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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 01.15.08] post apocalyptic

Year: 1974
Director: John Llewellyn Moxey
Writers: Lewis John Carlino & Sandor Stern
IMDB: link
Review by: Agent Orange
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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 corporate stooge 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 whole movie:

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wolfeyes (14 years ago) Reply

Great review!!


Ger (12 years ago) Reply

where can I get this movie?


quietearth (12 years ago) Reply

I bought my copy off ebay.


Piermont Video (12 years ago) Reply

What a piece of junk...The kids are so annoying,you want to feed them to the rabid dogs. 1974 TV movie, and looks it.
Rated G OMG


Gumby666 (12 years ago) Reply

Saw this movie when it was first aired, and loved it, of course I was much, much younger. Still, I liked the idea, although there was a Star Trek episode with a similiar idea. No coincidence though I'm sure as Moxey was also a Star Trek director. I don't know the title, but about ten years later there was a young adult book published with the same premise. I always thought that this could have been a pilot for a series that never sold.

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