Movies That Suck #30 - Where Have All The People Gone

by - September 25, 2019

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Movies That Suck is a feature where I watch a bad movie and share my reactions to it in real time. Sort of like live tweeting without the tweeting. I watch it so you don't have to. And honestly- that's kinda the point, because you probably won't want to watch these anyway? But... sometimes we find a gem in the rough. Some of these don't actually suck, or they might suck but still have some redeeming value. And by definition this will be spoilery since I'm pretty much reacting to everything, so just a heads up there. Okay let's take a look. 

This week is Where Have All The People Gone?- an ABC Movie of the Week (made for TV) from the 70's. Yes, more post apocalyptic goodness from the 70's! I love the whole Movie of the Week vibe, by the way. I can just imagine families sitting down together with a bowl of popcorn to watch it together, in an era before there are literally a zillion movies of the week, with streaming and everything else. Such a simpler time. Anyway... this thing has a creepy little vibe to it, and yet it's pretty tame too. The Anders family are vacationing in the Sierra Nevada mountain in California, digging for fossils (awww) but Mom has to go home early, for work or something. You can already tell this is one of those wholesome, everyone loves each other families. 

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So Mom takes off (with their only transportation) and it's time for fossils! They've got some guy named Clancy with them- a family friend I guess?- who is puttering around outside the cave when there's a bright flash of light, followed by an earthquake. The family, meanwhile- Steven is the dad and the kids are Deborah and David- are in the cave, but they hightail it out during the quake. Clancy gets sick and they start theorizing about radiation- also David can't raise anybody on the radio. Well, that's a surprise. And being the 70's, there are no cells. 

Clancy is a mess at this point. They decide to hike down off the mountain but Clancy doesn't last long, and when he dies his body turns into powdery dust. Yikes. Deborah predictably freaks out a few times during all this, because female obviously- hello 70's-  and the eventually make their way down to Rainbow, a dusty little town in the middle of nowhere.  

Whatever has happened has fucked with the animals, too, because they're all super aggressive now. Steven gets attacked by a cat, and feral dogs show up a few times. It's kinda freaky too to see powder in the backseat of a car- it was obviously a kid. Deb freaks a little more- starts yelling about how everyone's dead. Which, can't really fault her. Oh, and they get to Clancy's house and find his wife dead. But the food is good!

They get a Blazer going (remember Blazers?) and are heading home when they find a survivor at a gas station. She doesn't talk but something bad obviously happened to her, and she's scared shitless by the dogs. They take her in and keep going and we get some occasional narration by Deborah as they drive along- it's a nice touch- and soon they're close to Bakersfield. They find another survivor alongside the road who promptly steals their Blazer- I guess it's every person for themself now. 

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Oh, it's kinda funny. As they're driving along Deborah mentions the first survivor's name is Jenny, but they don't actually know her name yet since she hasn't spoken. Later when she does talk Deborah mentions that she revealed her name to be Jenny. Editing, folks! Anyway, moving on. So they're hoofing it again and eventually make it to a ranch. There's a couple of dead bodies, because this is the apocalypse, but there's no one else around. Or is there? Someone's holding a gun on them and it turns out to be a kid named Michael. The bodies are his parents, killed by some assholes who came along looting. So they take Michael along as well- they have a little found family dynamic going on now.  

The goal of course is to get home and make sure Mrs. Anders is alive. Also, Michael relates that he was outside when the mysterious flash happened, but he's okay, and they start figuring it was a solar flare. But why is everyone dead and turned to powder- or almost everybody? They find a store and are looking for a new car in the parking lot when they meet another survivor- this guy's nice though and tells them that LA's fucked, not to go there- there are crazy dogs everywhere, and he got his family out. They part on good terms and the quest continues to get to Malibu, where the Anders live. 

The Walking Dead by the way could take a page from this book- not everyone has to be crazy or an asshole. It was refreshing to see a regular person just be, like, helpful? Anywho they have more dog problems and when they save Michael from a close call, Jenny erupts and reveals that dogs killed her children. She left them alone for just a minute while she was looking for a working car, and the dogs got to them before she could return. Pretty awful.

So they finally get to LA and it's empty- no one around. And there's another solar flare and quake! Apparently these are going to happen periodically? They finally get home and... Mrs. Anders is powder. She didn't survive. Kinda saw that coming but still... she left a note telling them that there was a virus identified in the days after the flare, and that some people are genetically immune (not very many, apparently). So that explains why some of them are okay. Although it's pretty sketchy, really- I mean, a solar flare followed by a virus, and oh the animals are crazy too (or dogs anyway, and maybe cats- they were around some horses and the horsies were fine). Best not to overthink this however.  

Everybody's devastated of course and Jenny decides to end it all, so she wades into the surf to drown . They pull her out, naturally, and decide that they want to live, after all, rather than give up and despair. So our little found family heads into northern California to start anew. And we have a little bittersweet ending. 

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So... does this movie suck? Well, I don't know. It's not bad, and the 70's vibe is actually kind of quaint and fun, in a throwback way. Also, it's only like 74 minutes long, so it doesn't take up a lot of your life. I guess as a made for TV flick they just padded it out with commercials. The 70's seemed to be rife with these disaster and post apoc kinda movies, and some of them aren't half bad. So while it kind of sucks (and might even be considered a little boring) it has its moments. 

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