It's The End Of The
World As We Know It
Hello and welcome to the thirteenth Spinning Image Newsletter, where
we're celebrating an important anniversary. Yes, remember when the world
ended? It was twenty years ago this month - hard to believe, isn't it?
Total nuclear annihilation, not even the cockroaches survived! Ah, those
were the days... But before we get too nostalgic, let's get the business
out of the way first.
WHEN YOU HEAR THE AIR ATTACK WARNING YOU
AND YOUR FAMILY MUST TAKE COVER
Sobering isn't it? Chilling even. The end of the world must be the single
most calamitous event in our history... and therefore great subject matter
for popular entertainment! So how have the movies responded? Let's take
a look at humanity's chances for survival.
- La Fin du Monde (1931)
Abel Gance comes up with disaster on a Biblical scale - tempest, flood
Hope for Humanity: We must repent!
- When Worlds Collide (1951)
There's a biiiig planet heading this way - let's get the flip outta
Hope for Humanity: Luckily there's another, habitable planet in
range of our spaceships.
- The Day the World Ended (1956)
The apocalypse has already happened, and the world is still here. Yeah,
sure, there's a mutant hanging around to terrorise the handful of survivors,
but the world isn't destroyed outright.
Hope for Humanity: Where there's life, there's hope.
- On the Beach (1959)
This is more like it. Survivors of nuclear war gather in Australia and
wait for the inevitable fallout to arrive and wipe them out.
Hope for Humanity: Nope, sorry, this is the end for us.
- The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
Nuclear tests have shifted the world on its axis and we're headed for
Hope for Humanity: Difficult to tell. They try to fix the damage,
anyway. Does it work? Search me.
- Day of the Triffids (1963)
Man eating plants stalk (geddit?) the survivors of a mass outbreak of
Hope for Humanity: Sunny, if you care to take the Triffids on a
trip to the seaside.
- Dr Strangelove (1964)
They're in charge. You know, the governments. The military. And what
do they do? Accidentally start World War Three. Cheers.
Hope for Humanity: None, but you have to laugh, eh?
- Fail Safe (1964)
They're in charge. You know, the governments. The military. And what
do they - here, this sounds familiar.
Hope for Humanity: It's tough, but total wipe-out is averted at
- The Last Man on Earth (1964)
A virus has turned everyone into vampires. Except for Vincent Price!
It's one man against the undead hordes.
Hope for Humanity: Not looking good, but for vampires the outlook
couldn't be better.
- The Bedford Incident (1965)
This oneupmanship is going too far. American warship versus Soviet submarine
in a game of cat and mouse that is taken to extremes.
Hope for Humanity: You see? Your stupid minds! Fire!
- Crack in the World (1965)
Scientists create a big split in the Earth's crust and our planet will
be torn in two!
Hope for Humanity: There had better be, or transatlantic travel
is going to be tricky.
- The Bed Sitting Room (1969)
The apocalypse has happened, and the survivors wander the rubble, occasionally
turning into stuff like a parrot, a cupboard or a bed sitting room.
Hope for Humanity: You never know, you might turn into something
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
The world is ruled by Apes on the surface, and billion megaton bomb-worshipping
Hope for Humanity: It's all depends on Charlton Heston. What do
you say, Chuck? Oh. Oh dear.
- The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Alien virus arrives on a crashed satellite. Experts have twenty four
hours to neutralise it.
Hope for Humanity: This time we're saved. Next time, maybe not so
- The Omega Man (1971)
Charlton Heston plays Vincent Price battling the mutants as the last
man on Earth.
Hope for Humanity: Erm, well, he's not the last man on Earth, so
yeah, we should be OK.
- The Final Programme (1973)
Humankind is winding down, so as a last gasp, the scientists get together
to take us to a new level.
Hope for Humanity: We're going to need a hell of a lot of disposable
razors and Humphrey Bogart movies. And that's just for starters.
- Chosen Survivors (1974)
The World is destroyed in an all-out nuclear attack, and the, er, chosen
survivors are trapped underground with only killer bats for company.
Hope for Humanity: Don't worry, they were only joking.
- The Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974)
The great prophet arrives in Japan to tell us of the imminent apocalypse,
which does indeed occur.
Hope for Humanity: Hm, depends on how much faith you have in Nostradamus.
He was making it all up, wasn't he?
