I first discovered this movie back in the 1990’s, from a photo in some book about shlocky monster movies (I forget which book now). The monster looked crazy as hell and he was menacing a pretty blonde in a nightgown… exactly the sort of imagery that makes me consider a movie “worth seeing”.
Then I learned that the blonde was actually Lori Nelson - who I loved as the sexy marine biologist heroine in “Revenge of the Creature” (sequel to “Creature From the Black Lagoon”) – and this movie jumped from “worth seeing” to “must-see” status in my mind.
I never got around to seeing “Day the World Ended” until just a couple years ago, when it was finally released with “She-Creature” on a “double-feature DVD”. Upon viewing, I was pleased to learn that this was one of the first movies Roger Corman ever directed…and also, that the good guy is played by Richard Denning, who played the bad guy in the first “Creature From the Black Lagoon”.
So for this combination of reasons (crazy looking monster, Lori Nelson, Roger Corman, Richard Denning) I watched it with (probably foolish) high expectations… and was mostly let-down.
I will not try to convince anyone that “Day the World Ended” is a great movie. Oh it has a great monster and a great cast, but they are not balanced very well. It’s a case of not enough horror atmosphere, and too much tedious, talky exposition… without much apparent purpose other than to fill time.
That said, the final 10 or 15 minutes is a rollercoaster. “Day the World Ended” plods along and takes for-freakin-ever to get to “the good part” but at the VERY END, everything goes haywire and the movie finally gives you your money’s worth:
A bad girl pulls a switchblade on her hoodlum boyfriend. He promptly beats her up and throws her off a cliff. There’s a very shocking, grisly shot (for 1955) of the girl’s body tumbling and bouncing off the rocky cliff-face, all the way to the bottom. Lori Nelson wakes up in the middle of the night and goes outside (in her nightgown) to investigate. The crazy looking monster attacks. Lori faints, and the monster carries her away. A rainstorm starts. Lori wakes up and screams. Richard Denning shows up with a gun and starts shooting at the monster. They end up waist-deep in a swampy-looking pond. More chaos ensues and the monster dies. Richard Denning retrieves sopping-wet Lori Nelson and holds her tight. THE END.