Friday, March 26, 2021

World Without End

Writer/director Edward Bernds was better known for comedies starring the Three Stooges and the Bowery Boys, but he also made occasional forays into science fiction (SPACE MASTER X-7, QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE). He directed WORLD WITHOUT END, a time travel adventure, for Allied Artists in Technicolor and CinemaScope. Despite the advanced technical specs, Bernds does little with the camera to provide visual excitement, and the scenes of the rocketship barreling through outer space are cribbed from Monogram’s earlier release FLIGHT TO MARS.

A flight from Mars opens WORLD WITHOUT END, as four astronauts played by Hugh Marlowe (EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS), Rod Taylor (THE TIME MACHINE), Nelson Leigh (CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN), and Christopher Dark (SUDDENLY) return to the Iverson Ranch 500 years after they left it. Nuclear war has devastated the Earth’s surface, and the survivors, who are mainly hot young chicks in short skirts and middle-aged men jealous of the glamorous astronauts, live in an underground city. Apparently only Caucasians survived “the big blow.” Above live “mutates:” hideously deformed beasts who attack the astronauts on sight.

The opposite of sophisticated 1950s sci-fi like FORBIDDEN PLANET and THIS ISLAND EARTH, Bernds’ film is akin to MISSILE TO THE MOON, CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON, and other silly films about stiff Earthmen stumbling onto futuristic civilizations populated by horny women looking for mates. It allows Australia native Taylor to use his natural accent, but the performances are stiff, and the actors playing the future Earthmen look silly in their costumes and skullcaps. Nothing is sillier than the foam spiders that “attack” our heroes in a cave.

Allied Artists released WORLD WITHOUT END on a double bill with INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN. Noted character actors Paul Brinegar (RAWHIDE) and Strother Martin (COOL HAND LUKE) are “underground people,” and Herb Vigran has lines in an early scene as a reporter. Considering the similarities between the two films, Rod Taylor must have felt deja vu when he starred in THE TIME MACHINE four years later.

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