still has enough know-how to quickly grasp what has happened, how the invasion can be thwarted and to take decisive action. By the end of the film, he wins the right to a relationship of his own.

Critics such as Peter Hutchings in 'We're All Martians Now' (British Science Fiction Cinema (Routledge, 1999)) have identified such influential figures as typically being a 'boffin-like protector of a society which seems incapable of protecting itself'. At the same time, through the imported novelty of his presence, Nolan is a reminder of British insularity. At time many of these films appeared British society was still relatively isolated, but under pressure from new pressures and changes, both international and local. Only the cynical Taggart has a competing world-view in the film that's as strong as Nolan's. For Taggart the new global conflict is over. Worse, "whoever did it has won... its every man for himself" - fatalistic sentiments in stark contrast to the famous spirit of the blitz, striking to many of those watching then. The punishment for his criminality and selfishness will be the loss of his tenuous relationship with Peggy and, ultimately his humanity, part of the alien zombie army.

The biggest social change in Fisher's film is obvious - a successful first strike against British society, together with silver-clad aliens walking the streets, zombie workforce in support. Blank-eyed and as slow-moving as their masters, these zombies are among the most effective elements in the film. They must have been rather a novelty to contemporary audiences. I can't, off-hand, think of an earlier representation of the creatures in British cinema before this (Hammer's Plague of the Zombies appeared two years later, but even so is set in the past). They provide one of the highlights of the film - a scene when Peggy is pursued, then trapped breathlessly in a bedroom closet, when Fisher makes use of a very dramatic close up to add terror.

In contrast to the unsuccessful efforts of the un-dead to find a female, Nolan succeeds in gradually establishing a relationship and, one presumes, goes on to a successful romance. His success against the invader acts as a catalyst. By the end of the film he is entitled to reintegrate back in society. There's a parallel to be found between the zombie's painfully slow pursuit search and unnerving, soulless staring at the closet in which Peggy hides to another scene where Nolan had looked on, affectionately, as she pottered over small things in the pub's kitchen. The difference between humanity and the alien, the film suggests, is that the former can bring value and sentiment to what it sees and so, once again, the British invasion variant gravitates naturally to the domestic.

TEDS is further helped by a very effective score by Elizabeth Lutyens, as well as some crisp, atmospheric cinematography by Arthur Lavis, especially effective when shooting on village location. These are elements that help to make it my favourite out of Fisher's small group of SF movies, a feeling which even the over-acting of Walters can't dissipate. It `s also blessed with a dramatic pre-title sequence - a world wrecked by sudden accident, recalling the night before Day of the Triffids, as well as an eerie sense of a familiar landscape made empty, a horror-fantasy tradition which persists right down to such British films as 28 Days Later. Fisher's film may be short, cheap, and with a disappointingly flat denouement, but its modest pleasures easily invite revival.
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on 26 August 2008
"The Earth Dies Screaming" has already been excellently reviewed by others here. It is loaded with atmosphere made even more effective by the use of the black and white photography within the setting of a quintessentially English village. My favourite of all the science fiction movies I have seen so far. And I've seen a lot!

"Chosen Survivors" I had never heard of before and only have seen now because of purchasing this double bill DVD for "The Earth Dies Screaming". And so glad to have discovered what is a most worthwhile addition to the list of good sci-fi/thriller movies. It has a very effective and rather compellingly intriguing musical score, which I found most enjoyable to listen to in its own right. Also on the menu section of the dvd too.

The story itself seemed like a deep underground version of Big Brother, with the group of people holed up together for a number of weeks.
There were some scenes that looked like possible real-life cruelty, or at least distressing situations, for bats, which I didn't feel very happy about, especially as there was no disclaimer in the credits stating that none had been harmed in the making of the film, but I guess in older movies they didn't have to say that, but I see the bats were credited with having a 'trainer', so hopefully were looked after. - As I'd like to think the birds and fish were too. Hopefully none of the non-human members of the cast came to any harm. (I happen to care about these thing!).

