Question: My brother and I remember watching a sci-fi movie when we were 11 or 12, which places it around 1980. We can't remember any actors' names, but the premise had something to do with the sun being unstable, so people were suddenly engulfed in an extremely bright flash and dissolve into white powder or ashes. Lorne

In the '70s, I remember a TV movie in which the sun flared so brightly that anyone standing outside turned into little stones, while their clothes were left untouched. People indoors or in sufficient shade were spared until the next flare. Any idea what this movie was called, and if it's rentable? TP

Flickchick: When it rains, it pours (III). This time the obscure object of desire is a made-for-TV sci-fi thriller Where Have All the People Gone (1974), starring Peter Graves and Kathleen Quinlan. The solar flares that reduce people to piles of ash seem to be the only part anyone remembers, but the main plot involves a family, headed by paterfamilias Graves, that's on a camping trip when the solar flares start. Their first thought is to get home and find out what's become of mom, but quickly realize they're faced with a full-time job trying to survive the lethal virus that's just wiped out most of Earth's population. Unlike many TV-movies from the '70s, this one has been on commercial video in the past, and is offered for sale on such small sites as Science Fiction Continuum ( and Movieland Express ( If you're willing to spend a lot of time combing through the sci-fi/horror sections in smaller video stores (the kind that don't automatically get rid of tapes that are more than a few years old), you may be able to turn up a rental copy.