When next we see Elizabeth in the microbiology lab where she and Matthew work (also seen earlier in the movie) she and her zombie-like colleagues have all fallen prey to the alien invaders. But what about Matthew?
He walks in and looks at them; impassive. He may of course be faking it, in survival mode as it were.
Then … The movie’s blood-chilling final scene unfolds when we see him again, in the Civic Center Plaza behind City Hall (map).
… and Now, those same pollarded trees are 41 years sturdier now. Somebody has a secure job trimming them back every winter. A re-gilded dome on City Hall enhances its grandeur.
Then … another view reveals behind him the low walls that defined an extended pool that used to run down the spine of the Plaza.
… and Now, but it was replaced years ago by a gravel walkway. McAllister Street in the background borders the north side of the plaza.
This vintage 1973 photo shows the pool as it still was when the movie was filmed in 1978.
Then … “Matthew? … Matthew!” - Nancy Bellicec has managed to stay one step ahead of the aliens and, incredibly relieved to see him, calls out his name.
… and Now, the Civic Center South Playground today occupies this corner of the Plaza.
But as she approaches him with a knowing smile he points at her and emits the blood-curdling scream that identifies humans to nearby alien converts. Now we know it; he too has succumbed and there’s no hope, for Nancy or indeed for the entire human race.