Father Pergado (Christopher Lee) stumbles into an empty diner late one night and confronts the manager, obviously close to delirium but aware enough to ask to use the telephone. The manager is alarmed, and grows even more so when the phone explodes off the wall, and the coffee urn does the same, showering him with boiling water and sending him careering out of the window in a blaze of sparks caused by the neon sign going up in flames. The priest is at a loss of what to do next, wandering outside to be greeted by - himself. His own double takes him out into the darkness, back to the church...
After that arresting opening, your hopes might have been high for End of the World, but then you see the credits and realise this was one of the low budget would-be chillers or science fiction flicks from Charles Band. Say what you like about the Band family, they definitely persevered in the movie business, even if their product was little loved in the long run - and in the short run, for that matter. Here it was the familiar tale of past their prime stars getting to act out a concept that might have seemed old hat in the fifties.
That concept being our old friend, the Earth in peril from aliens of outer space, although you don't cotton onto this aspect of the film for at least the first half of it. Christopher Lee, no stranger to this kind of thing, may be top billed, but he barely appears until almost an hour in, and this is a pretty short movie at under ninety minutes, so you may be wondering where our celebrity sparkle is going to come from until then. Step forward Kirk Scott! Ah, now you're impressed - what do you mean, "Who?" Well, he's the chap in the real lead role, a professor who has been picking up strange cosmic signals in his place of work.
All right, if Mr Scott does not impress you, then how about the actress playing his wife, Sue Lyon, Lolita all grown up and reaching the end of her screen career in forgotten piffle like this? These two go on an alien hunt, tracking the signals to a convent in the middle of nowhere, but not before the professor has noted the increasing incidence of natural disasters. Not that we see any of them, we just hear about them over the radio, thus saving all that stock footage for the grand finale. I'm not one hundred percent sure what the professor's workload entails, but there is a shot of an actual Space Shuttle at one point.
Not that it matters hugely, it's enough to know that it's scientific and he is knowledgeable in the field of intergalactic signals to know what he is talking about. There could have been an exciting race against time here, with the professor and his wife rushing to prevent the aliens carrying out the threat of the title, but mostly the pace drags, the story plods, and the actors look as if they'd rather be somewhere else. Turns out that the aliens are looking to return home, as the Christopher Lee doppelganger helpfully informs the professor, but they need a special component for the teleportation device that only he can secure for them - or else his missus gets it. Of course, there's more to their plans than that, and if nothing else you can't deny this film lived up to its name (did Douglas Adams see this?). At least there wouldn't be a sequel. Music by Andrew Belling.