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The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • A crack test pilot lands to find the planet has been devastated by some unknown forces. There are a few survivors, so he organizes them in a plan to ward off control by a group of killer robots.

  • The UK is invaded by alien-controlled robots, which re-animate dead human bodies. Survivors of the invasion are besieged by the walking corpses of slain friends and neighbors.....

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Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • A steam train rushes through the countryside a dead engineer in the cabin. It finally reaches a bend in the tracks and because of excessive speed, crashes. A car, the driver slumped over the wheel crashes into a wall. Finally a plane, the pilot unresponsive, crashes into trees. Everywhere people are collapsing dead. At the train station, on a golf course, everywhere they are dead.

    A single vehicle appears, the driver Jeff Nolan (Willard Parker) is alive but uncertain whats happened. He stops in a village and picks up a shortwave radio before checking on a couple people lying in the street to confirm they are dead.

    Grabbing his gun he takes over a local hotel. He tests his shortwave radio then the TV at the bar, there are now signals he can detect except for some strange rhythmic static. Preoccupied with the radio, Nolan doesnt see, Quinn Taggart (Dennis Price) carrying a gun and his wife Peggy (Virginia Field) enter the hotel. They demand to know who he is and any identification he may have.

    Taggart relaxes when he discovers Nolan is American which he assumes means he is not an enemy or the cause of the disaster. Taggart explains the situation is the same all over the South everyone is dead. Nolan tests military aircraft, he was on a routine flight with a new experimental craft. When he went up, everything was normal, but when he returned, everyone was dead.

    Taggart goes to check the surroundings of the hotel, and Peggy confides they are not married. Taggart recommended she tell this story if they encountered anyone. She doesnt have any other details to add because she was in an oxygen tent at hospital and only left when she couldnt contact any staff

    Taggart returns and explains his theory that the current circumstances were no accident, but the start of a war. It is only a matter of time before who ever won the war comes in to take over the country and seek out and kill survivors like themselves. Later Nolan notices a wrecked car that is now empty. A voice calls him from across the town square and it is Edgar Otis (Thorley Walters) who Nolan recognizes as one of the victims. Otis then introduces his wife Violet Cortland () who is heavily pregnant and her husband Mel (David Spenser)

    Mel and Lornas were on their way to Lornas Mothers house in Liverpool. They had left London the day before without any money. As night fell the found and broke into a bomb shelter and spent the night inside. Next morning they found everyone dead. Nolan explains what has happened in the village and the danger the suited figures represent

    Nolan feels they need more weapons especially if the aliens return. Otis believes there might be some guns in a civil defense hall on the East side of the village. They decide to go as a group and investigate the building. Taggart has not told anyone his story of survival, the mystery deepens when they find the building locked in chains and he picks the locks with ease. Searching the building reveals little other than a small cache of handguns and ammunition. That night back at the hotel Nolan finds Otis drunk instead of getting ready to stand guard. Since the death of his wife Otis has become increasingly despondent. Nolan explains that since the attack, Otis has become more valuable than he realizes. This seems to improve Otis spirits and he agrees to go out and take his turn standing guard. Having been relieved by Otis, Mel comes in carrying a box of bank notes he took from the local bank. He talks of the futility of money and how hes changed. Three days ago he would have killed for the amount of money in the box, now it simply doesnt matter. Lorna seems put out and a little frightened by Mels outburst. With everyone asleep, Lorna becomes restless and goes to the kitchen for a glass of milk. Nolan patrolling outside sees one of the aliens approach the kitchen and observe Lorna. It seems to have no interest in the girl other than to observe and moves away ignoring the rest and Nolan.

    After the incident, Taggart wakes and begins gathering his clothes and food as though preparing to leave. Unknown to everyone Violet has come alive again in one of the upstairs bedroom and begins moving through the house. Taggart sees her and shoots twice, seeming to kill her. Everyone is puzzled by the event, Violet seemed completely normal except for her eyes which have been replaced two grey protruding blobs.

    Nolan decides to relocate everyone to the army store, wait till dawn, and then the group will head south and away from the village. Taggart is not happy with the plan and pistol whips Nolan when they are alone. He then finds Peggy and tells her the others are going south, but they will be going north. He forces Peggy at gunpoint to his car and they leave.

    Mel comes out to take his turn as guard and finds Nolan hurt and gets him back inside.

    Peggy complains about being cold and Taggart agrees to stop at the hotel to get her some warmer clothes. While he is inside she take the opportunity to escape. Taggart reemerges and sees Peggy gone. He also sees two aliens approaching his car. Taggart makes a snap decision to drive north out of the village leaving Peggy to fend for herself.

    Back at the army hall, Nolan thinks Taggart has probably gone back to the hotel with Peggy before leaving town. If he is not back in 30 minutes, the remaining members of the group are to leave without him

    At the Hotel, Peggy sees one of the aliens enter, she retreats upstairs and becomes horrified to see a number of villages reanimated and searching for her. One of the villages enters the room Pegy is hiding in but does not realize Peggy is in a closet and leaves without detecting her. Peggy sees an opportunity to escape, however as she leaves the hotel she is cornered by an alien and a number of villages. Nolan arrives realizes the danger and runs the alien down then shoots the two villages. Nolan pauses to inspect the body of the alien and from the damage done, it is apparent the alien is actually a robot and not a living being. Peggy then tells him Taggart is gone, heading north by car.

    Returning to the hall, Nolan finds Lorna has gone into labor. He instructs Otis and Mel to go back into town to collect anything that Lorna might need to care for the baby. Eventually Lorna gives birth to a daughter and both appear healthy.

    Nolan begins organizing to get out of the village. Peggy warns him that Lorna may need some extra recovery time, adding to Nolans problems he finds Otis too drunk to stand up.

    Running out of options he asks Mel to listen to the radio static and then explains he thinks it is some form of homing beacon used to direct the robots. Mel understands if the transmitter can be destroyed they can disable the robots. Nolan puts together a rudimentary direction finder and heads out to find the transmitter. Nolan takes a series of readings and discovers the robots using an old military repeater station.

    Back at the army shed, Taggart, now controlled by the robots, arrives and leads the robots inside. Peggy calls Nolan on the radio and tells him whats happening. With a greater sense of urgency Nolan rigs the explosives and blows the transmitter stopping the robots in their tracks.

    Otis recovers from his drunken stupor long enough to see Taggart is still moving and shoots him Nolan and Mel arrive back at the shed.

    They have a new evacuation plan. Nolan will take a plane from the local airport and fly south. Hopefully if there are any other survivors they will see the plane and begin moving to the south of the country.

    Chapman_glen@yahoo.com

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