Everyone involved played their parts excellently and the colour effects were utilised very effectively too. The story itself was all too plausable, given the untrustworthiness of many aspects of government. The movie kept my interest throughout and never became boring. Sadly often a rarity.
A well-discovered gem!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 October 2011
I thought I had wriiten a review of this DVD but it must have been in my head only. Where to start. First, this is another good release from Midnite Movies, at a great price, good quality prints, and 2 hard to find films (Well EDS was hard til the very expensive solo release earlier this year which I have not seen). I got this because of EDS, and I wasn't disapointed, (what a title, if a bit innappropriate!). This is short - 62' app and it just works, for me anyway, and obviously for others too. Tha acting is no great shakes, but you don't really expect it to be do you, but everyone works hard, Willard Parker and Virginia Field being the American "talent" and you can see Dennis Price in a completely straight role (most unusual). I wish I had a greater grasp of words, but all I can really say is that this a must have for lovers of vintage 50's 60's english sci fi films. Sadly I can't be as enthusiastic for CHOSEN SURVIVORS - This has a good "Telefilm" type cast (Alex Cord wooden, Bradford Dillman jury still out, Richard Jaekel very good, Jackie Cooper who steals it, and a completely wasted Diana Muldauer in a terribly underwritten role. And that's the problem for me. The script is just not good. No character development and little explanation, of anything really. There are some good moments, but some of it is a bit dull. A pity. However, the print is good, it is a bit unusual and the actors do their best. And I have told you nothing of the plots. Sorry - the other reviews are helpful on that score tho. Well done Midnite Movies. 4 stars only cos I didn't really like "Chosen S." much. 5 stars mentally for the chance to see these films in such a good condition.
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on 26 August 2011
I am really glad that these Midnite Movie double feature DVDs continue to come out - the selections of films is odd but always interesting.

Here we have Chosen Survivors and The Earth Dies Screaming, which share absolutely nothing in common so I have no idea why they have been paired together. Chosen Survivors is a 1970's release which tells of a bunch of people rounded up and locked into an underground vault as the only "chosen survivors" of a life-destroying holocaust. They do not know why or how they got chosen, so the films charts their reactions to being incarcerated, and of course something goes wrong, so the film gradually unfolds and shows their ultimate fate. It resembles a polished TV movie, and does not have any great setpieces, although there are some moments of tension during an escape attempt when a character tries to reach the surface, so although I enjoyed it I wouldn't say it was an essential purchase by itself.

Weirder still is The Earth Dies Screaming, the title of which vastly over-hypes the content of the movie to say the least! The Earth does not die, what happens involves a cast of about 6 people, all set in an abandoned English village where life seems to have been wiped out for some reason (ah, maybe thats the link between the films!). The survivors try and work out what has happened, and when they encounter the menace responsible there are some fun scenes as they fight back. This movies is very short, filmed in black & white and with almost a zero budget, and yet it does have a few scenes that pack a punch. The scenes involve some characters dying and then returning to life, which is actually presented in a very creepy fashion and quite well done for a film of this vintage (1965). The opening few minutes also work very well: we see the beginnings of the wipe-out, as people going about their daily business start dropping dead where they stand. This is also quite creepy. So all in all, although the big "reveal" about the power behind the deaths is pretty bad (terrible costumes!), the film is definitely worth a watch...more so than Chosen Survivors, I would say.

Wroth buying the pair at this low price, and I look forward to more double pack releases soon.
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on 23 May 2014
The earth dies screaming is a old sci fi classic,the chosen survivors is a bad 70s paranoid don't make sense film,worth buying just for earth dies screaming
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on 17 August 2015
Both two good double film features. Chosen Survivours people or what you could call living for a certain period of time in a closed environment ordered by the government. Misery, pain and suffering occurs, living together for the period of time. The Earth Dies Screaming, set in the beautiful English country side where a magnetic force field has taken over the villiage, survivours are left to defend for themselves, black and white film but good sound affects.
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on 25 January 2016
ony bought this for the earth dies screaming,a true classic british forgotten sci-fi film, very clean and clear print.good stroy line, and shows peoples true nature
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