- The End of the World (1977)
It's those darned aliens again, and they've set up a conspiracy to finish
us off for good.
Hope for Humanity: Let's just say the movie lives up to its name.
- Holocaust 2000 (1977)
You're Kirk Douglas and your son is the Antichrist. Yeah, Michael looked
a little too good to be true, didn't he? Oh, wait, it's not him, it's
the head of a nuclear power plant.
Hope for Humanity: Hey, we've got Kirk to save us - he wouldn't
let anything beat his ego into submission, would he?
- The Last Wave (1977)
Aboriginal legend tells of a watery apocalypse that lawyer Richard Chamberlain
is just beginning to wake up to.
Hope for Humanity: Well, swimming lessons would be a start.
- Virus (1980)
You're looking very pale. Are you feeling OK? No you're not, because
there's a killer virus that has wiped out everyone except the members
of an Antarctic research station!
Hope for Humanity: Take two paracetamol and call me in the morning.
- The Final Conflict (1981)
It's the Antichrist agin, but this time he's grown up since Omen parts
I and II, and turned into Sam Neill. Now he's bringing about Armageddon.
Hope for Humanity: Well, if he really did kill us all, there would
be no more sequels, would there?
- The Beyond (1981)
When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth. Which
is what happens here, zombies galore as Santa's hordes make their presents
felt, no, I mean, Satan's hordes make their presence felt.
Hope for Humanity: You expect a happy ending?
- WarGames (1983)
Uh-oh, someone's set off the computer that looks after America's nuclear
arsenal. It's teen hacker Matthew Broderick, and we're headed for Global
Hope for Humanity: Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of chess?
- Testament (1983)
They did it, they dropped the bomb, and now the ordinary folks have
to face slow, agonising death.
Hope for Humanity: Let's just say this isn't a comedy.
- Day of the Dead (1984)
Romero's Dead Trilogy draws to a close as the survivors of a military
unit bicker amongst themselves about dealing with the problem of peckish
Hope for Humanity: I dunno, shoot 'em in the head or something.
Let's have another instalment, George.
- Night of the Comet (1984)
Earth passes through tail of comet. Result: almost everyone is reduced
to powdered form, except for some baddies and two Valley Girls.
Hope for Humanity: Who cares? Shop till you drop!
- Offret (1986)
Yup, it's the Third World War again - how terribly eighties. This time
it's happening very slowly.
Hope for Humanity: Hey, man, we've just got to get in touch with
our spiritual side, man. Make some sacrifices.
- When the Wind Blows (1986)
Not the Third World War yet again?! How many times is this going to
happen? For this old couple, it looks like world events are passing
them by as they pass away.
Hope for Humanity: I ain't gonna lie to you, it's not looking good,
no matter where you live.
- Miracle Mile (1988)
Well is it happening or not? Mass panic when Anthony Edwards starts
a rumour that the missiles are on their way after a strange, late night
Hope for Humanity: Looks like we're going the way of the dinosaurs.
- The Rapture (1991)
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, sets off Judgement Day and Mimi Rogers
is happy to see him.
Hope for Humanity: What kind of God does that, then? Mimi's not
- The Prophecy (1995)
Christopher Walken is the Angel Gabriel, and he's trying to start the
Apocalypse by hunting down a special soul.
Hope for Humanity: Don't mind us, will, you? I mean, we just live
- Day of the Beast (1995)
What? More Armageddon? Three Spanish misfits try to prevent Satan wreaking
havoc on Earth.
Hope for Humanity: It's 50/50 with these guys on our side.
- Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Bruce Willis arrives from the future to prevent the virus that will
decimate humanity, but will he do more harm than good?
Hope for Humanity: What goes around comes around.
- Deep Impact (1998)
First of '98's killer asteroid movies, and there's a ginormous rock
headed straight for us.
Hope for Humanity: With this soap opera, you never know.
- Armageddon (1998)
Second of '98's killer asteroid movies, but this ginormous rock has
to face Bruce Willis.
Hope for Humanity: Hey, we've got the Boss on our side. Huh? Oh,
- Last Night (1998)
It's the last night of planet Earth, there's nothing we can do about
it, so just get used to it. Relax.
Hope for Humanity: Nice knowing you.
- End of Days (1999)
Only Ahnold can save us from Satan bringing about the Apocalypse at
the end of the Millennium. Has there ever been a film that dated quicker?
