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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Day the World Ended (2001)

Dr. Stillman: Why are you different?
Ben: I can't tell you.

- Nastassja Kinsk, Bobby Edner

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: November 17, 2002

Stars: Randy Quaid, Nastassja Kinski
Other Stars: Harry Groener, Lee de Broux, Stephen Tobolowsky, Debra Christofferson, Neil Vipond, Brian Steele
Director: Terence Gross

MPAA Rating: R for (horror violence, some language, a sex scene)
Run Time: 01h:30m:07s
Release Date: August 20, 2002
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-B+B C+

DVD Review

HBO's Creature Feature series of original films take the title of a 1950s Samuel Z. Arkoff sci-fi classic and build an entirely new story around it, augmented by occasionally cool visual makeup effects from guru Stan Winston. This latest one to come to DVD stars Randy Quaid and Nastassja Kinski in a very traditional sci-fi thriller that would have been perfectly at home during the alien invasion heyday of 1950s Hollywood. The teleplay from Max Enscoe, who also wrote the forgettable Earth Vs. the Spider, blends equal parts of Forbidden Planet and The Twilight Zone into a paranoid little monster movie set in a picturesque mountain town in Nevada.

Dr. Jennifer Stillman (Kinski) is a New York City psychiatrist who has packed up her belongings and accepted a new position as therapist at the Sierra Vista Elementary school. Her arrival in town is immediately met by a mass of unfriendly stares from the locals, who have all of the social graces of pod people. Her involvement with perpetually picked upon youngster Ben McCane (Bobby Edner) further alienates her from the townsfolk, including the boy's father, Dr. McCane (Quaid).

Young Ben is sort of a spooky cross between The Sixth Sense-vintage Haley Joel Osment and Billy "Wish You Into The Cornfield" Mumy from The Twilight Zone, and the fact that he can do some weird things with his mind (like make a bully's nose bleed or shatter windows) doesn't really help him fit in any better, nor does the fact that he thinks his real dad is an alien who will some day come back to Earth for him. Edner can do the hangdog look pretty well, and he looks properly frail and misunderstood. Kinski, who seems to have not aged at all, doesn't act as much as she just spends most of the film looking alternatingly frightened or concerned, while Quaid lumbers through with a fun role that gets progressively darker as the story unfolds.

Much like the films that influenced The Day the World Ended, the actual appearance by the monster is mostly hinted at, with an eyeball here or a tentacle there. The grand payoff is almost an anti-climax, and I suspect the unremarkable creature creation is something Stan Winston and his crew do in their sleep.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Columbia TriStar offers two flavors of The Day the World Ended, in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame images. Speaking strictly for the widescreen option, this is really a beautiful-looking transfer, full of deep, golden colors and very crisp blacks that hold up well during the film's numerous night scenes. My suggestion is don't go for the cramped 1.33:1 transfer if you can help it. Edge enhancement is minimal, as are any noticeble blemishes on the print.


Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: This disc contains two very similar audio tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround. The 5.1 mix is definitely much fuller across the fronts, with more pronounced directional imaging. Rear channels are used sparingly, but when they are it is quite effective. It only makes me wish the mix had been a little more aggressive, because there are hints here at how sweet this disc could have sounded, such as during one of the attack sequence, where the monster's screeching screams bounce around all five channels.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese, Korean with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bram Stoker's Dracula, Night Of The Living Dead, The Blob
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Stan Winston, Shane Mahan
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: As with She Creature, effects wizards/producers Stan Winston and Shane Mahan provide a running full-length, scene-specific commentary track. Again, I would have liked to hear input from the director, in this case Terence Gross. Much of Winston and Mahan's comments are fairly generic, and some of Winston's holier-than-thou asides are sometimes a trifle overbearing.

A substantial Photo Gallery is also included, and it's divided into Monster Sketches, Building the Monster, Behind the Scenes, and Production Stills. The Making Of featurette (03m:28s) is really just a bloated HBO commercial, though it does include a couple of quick comments from director Gross and Brian Steele (the guy who wears the monster suit).

Trailers for the Creature Feature series, as well as Bram Stoker's Dracula, Night of the Living Dead, The Blob are provided. The disc is split into 28 chapters, and features subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese, and Korean.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

This is fun 1950s-style sci-fi, enhanced by dramatically more sophisticated creature effects. The story is full of one-note stock characters, but the underlying degree of uncertainty makes the whole thing as entertaining and satisfying as The Beast With a Million Eyes or It Came From Outer Space.



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