TNB Night Owl–The Hellstrom Chronicle

Wheel of cheese cut and stacked in front of a stone wall. Photo by Alexander Maasch.

It’s Friday night. Time to settle in and unwind from a long week. And what could be more relaxing than a movie? How about a movie where insects take over the world in the event of a nuclear holocaust?

Did I mention it’s a documentary?

THE HELLSTROM CHRONICLE (1971) won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and the award was well deserved. It broke ground for its use of microscopic lenses, filming insects in amazing detail. We follow the life cycles of a number of bugs across the world and learn how the world is for them. It’s fascinating, if not a little cringe-worthy.

As well as learning about what bug life is like, we are also told by Dr. Nils Hellstrom that it is not humans who will inherit the Earth, but the underestimated insect. We’re outnumbered, outpowered, and their lack of a moral compass primes them for survival. And while he sounds like an expert, Dr. Hellstrom isn’t. In fact, he doesn’t exist. He’s played by actor Lawrence Pressman, known to television audiences as Michael Mulligan from “Mulligan’s Stew”.

The screenplay is oddly fascinating, having been written by David Seltzer. Seltzer would go on to famously pen THE OMEN (1976) and the infamous PROPHECY (1979) (not the Christopher Walken apocalyptic angel version, but the Manbearpig one).

Between the never-before-seen camerawork, and the pessimistic storyline, THE HELLSTROM CHRONICLE quickly became a cult hit. So much so that legendary science fiction author Frank Herbert (yep, the DUNE one) wrote essentially a fanfiction novel about the movie. It’s pretty good.

But don’t take my word for it. You can watch the movie yourself on YouTube:

Question of the night–Would Mothra be the ultimate winner if all the kaiju monsters were real?

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