Steven Anders and his family are out camping one day when a little bit of an earthquake hits, and as far as they are concerned that is all it was as they were underground at the time. Reaching topside to see if their friend is okay, they find he is feeling pretty sick and decide to take him back to town for some medical treatment where along the way, he dies and turns to ash. Knowing that something is bad and that it might be caused by radiation, they get to town and find it a ghost town as everyone has been turned to ash. Eventually they find out that it was a solar flare and most likely the same thing has happened all over world. Deciding to head for home in California to see if everything is okay, they rescue a couple of people along the way who have also made it and become closer as a family during the trip. While they may not find what they are looking for, in the end they do obtain hope.
Where Have All the People Gone is a pretty decent made for television movie. It is evident that any money they had for this movie went to the cast, specifically Peter Graves who stars as the father, Steven Anders. Despite that, the film was actually enjoyable even if it was just another end of the world scenario. As far as post-apocalyptic tales go, this one was pretty tame with the human race not going out with a bang, but a whimper which perhaps, is a good thing. Yes, the agony of the sickness did not seem too pleasing, but better than being turned into a zombie or dying some sort of horrific death. It definitely is no Walking Dead or The Last Man on Earth.
Graves does a good job, as he usually does. He is sort of like Ronald Reagan in that aspect as he always made good films with good roles, but he just never rose to the level of an A-list star. Also in the film is a young Kathleen Quinlan as his daughter. She shows a lot of talent, especially when her mind starts to break over what has happened, the desolation and quietness of her surroundings, and realizing that it has affected everything including children. George O’Hanlon Jr. plays the son and does an okay job, but sometimes his frustration seems fake as he overplays it at times. Chalk it up to inexperience as an actor perhaps.
There is a little violence in the film, but nothing too extreme. There is the threat of violence as well, coming not only from other survivors, but from packs of rabid dogs who have also been affected from the solar flare. They did not seem to die, but just go mad instead. It was a nice bit to add into the movie, to see how other things are affected around them instead of just focusing on the human perspective.
Again, it was a pretty decent movie. There is nothing to write home about in this one and if you never see it, you will never miss it. But it is enjoyable if you like post-apocalyptic type stuff. If you can find it, give it a shot and you might discover a nice little gem of a film.
4 out of 5