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The Day the Sky Exploded
The Day the Sky Exploded
Actors: Paul Hubschmid, Fiorella Mari, Madeleine Fischer, Ivo Garrani, Dario Michaelis
Director: Paolo Heusch
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interests
NR     2003     1hr 22min

Platform:  DVD MOVIE Publisher:  ALPHA VIDEO Packaging:  DVD STYLE BOX The history-making launch of the first man into space takes an unexpected turn when Astronaut McLaren (Paul Hubschmid) is forced to eject from his ship...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Paul Hubschmid, Fiorella Mari, Madeleine Fischer, Ivo Garrani, Dario Michaelis
Director: Paolo Heusch
Creators: Mario Bava, Otello Colangeli, Guido Giambartolomei, Samuel Z. Arkoff, Marcello Coscia, Sandro Continenza, Virgilio Sabel
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interests
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Classics, Outdoor Recreation
Studio: Alpha Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 06/10/2003
Original Release Date: 09/27/1961
Theatrical Release Date: 09/27/1961
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 22min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Not much repeat watchability...
Tuco | Phoenix, Az USA | 04/08/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"First be advised that this is an Italian made sci-fi. The soundtrack has been adequately dubbed into english however the Aplha print is VERY poor and there is a large audio hissing throughout the entire feature.

While the script and acting is competent enough, I found it boring with minimal special effects. I cannot really pinpoint the reason, but it is very different from the sci-fi films made in the US at this same time. The whole thing had a kind of surreal quality to it. I found it hard to get into. I found the other popular lost Italian sci-fi flick 'Caltiki the Immortal Monster' much more watchable. DTSE is recommended only for completeists ONLY.

If you are looking for very good, lesser known 50's sci-fi titles to add to your collection, try hunting down Unknown World, First Man into Space, Creature with the Atom Brain, Lost Missile, Rocketship XM or Donovan's Brain. All very solid 50's sci-fi films with great repeat watchability."
So much for that space program, then, eh?
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 11/16/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This little French-Italian science fiction film from 1958 is interesting for two reasons: first, it adds a nice little twist to the whole "deadly meteorites headed for Earth" idea, and, second, it features cinematography by none other than future Euro-horror legend Mario Bava (even though his name is incorrectly listed as Baja in the opening credits). Frankly, though, the film isn't all that good. Cold War or no, scientists from both the West and Russia have come together to design a rocketship to launch the first man into space. The lucky pilot is American John McLaren (Paul Hubschmid), despite his complete lack of any charisma whatsoever. After a quick goodbye to his truly annoying wife, McLaren goes up, up, and away - but things go awry when he tries to fire up the engines to enter an orbit around the moon. Luckily, in this kind of deep space emergency, all he has to do is eject from the cockpit and let gravity bring him home to Earth (insert snicker here). The rocket, of course, keeps on going, and Mr. Space Hero forgot to even disengage the atomic engine.

It isn't long before animals all over the planet begin a massive migration away from the coastal areas and a great big whatsit starts appearing on Earth's radar screens. As luck would have it, the rocketship had collided with an asteroid, and now a whole shower of great big chunks of deadly rocks is hurtling right toward planet Earth. Even the annoying guy designated to hit on the ice queen female scientist (a given in all 1950s science fiction films) is taken aback. Five days away from Armageddon, what can possibly be done? These guys' big plan consists of calling a special session of the United Nations - I guess the UN in this fictional world is nothing like that in our own. Anyway, the last thirty minutes of the film basically consist of a waiting game. One scientist does buckle under the pressure, totally giving up in the face of danger (I'm pretty sure he's French), but the non-French peoples of Earth aren't going to give up until the very end.

The film is dubbed, of course, and you will see plenty of stock footage, but the cinematography isn't that bad, especially during the climactic scene at the end. The Sputnik satellite we see is perfectly ridiculous, though - it is literally a hammer and sickle. How daft is that? Well, it's not nearly as daft as some of the professional reviews of The Day the Sky Exploded I've glanced at, which actually say that the rocket crashes into the sun and somehow triggers meteors to come flying at Earth from that. I don't know what those guys were drinking when they watched the movie."
"You won't escape your doom! No one will! No one!"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 07/06/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Having not been born at the time, I can only imagine the excitement that must have been felt by those all over the world in the 1950s and 1960s as we looked towards the heavens, knowing humankind's first steps into the vast unknown of outer space were near. The possibilities must have seemed endless, illustrated (and fueled) by any number of wonderful and dramatic cinematic efforts...The Day the Sky Exploded (1961) is not one of those...this Italian/Franco production, originally released as La Morte viene dallo spazio (1958), was directed by Paolo Heusch (Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory), with legendary schlockmiester and American International Pictures co-founder Samuel Z. Arkoff listed as the executive producer (this explains a lot). Appearing in the film is Swiss born actor Paul Hubschmid (School for Connubial Bliss), Fiorella Mari (Mystery of the Black Jungle), Madeleine Fischer (The Bachelor), Ivo Garrani (Hercules and the Captive Women), Dario Michaelis (Goliath at the Conquest of Damascus), and Jean-Jacques Delbo (The Shadow vs. the Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse).

