Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

World Without End


Just as in today’s cinema people of the future tend to live in horrible poverty, overcrowded, hungry, living in ruins or the overbuilt cities so beloved by set designers, in the ‘40s and ‘50s visions of a future world were usually of sanitized uniformity. This one is a great example. A quartet of astronauts are hurtled into the future and when they land, they find that humanity is divided into brutish, mutated savages who live on the surface, and “scientific” people who live underground in quarters that resemble a cheap shopping mall or a Holiday Inn a la 2508. All the men are puny and wrinkled. All the women are Playboy bunnies. There was a bullshit explanation for this, but I’ve forgotten what it was. The elders always speak as if they were addressing the United Nations: Ponderous, portentous, pretentious twaddle. So do two of the visitors from the past, especially the older leader, a “man of science” who is able to deduce almost anything from the flimsiest of evidence and then pontificate on it endlessly and portentously. The troglodyte people have been living underground for centuries and are afraid to venture onto the surface and wipe out the murderous “mutates,” which is the word they use for mutants. They are dying out, apparently because their children are wasting away from lack of sunshine.

Ah, well. At least it’s good to see that some of the blessed values of civilization have been preserved, such as high-heeled shoes, skirts cut right up to the … er, naughty bits, low-cut blouses, push-up bras, and hairstylists who are able to whip up a decent bouffant.

For some reason the producer of this turkey decided to splurge on Cinemascope and Technicolor, and then skimp on everything else. (Maybe that’s why the skirts are so short; the costume lady ran out of material. … no, probably not.) The astronauts—including Rod Taylor before he was a star and Hugh Marlowe after he was one—encounter some rubber spiders the size of German shepherds and have to work very hard wrestling and screaming to make it seem like the arachnids are alive before they kill them … and by golly, the rubber spiders were recycled from a movie called Valley of the Dragons, even worse than this one (which, coincidentally, we just saw a few days ago). That movie, in turn, used footage cannibalized from earlier monster films. It’s a dog-eat-spider world out there, I guess.

Must mention the savage “mutates.” They are wearing masks so godawful amateurish that we almost always see them only from the back or at distances where the masks are not easy to make out. The very few times we get enough of a close-up to actually take in the faces the only possible thing to do is laugh. Some of them have only one eye, in the center. The actors could not have been able to see much through those things.