Plot: What’s it about?
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…
As part of the new Creature Features series, this movie takes the name of an old American International picture, then puts a new spin on things. So while some elements are similar to the 1956 edition, this updated take on The Day the World Ended has a new storyline, so don’t expect a traditional remake. I found this film to be a mixed bag, as it has some good moments, but not enough to sustain the audience’s attention throughout. The premise is solid, the atmosphere is tense, and some good performances can be seen, but it seems as though something is missing from The Day the World Ended. In the end, I think it just takes itself too seriously and fails to play up to its B movie roots, which cramps the overall entertainment value involved. If director Terence Gross could have injected more humor and fun into his picture, then it might have been a hoot to watch, but it just comes off as too serious instead. Still, the first half hour has some top notch atmosphere, the death scenes rock, and the creature is fun to watch, so I still had some fun here. I recommend this as a rental to first timers, though fans shouldn’t hesitate to snatch up this disc.
This is by no means her finest work, but even so, Nastassja Kinski manages to turn in a solid, effective performance. I mean, she isn’t going to win over any new fans here, but given the material involved, she holds up well enough. You can’t really expect too much from Kinski here, as she has less than inspired material to work with, but she does make the best of things and delivers a more than acceptable effort. I’m glad to see her back in the realm of sci/fi & horror of course, but I hope her next genre film will have some stronger basics, so she can shine. Other films with Kinski include Cat People, Terminal Velocity, Susan’s Plan, Red Letters, Your Friends & Neighbors, The Claim, and One Night Stand. The cast also includes Randy Quaid (Vacation, Hard Rain), Bobby Edner (Late Last Night, The Muse), Harry Groener (Patch Adams, Road to Perdition), and Stephen Tobolowsky (Memento, The Insider).
Video: How does it look?
The Day the World Ended is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame edition also included on this dual layered disc. As with the other Creature Features releases, this one looks terrific and thanks to some creative visuals, the material shines and this is one knockout presentation. It all starts with a clean source print, free from grain, debris, and marks, an almost pristine base to build on. As the film uses dark, often metallic tinged hues, the colors don’t always look vibrant, but they look just as intended, while flesh tones remain natural and consistent as well. I found contrast to be top drawer also, with well balanced black levels and not even a hint of visible detail loss. Another Creature Features disc and of course, another terrific visual effort from Columbia.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is more than effective, but it fails to make good on some of the material’s potential. I heard some moments in which the speakers came to life, but in most cases, this remains a confined audio experience. I do think the mix has a solid, natural sound to it, but some scenes simply need more juice, which doesn’t happen. As such, its not so much that the track sounds bad, but it could have been so much more, with some creative playing with the elements to spice things up a little. The dialogue sounds crystal clear and some decent low end comes through however, so not all is lost with this mix, not by any means. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Thai, Korean, and Chinese, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An audio commentary track with producers Stan Winston & Shane Mahan, who provide an adequate session, though not an excellent one. Winston talks about his team’s work on the film, usually speaking about how a certain shot was done or in most cases, telling about the people behind the special effects. Mahan chimes in from time to time, but remains quiet a lot, which leaves Winston to fill up the time in most cases. This disc also includes a brief behind the scenes featurette, some still photos, and a promotional trailer for the Creature Features line.