The film begins with flashes of newspaper headlines I can't read because they're all in a foreign language, but given the size of the typeset, it must be pretty important news. Wait, there's one in English...lemme see, it says `omic Moon Ship will unched in a Few Hou'...seriously, that's what it says because given the film is presented in full screen format, portions of the film are cut off...thanks Alpha...what its supposed to say is `Atomic Moon Rocket will be Launched in a Few Hours'. All right, from what I can glean, there is an international effort to send a man into space, and we're nearing go time...and an American, John McLaren (Hubschmid), has been chosen to pilot the vessel. After a whole lot of hullabaloo and a ton of technical crapola, the rocket is off, and ground control celebrates by boozing it up with champagne, which I though to be a little odd, but then I noticed a dog wandering around the control room, so apparently things are pretty loosey goosey around here...whatever...the party is cut short, though, as something goes wrong with the rocket and McLaren ejects. He arrives safety back on Earth (whew!), but the unmanned ship, loaded with atomic material, hits an asteroid mass, causing hundreds of millions of tons of space rock to veer towards Earth, virtually ensuring our destruction...unless...unless nothing, buddy! We're in for it now...put your head between your legs and kiss it goodbye...this impending doom triggers some strange phenomena, illustrated by all animals acting all weird (they're always the first to know), followed by tidal waves, rising temperatures (the roof is one fire, the roof is on fire), and this the end? Believe me, after spending an hour an twenty minutes watching this dreck you'll be wishing it was...

Stock footage, for those who may not know, are `films either in the public domain or available for a set fee that can thus be put into any other film. Stock footage is of great use to filmmakers as it is generally far cheaper than actually filming a needed scene. The great difficulty is that it cannot be altered and thus cannot contain the same actors as the rest of the film, and often is not even in the same style' (thank you, Wikipedia). So anyway, I can't even begin to estimate how many low budget (and big budget) films utilize stock footage, and that's fine, if it's meant to complement the movie, but when someone tries to actually make a film from stock footage, it becomes annoying (I'd estimate 35% of this movie was stock footage) far as the actual movie, it was just tedious as hell (I never realized how boring mass evacuations can be). There was an obvious attempt to punch up the plot a little with a completely lame-brained romantic subplot (that goes nowhere) between two of the scientists "Your melting point has risen"...oh bruther, and also an even lamer one involving conflict between McLaren and his wife about how he's so dedicated to his job and she feels he's neglecting her and their son, who, by the way, has to be one of the most annoying characters I've seen since Jar Jar Binks, which is not small feat as the kid had so little actual screen time. Do you like kooky, spacey sound effects played over and over and over? Well, you won't be disappointed here, as the same two are used ad nauseam through the entire film. If'n you're a fan of the science fiction technical jibber jabber, then you're also in for a treat, as this film has it in spades...actually, it sounds pretty realistic, but given its unrestricted usage, a sense of realism didn't make it any less tiresome to sit through...but no matter how plebeian things got, it was still better than the awfulness introduced when the characters were presented. They were so lifeless and their interpersonal relationships so hollow and meaningless I actually looked forward to getting another dosing of stock footage. The plot is pretty straightforward, offering little in the way of surprises. I did like the bit when, as the asteroids drew near, the one blonde scientist (I think he was Russian) started wigging out, spouting the line I used for my title...his performance wasn't spectacular, but it was welcome break from the general, mind-numbing monotony. Speaking of performances, none of them are worth mentioning, and if Hubschmid was the intended lead, you'd hardly know it...after the rocket stuff in the first third of the film, he really has little reason for being around for the rest of the story as he contributes so little, until the end when he comes up with a simplistic plan to stave of ultimate laced with an irony the filmmakers can't help but point out as apparently subtly wasn't something film going audiences of the late 50's/early 60's understood. The real science fiction in this story is the notion that all the countries of the Earth could have, and would have, worked together as they did within the film, pursuant to a common goal. I may sound harsh in my criticisms of this film, and perhaps I am, as there was a sense of effort present, and the direction and cinematography (by Mario Bava, no less) were decent, but given this was supposed to be a tale about the distinct possibility of the annihilation of all life on Earth, I was hoping for a bit more juice...

The picture, presented in full screen format, on this Alpha DVD release looks awful, even for Alpha's standards (what standards?) The picture is extremely rough, often missing frames, fuzzy, and murky throughout. This is one bit of celluloid that has not aged well over the years, either physically, or artistically. The audio isn't much better, often coming across as muffled and muted. There aren't any special features, unless you count Alpha listing pictorial images of their other DVD releases (I don't). About the most exciting element of this release if the cover art on the case, but you don't have to take my word for it...


By the way, get a load of the American reporter at the beginning...the only people I see with that kind of energy and enthusiasm are on meth-amphetamines...
Wonderfully Bad
Ander | Vancouver | 06/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Fans of embarrassingly awful sci-fi movies won't be disappointed with this gobbler, which consists largely of technicians staring at consoles that look like they were assembled from surplus appliance parts and saying cryptic pre-computer-age things like "Connect circuit A-17"... "Roger, circuit A-17 is connected."

To make it even more excruciatingly bad---which, of course, is good---this movie was apparently filmed in Italian (or was it French? or both?) and released on DVD with dubbed English. This makes it easy to imagine you've turned down the volume and have invited friends over to improvise the most unlikely dialogue you can imagine. (This, by the way, is a fun game even with movies that aren't dubbed.)

Don't buy this single-feature DVD, though. Instead, get "Classics From Outer Space," a 3-DVD set that includes "The Day The Sky Exploded" plus 9 (!) other wonderfully bad vintage sci-fi features, all for about the same price."