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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 12.05.14] post apocalyptic scifi adventure

[Editor's Note: This review originally appeared on Quiet Earth in 2008 when this film was practically myth. Since I just noticed it was uploaded in its entirety on YouTube this year, I thought I would re-post and give people a chance to watch it. Film is at the bottom of the review]

Before The Road Warrior steered the genre towards mohawked mutants and hockey masked Humunguses, apocalyptic films enjoyed a period of severe cultural examination. Particularly during those heady days of the 1970s, when the New Cinema movement vowed to make movies about only "serious" issues, was it rare to see a film about Armageddon that didn't try to offer some pedantic lesson on the evils of pollution, corporate greed, or the devastating effects of the atomic age.

So you can imagine my surprise when, sitting down to watch this ultra-rare relic of 70s television, I realized I wasn't going to get hit over the head with Peter Graves doing his best Charlton Heston impression exclaiming what fools we were for 'blowing it all up.' No, Where Have all the People Gone? is another beast entirely.

See, with no evil government or greedy corporation to blame for releasing a designer virus, or being too hasty with the bomb, Where Have all the People Gone? has the luxury of being, first and foremost, a family drama with a nice little sci-fi mystery laced in for good measure.

The basic story is as follows: Peter Graves is an all American Dad who takes his family to study rocks for summer vacation (fun hey?). While safe within one of California's many caves one day, a strange natural phenomenon (lazily perhaps described as solar flares) makes a large percentage of the population violently ill and then evaporate, leaving behind only a pool of white powder. Now Graves and co., having avoided this plague, must travel across an empty earth back to Los Angeles to find their mother, fighting rabid dogs and solving the mystery of what happened along the way.

Of course it's not entirely true that WHATPG? shares nothing with the ethos of the new American cinema of the 70s. There are no easy resolutions here; no 'aw shucks' happy endings that you might expect to be present in a made for TV drama from '74 starring Peter Graves. What you get are characters who come face to face with some profound understandings about the true state of the world and who, by the end, must be emotionally strong enough to confront the task of reorganizing it. And that's what I love about post apocalyptic parables. If you were given a world that was stripped of all the trappings of modern civilization, how would you go about organizing it? Like an apocalyptic SIMS game (which if isn't invented yet, I now get royalties btw woohoo!) you're in charge of fixing all the stuff we can't control in this world.

So in closing, Where Have all the People Gone? is a worthwhile little MFTV film, and a welcome addition to my post-apocalyptic collection. It's only like 1 hour long, which is weird, but perhaps that works in its favor. As you can see by the screenshots, it still plays on boutique television channels like Scream and Sci-fi, so keep your eyes on the guide.

Here's the entire movie:

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chuck (7 years ago) Reply

A PA Sims game?! Show me the Kickstarter!


Koolz (7 years ago) Reply

Logun's Run the Best!


quietearth (7 years ago) Reply

this has an awesome 70s feel to it, highly recommended for PA fans.


zombieja (7 years ago) Reply

One of my favorites, and as a child of the 70's, this one ticks a lot of my boxes. Even though I have it on DVD, I was disappointed when I had found the YT version with the film animations in the sidebar. I think a lot of people would get too annoyed with that to watch the movie.


Wumpus (7 years ago) Reply

This reminds me: why doesn't QE have a review of This Quiet Earth?


agentorange (7 years ago) Reply

The Quiet Earth, hey? Never heard of that one ;)


zoombazoo (7 years ago) Reply

Good Movie


uncleB (7 years ago) Reply

Logans Run and Damnation Alley

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