Sunday, 16 August 2015

No Blade Of Grass (1970)

1970s' No Blade of Grass is a laughably heavy handed ecological post apocalyptic movie that seems so proud of its green message, that it scream it at the viewer, taking it so seriously that it ultimately becomes utterly hysterical and overheated. True exploitation, the film's producer and director, Cornell Wilde, doesn't seem to understand how unsavoury it is to place real life footage of starving and dying African children alongside his Boy's Own macho action scenes. It doesn't help either that the unrelentingly grim air is populated with terrible performances and some incredibly stilted unintentionally hilarious dialogue; it's all "My God Pirie, I'll have to tell my wife Janet, Roger and the two boys", just in case we've forgotten the characters in the film. It also has a truly lousy score; Roger Whittaker's interminable warbling takes up the film's first five minutes and the incidental music, a dated acid jazz funk nightmare is laughably out of place over the exploitative rapes, murders, beatings and riots that the film delights in.

The lead actor is Nigel Davenport as Custance, a rather bluff, conceited ex Korean war veteran and successful architect who in light of the global crisis and the breakdown of society obsessively leads his family to his brother's farm in the north. He's not really a very sympathetic character, as he seems to openly embrace the position he's found himself in and glories in being a tinpot leader. Also, he's quite a hypocrite; he  expresses snobbish disgust at scenes of the rioting populace in big cities, and a hatred for stick up merchants trying to fend for themselves, yet he seems perfectly comfortable waltzing across the country shooting to death anyone who gets in his way, including soldiers doing their duty...and his family seldom blink an eye at his actions! Speaking of eyes - Custance only has one. Davenport sports an eyepatch which immediately makes him even more laughable as its clear the film thinks it somehow makes him look as grizzled, macho and hardened as the events and repercussions they're trying to convey are. In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king they say and, to prove it, Davenport's disability doesn't seem to put the young and jet black haired Wendy Richard off who, as one of the stragglers he picks up during the journey, spends half of her time pointing her not inconsiderable tits in his direction much to her husband's disgust, and the other half of her time moaning. An actress who had seemingly built a career on having a perpetual face like a slapped arse, when she's not fluttering her eyelashes at Davenport that is,  I think it must have been this gloomfest gig that got her the part of chief moaner in EastEnders...though it could be argued Walford is slightly more bleaker than a lawless country ravaged by famine and marshal law. 

No Blade Of Grass is so earnest and unrelenting in ramming its point home that it hurts. Nevertheless both the film and its source novel, John Christopher's The Death of Grass, predates things like the Terry Nation penned Survivors, an excellent BBC TV series from the late 70s which covered a similar apocalyptic plot and was remade again for the BBC a few years ago before being cruelly cancelled after just two series. 

Watching this though is both an interminable and ridiculous experience but I can't help thinking it's likely to be a favourite of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace stars Matthew Holness and Matt Berry. 

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