EDITOR’S NOTE: The Quiet Earth was not produced by Cannon but was theatrically distributed by them. For another take on this movie, read this.
Loosely based on the novel by Craig Harrison and kind of, sort of a remake of The World, the Flesh and the Devil, this movie has the world end on 6:12 a.m. on July 5. Hmm…that’s the same time the clock stopped in the Twilight Zone episode “Where Is Everybody?”
Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) is a scientist working on Project Flashlight for Delenco, part of a United States-led international consortium. The goal? A wireless global energy grid that can power military equipment anywhere. He wakes up and is the only person alive. There are no bodies, even when he finds a burning airplane. There are no animals. There’s just him.
No bodies, that is, until he finds the corpse of his boss. The mass disappearance of everything alive was caused by activating Flashlight. He hears his own voice saying: “One: there has been a malfunction in Project Flashlight with devastating results. Two: it seems I am the only person left on Earth.”
Zac then goes insane, declaring himself President of this Quiet Earth and performing for a crowd of cardboard figures before blasting Jesus off the cross within a church. He nearly kills himself — that’s what he was doing before, an overdose of sleeping pills kept him asleep during the Flashlight effect — and it’s good he stays alive, because he soon meets Joanne (Alison Routledge) and Api (Pete Smith). There’s a love triangle, as the ways of the old world continue into the new, but Zac decides that he should sacrifice himself to ensure that the effect doesn’t destroy any more of the Earth; it’s then that he goes on an entirely new journey into another even more quiet world.
Director Geoff Murphy would go on from this art take on the end of the world and make movies like Young Guns II, Freejack and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Laurence not only starred in this, he also wrote the script with Bill Baer.