- Movie Rating -

The Late Great Planet Earth (1978)

| October 25, 1978

Well, that’s it!
We’re doomed!
Get yourself a shovel, son.
It’s about to get deep!

According to this movie, the Bible says that the human race is headed on a collision course of earthquakes, famine, disease, volcanic eruptions, holocausts, African Killer Bees, hellfire and brimstone, and it’s all coming soon – so brace yourself, buster.  The clock is ticking.  And if you don’t believe that, you might well know that this information is trotted out courtesy of Orson Welles who serves as host and narrator with effective vocal intonations and a spooky score to back him up.

Based on Hal Lindsey’s 1970 fast buck best-seller, The Late Great Planet Earth is a doomsday scare-a-thon in which scholars have apparently twisted and turned and interpreted the words of the Bible so that they signal the end of the world through current world crisis – pollution, the Middle East Crisis, geneticized killer bees, computer technology, the founding of Israel and the apparent Satanic machinations that created the European Common Market.

A lot of scholars, ministers and politicians are brought on board to affirm these claims, many of them to only say a few words that we miss because we’re too busy reading the name and title that is shoved under their chin in white text.  They sound official and their words sound right, but if you actually listen to even one of them, you might suspect that they are answering a different question than the one that the movie is currently asking them.

In an effort to confirm the movie’s paranoid claims, the writers take a very wide swath at the words of the Bible to fit the scare tactics that Lindsey and the film’s producers want to get across.  The bottom-of-the-barrel, to my mind, is the idea that computer technology can help us signal the identity of the anti-Christ, as we see a technician decoding the names of Ronald Reagan, Ted Kennedy and Jerry Brown.

The producer Robert Amram apparently spared no expense on acquiring news footage of famine, war zones, mushroom clouds and natural disasters to put under the films’ depressing score.  If you believe this, you’ll believe anything.  And millions have, based on exactly how many people bought the book.  And if you go into this movie willing to buy its tactics, it has plenty of production values to scare you into becoming a believer – or, at least, spending more money on books like “The Late Great Planet Earth.”

[reviewed February 7, 2021]

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1978) View IMDB Filed in: Documentary