Day the World Ended (Roger Corman / U.S., 1955):

"Our story begins with... THE END!" Stock footage of nuclear blasts announces the apocalypse, Cadillac and burro follow the burnt trail to a Frank Lloyd Wright lounge in a terse little sequence that has consequences for Losey (The Damned). The survivors gather in the living room, comedy/tragedy masks prominently featured on the wall: A sea captain with Noah delusions (Paul Birch), his daughter (Lori Nelson), a geologist (Richard Denning), a gangland gel-head (Mike "Touch" Connors) and his stripper moll (Adele Jergens), a prospector (Raymond Hatton) and a radium-fried dope (Paul Dubov). The devastation of Nature is illustrated with childlike line drawings of mutated mice and dogs, then made flesh (and rubber) via the triclops prowling outside, a gorilla-sized gremlin with floppy horns and woeful eyes. Poisoned meat and acid rain, "there’s no such thing as logic anymore." And yet, Dubov assures us, there are "exciting things" happening now, you just have to leave the house and reach beyond the hills. Roger Corman sketches it lucidly as noir chamber piece and Old Testament parable, insistently scored to radio static, Geiger counter squeaks, and the echoing sax notes to which Jergens showcases her art. An angry work and a humanistic one, with the specter of the Second World War arising from its shoestring Guernica effects in tandem with the necessity "to want to live again." The last image is from Lang’s Der Müde Tod, expanded in Kurosawa’s "The Weeping Demon" (Dreams). With Jonathan Haze and Paul Blaisdell. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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