A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema

By Charles P. Mitchell | Go to book overview

The Day the Sky Exploded (1958/61)

AKA La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio (Death Comes from Outer Space)

Rating: ** Threat: Meteor collision

Excelsior. Written by Marcello Coscia & Alessandro Continenzia based on a story by Virgilio Sabel; Photographed by Mario Bava; Special effects by Mario Bava, Venanzio Biraschi & Oscar Arcangelis; Edited by Otello Colangeli; Music by Carlo Rustichelli; Produced by Guido Giambartolomei & Samuel Z. Arkoff (executive); Directed by Paolo Heusch. B & W, English-language version, 80 minutes; European version, 82 minutes.


ANNOTATED CAST LIST

Paul Hubschmid (John McLaren, American scientist and astronaut); Fiorella Man (Mary McLaren, his wife); Massimo Zepperi (Dennis McLaren, their son); Madeleine Fischer (Katy Dandridge, British mathematician); Ivo Garrani (Herbert Weisser, professor in charge of the Space project); Dario Michaelis (Pierre Leducq, French scientist); Jean-Jacques Delbo (Sergei Boetnikov, leading Russian scientist); Sam Galter (Randowsky, Russian scientist and astronaut); Peter Meersman (General Van Dorf, military advisor); Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (Stewart, British scientist and astronaut); Anne Berval (lab assistant).


SYNOPSIS

Apart from the controversial truncated epic, End of the World (1931/35), which had limited distribution, this Italian/French co-production is the earliest in a long line of “celestial collision” apocalyptic films that includes A Fire in the Sky (telefilm, 1978), Meteor (1979), Asteroid (TV mini-series, 1997), Meteorites (telefilm, 1998), Deep Impact (1998) and Armageddon (1998). Unfortunately, the film's budget was so small that it was unable to adequately portray the scope and impact of the story. The script tried to overcome this by concentrating on a small group of characters, scientists on a space project who both propagated the crisis and resolved it. This film only merits serious consideration because of its uncanny foresight.

The story opens with a montage of newspaper headlines from around the world proclaiming the launch of the first manned space flight, which will circumnavigate the moon. A group of international scientists is overseeing the project, based at Cape Shark in Australia. John McLaren, an American scientist, is selected to serve as pilot for the mission over the other two candidates, Stewart from England and Randowsky from Russia. After the successful rocket launch, Professor Weisser leads a celebration at the launch complex and presents Sergei

-40-

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A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Overview: Cinematic Visions of the Apocalypse xi
  • A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema: Fifty Films in Depth 1
  • The 27th Day (1957) 3
  • Armageddon (1998) 10
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) 17
  • Crack in the World (1965) 22
  • The Dawn of the Dead (1978) 27
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) 33
  • The Day the Sky Exploded (1958/61) 40
  • Day the World Ended (1956) 44
  • Deep Impact (1998) 48
  • Deluge (1933) 54
  • Doomsday Machine (1967/72) 59
  • Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 63
  • The End of the World (1930/34) 70
  • Five (1951) 74
  • Holocaust 2000 (1978) 78
  • The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) 83
  • Kronos (1957) 88
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) 93
  • The Last War (1961) 98
  • The Last Wave (1977) 103
  • The Last Woman on Earth (1960) 108
  • Lifeforce (1985) 112
  • The Lost Missile (1958) 117
  • The Magnetic Monster (1953) 122
  • The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) 127
  • Mars Attacks! (1996) 133
  • Meteor (1979) 139
  • Moonraker (1979) 145
  • The Night the World Exploded (1957) 152
  • Noah's Ark (1929) 157
  • No Blade of Grass (1970) 162
  • No Survivors Please (1964) 168
  • One Night Stand (1984) 172
  • On the Beach (1959) 177
  • Quiet Earth (1985) 184
  • Robot Monster (1953) 189
  • Runestone (1991) 194
  • The Satan Bug (1965) 199
  • The Seventh Sign (1988) 205
  • Solar Crisis (1990) 210
  • Star Trek—the Motion Picture (1978) 214
  • Target Earth (1953) 221
  • Them! (1954) 226
  • Virus (1980) 231
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) 238
  • The War of the Worlds (1953) 243
  • When Worlds Collide (1951) 249
  • Where Have All the People Gone? (1974) 255
  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) 259
  • Zarkorr the Invader (1996) 265
  • Appendices 269
  • Appendix A 271
  • Appendix B 279
  • Appendix C 283
  • Index 285
  • About the Author 311
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