Hope for Humanity: He may get beaten up by Miriam Margoyles, but
Ahnold won't let us down.
- The Core (2003)
The Earth's core is about to, erm, spin in the wrong direction or something
(the details escape me), and a only boring machine will save us.
Hope for Humanity: The machine is quite interesting, really.
- Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines (2003)
It's about time, those computers from the future get their act together
and really put their collective electronic minds to destroying humanity.
Hope for Humanity: How important can John Connor be? I'm sure if
we all chip in we'll beat 'em. Let's have another sequel.
So, it seems as if we're pretty resilient, most of the time we don't
get completely wiped out at all. We're the new cockroaches.
NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
It's not just the movies that have tried to kill us
all off, television has made its own attempts on our lives. In the sixties,
The War Game was banned for beiong too controversial and had to be released
to selected cinemas - questions were asked in Parliament. In the seventies,
the world ended during The Goodies and Tim, Bill and Graeme made the best
of the situation. Then Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had planet Earth
blown to smithereens, and in The Martian Chronicles everyone was wiped out
except for the human settlers on Mars. The eighties was a prime era for
human extinction: in the UK, Threads gave us sleepless nights, and in
the USA, The Day After went for the soap opera style of killing us all.
During the nineties, it wasn't nuclear bombs but a deadly strain of the
common cold that destroyed civilisation in The Stand, and an asteroid
hit us in The Last Train. Mass destruction in your own home, eh? Cuh.
END OF THE WORLD LINKS
This site gives you the basics of the End Times, but the movie section
is just a big list. Who wants to read that? Ahem.
This one is a more Brit-o-centric version of nuclear paranoia, very informative.
Check out the Atomic Culture page.
Here's an essay on End of the World culture that makes the point that
the world very rarely ends absolutely in these things.
Lastly, a little quiz to test how you'd react to our ultimate demise.
REST IN PEACE
Veteran of stage and screen Sir Alan Bates died after a long battle with
cancer, aged 69, in December. He first gained attention as one of the
archetypal "angry young men" in John Osborne's play Look Back
in Anger, and took film roles soon after: The Entertainer (another Osborne
play), A Kind of Loving, Whistle Down the Wind (as the convict children
think is Jesus Christ) and The Caretaker. He continued to choose unusual,
distinctive projects throughout his career, including Georgy Girl, King
of Hearts, The Go-Between, Women in Love (with the famous nude wresting
sequence), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (a great performance), Royal
Flash, strange horror The Shout, An Unmarried Woman and Nijinsky. Recently
he appeared in Gosford Park, The Mothman Prophecies and Sum of All Fears.
Legendary British comedian Bob Monkhouse will be best remembered for
his televison work, but in film he was in the first Carry On movie, Carry
On Sergeant, the Dentist films, Dentist in the Chair and Dentist on the
Job, and The Bliss of Miss Blossom. He also provided voices for Thunderbirds
Are Go and was even in a film with Anna Karina (She'll Have To Go). He
died aged 75 in December.
Stage actor Dinsdale Landen appeared in a few films, including Rasputin
the Mad Monk, Digby the Biggest Dog in the World and Morons from Outer
Space, and also in TV series like The Avengers, Jason King and Doctor
Who. He died aged 71 at the end of December.
A big star in British films of the 1940s, Patricia Roc is best remembered
now for her role in the then-controversial cult favourite The Wicked Lady.
Other films included Millions Like Us, Madonna of the Seven Moons and
The Perfect Woman. She died aged 88 at the end of December.
Director Brian Gibson died aged 58 in January. After starting in television,
with the classic Dennis Potter play Blue Remembered Hills to his credit,
he moved into films with Breaking Glass, What's Love Got To Do With It
and Still Crazy.
Actress Ingrid Thulin gained fame in Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries,
and went on to appear in his other works, including The Silence, The Face,
Hour of the Wolf and Cries and Whispers. She also had roles in The Damned,
Short Night of the Glass Dolls, Salon Kitty and The Casandra Crossing.
She died aged 76 in January.
Anita Mui, successful singer and star of many of the best Hong Kong films
of the 80s and 90s, lost her battle with cancer at the end of December.
She was 40. Among her films were Rouge, A Better Tomorrow III, The Heroic
Trio and its sequel, Saviour of the Soul, Drunken Master II and Rumble
in the Bronx.
