Friday, December 9, 2011

Ten Statements About....INVISIBLE INVADERS (1959)

"So I stand here with this test tube and...wait, what are you
doing with that stick of TNT?"
"Long ago we learned to change the molecular structure of our bodies. You cannot see us. I am using this dead man's body so that I can communicate with you."

1) You really can tell the kind of film you've decided to invest your time in when, after we've sat through a 'Voice-O'-Doom' announcer setting the tone, we get a shot of John Carridane appearing all scientist-y...and then John Carradine blows up.

2) ...except that after the film sets up the plot--there are these invaders kinda hanging out on the moon, they're invisible to the human eye, they're coming to possess our dead and wipe us out if we don't surrender--it gets really, really dark. Hell, at points it almost becomes a post-apocalyptic tale.

3) Was John Carradine the kind of guy who just needed to work constantly? I ask this because I do think his propensity to appear in pretty much any film that would have him did his reputation wrong, which is a pity because Carradine is very good as an old school actor. In this film, he pretty much has one scene as the alien-possessed scientist who gives his colleague Dr. Penner (melodramatically assayed by Philip Tonge) the initial warning...and all I could think of is how much more of him I wanted to see of him. Carradine works this one scene and makes the aliens seem rather scary.

4) You positively have to give director Edward L. Cahn credit. This film had to have been made for a budget of pretty much pocket lint and yet through prodigious use of stock footage and narration and repeating key scenes multiple times (in one case superimposing an alien/zombie hybrid horde coming over a hill with stock footage to give greater weight to the narrator's insistence that the Earth has been hobbled by a wave of sabotage attacks) gives it a little more scope than it has the right to have.

"yep...I'm gonna rock your mini-van lovin' world..."
5) That being said, some of the stock footage use comes off as unintentionally hilarious--like when the aliens choose to give their second warning to the world, they do so at a semi-pro hockey game in Syracuse. Good job getting all of the world to pay attention to you there...

6) Boy, John Agar sure is smooth when it comes to picking up matronly daughters of overacting scientists during the zombie apocalypse. He'd be a real MiLF killer if he was alive for the coming one...

7) I love how the fact that no one believes that Dr. Penner has met an alien zombie promising invasion, and that is the lead story in every paper we see. Was this the slowest news day ever?.

"Booo!  I's da Michelin Monsta!"
8) Good idea making the aliens invisible, since our one glimpse of what they look like at the end makes us think we were going to be dominated by a race of Michelin Tire Men.

9) I suspect that this is one of the earliest examples of a Horror Film Disguised As A Science Fiction Film, since after the twenty minute mark this almost comes off as a dry-run for Night of The Living Dead, with a group of survivors holed up in a secure place while zombies sort of mill around outside being menacing.

10) Make no bones about this--the science part of this science fiction film, from its contention that the moon has been inhabited by invisible alien for thousand of years to the solution for killing the aliens (sonics!) is dubious at best...thus my 'Horror Film Disguised As A Science Fiction Film' contention. turns hilarious and pretty damn dark, this is a rather interesting curiosity both as a harbinger of the zombie-crazed firmament to come and as an example of how to approach micro-budgeted genre filmmaking.

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