Plot: Dr. Jennifer Stillman (Nastassja Kinski) used to have a hectic life in New York, but now she plans to have more time to relax, since she’s moved to a rural Nevada town, Sierra Vista. She was a successful therapist back in New York, but in her new hometown, her work is at an elementary school, where she deals with the students’ problems. When she arrives, it seems as though the town could do without her, as she is given the collective cold shoulder from the start, though she is unsure why it happens. At first she thinks it is because she’s from the big city, but it soon becomes clear to her that something darker is involved. The more she digs around, the more she becomes convinced that the town holds some kind of secret, one which they seem to be willing to protect, no matter what the cost. She befriends a gifted, but troubled student named Ben (Bobby Edner), who lost his mother and claims that an alien is his father. This sends Stillman into an investigation into some unusual events, which make her almost think the child’s stories about an alien could be true, even though she knows how crazy that sounds…

Entertainment Value: This was part of Stan Winston’s Creature Features series, which crafted new visions of classic, old school b movies, in this case 1956’s The Day the World Ended. This movie has threads that connect to the original, but is less a remake and more of an alternate take on the material, so even if you dislike remakes, this one isn’t likely to offend on those grounds. I found this to be well made, but the movie fails to capture the kind of b movie, camp fueled fun that the series seems to aspire to, delivering a capable, but overly serious experience. I don’t mind a more serious take, but here is borders on pretension at times and maintains that serious tone throughout, with minimal comic relief or even bursts of b movie fun. A lot of references to other movies and genre related television shows sneak in, but they’re not played with a wink, so those moments feel a little off. A slow pace and emphasis on scenes that come off as filler don’t help things and overall, I think The Day the World Ended just fails to either go for broke with the darker narrative or let loose and embrace the b movie roots. The alien effects are passable, but not enough to compensate for the lacking areas. In any case, the movie is hard to recommend, as it just isn’t that good or fun to watch.

The movie has a better than average cast involved, with Natassja Kinski given the lead and she does what she can here. The material is so dull at times, she struggles to do much beyond exude her usual charm and while that is something at least, it isn’t enough to maintain interest. The blame is on the script however, as Kinski puts in work and tries to make the best of the material, but she comes off as restrained since that is what the writers seemed to want. I think she could have brought a lot more to the table if the material was more flexible and made use of her talents, but as it stands, her turn is fine, but not memorable. I also think the movie could have been much more fun if Randy Quaid were turned loose, as his kind of manic energy can work wonders, but again, he is held back by the material. Just giving Quaid some wild moments would have spruced up the movie, but he is dead serious and turns in a solemn, mostly forgettable effort, which is a real shame. The cast also includes Stephen Tobolowsky, Bobby Edner, Kathryn Fiore, and Brian Steele.

Use this Amazon link to purchase The Day the World Ended (or anything else) and help support my site!