Ron O'Neal, who played one of the coolest characters in blaxploitation
movies, died of cancer aged 66 in January. Superfly made him a star, but
it was shortlived as the follow up, Super Fly TNT, flopped and he was
relegated to supporting roles for the rest of his career in films like
The Master Gunfighter,
A Force of One, When a Stranger Calls, Red Dawn
and Original Gangstas, which saw him united with his fellow seventies
Ann Miller, the musical star best known for her tremendous tap dancing,
died of lung cancer aged 80 in January. She gained fame in low budget
musicals in the forties with great titles like Reveille with Beverly,
What's Buzzin', Cousin? and Eve Knew Her Apples, but is probably most
celebrated for her roles in Easter Parade, On The Town and Kiss Me Kate.
At one point her legs were insured for a million dollars. She returned
to the big screen after decades away in 2001 with David Lynch's Mulholland
Rikki Fulton was a legendary comedian in Scotland, where his Scotch and
Wry show was a New Year's TV institution. On film, he appeared in the Bill
Forsyth comedies Local Hero (a personal favourite of mine - Ed) and
Comfort and Joy, and had an uncharacteristically
villainous role in Gorky Park. He died aged 79 in January.
Actress Frances Dee died in March aged 94. She will be best remembered
for starring in I Walked with a Zombie, which she said she appeared in
to afford a car, and as one of the Little Women in the thirties version
of the classic tale. She was happily married to star Joel McCrea for many
years, and had been the last surviving actress to be considered for the
role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.
Actor Spalding Gray, who became famous for his witty monologues in such
films as Swimming To Cambodia and Monster in a Box, was found dead in
a New York river in March, having been missing since January. He also
had roles in The Killing Fields, Beaches, King of the Hill, The Paper,
Diabolique and Kate and Leopold, and had been suffering from depression
for some time. He was 62.
Actor Paul Winfield died in March aged 62, having enjoyed a successful
career appearing in the likes of Sounder, Trouble Man, Damnation Alley,
Mike's Murder, The Terminator and Mars Attacks. He also played
Martin Luther King on television.
Robert Pastorelli was a supporting actor in Dances with Wolves, Striking
Distance, Eraser and the Get Shorty sequel Be Cool, but was probably best
known for his role in sitcom Murphy Brown. He also starred in the American
version of TV series Cracker. He died aged 49 of a suspected drugs overdose.
Mercedes McCambridge, who earned her place in movie history as the voice
of the demon in The Exorcist, died aged 86 in March. A talented stage
and radio actress, she won an Oscar for her film debut in All the King's
Men, and went onto appear in cult movies as diverse as Johnny Guitar (taking
part in a gunfight with Joan Crawford), Giant,
Orson Welles' Touch of
Evil, Suddenly Last Summer, Angel Baby, Jess Franco's Justine and The
Concorde: Airport 1979. Off screen, she battled alcoholism and was hit
with tragedy when her son murdered his family and killed himself.
Actress Jan Sterling was best known for her cynical roles, in particular the female lead
in Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole. She also appeared in Caged, Union Station, 1984,
Female on the Beach, early disaster movie The High and the Mighty, and cult classic
High School Confidential. She died aged 82 in March.
Famed raconteur Sir Peter Ustinov died aged 82 in March, after a career in film,
books and television, as well as charity work as an ambassador for Unicef. He directed
Vice Versa and Billy Budd, won Oscars for his roles in Spartacus and Topkapi, and also
appeared in Quo Vadis, Lola Montes, Logan's Run,
Death on the Nile (as Hercule Poirot),
The Last Remake of Beau Geste and Lorenzo's Oil.
New reviews on the site include:
Dawn of the Dead
Osterman Weekend, The
Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon
Fist of the North Star
Shaun of the Dead
Some Kind Of Wonderful
Horrors of the Black Museum
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Deadlier than the Male
The Terror of Tiny Town
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Army of Darkness
Carry On at your Convenience
The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Brute Man
House of 1000 Corpses
Tiger on the Beat
Carry On up the Khyber
Who Done It?
Girl on a Motorcycle
Full Metal Yakuza
IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD
Hey. We're still here. We're alive! Ahahahahaa! What a relief, eh? I
thought we were goners for sure. Life goes on, and so does The
Spinning Image, so if you have anything to say, let us know. Use the
forum. Keep in touch. We're all in this together. Um... what does this