The Earth is attacked by mysterious invaders from outer space, who plan on destroying humankind. The invaders are invisible in our atmosphere, but are able to inhabit and reanimate the bodies of the dead. The armies of rotting corpses march on the cities, and it seems as though there is no defense. Major Bruce Jay (John Agar) is put in charge of a small, secret research center with a group of scientists, who must find a way of combating the invaders. Personality conflicts develop as Jay’s hard-nosed, by-the-book approach to his job — which requires him to kill anyone who might jeopardize the mission — put him in opposition to the scientists (played by Jean Byron, Philip Tonge, and Robert Hutton). They develop an ultra-sonic gun that has the combined effect of rendering the aliens visible and killing them, but first they must test it, by capturing an alien, an action that forces them to run the risk of being discovered
I think it is about time I went back to some classic sci-fi faire around here, even though my project is complete. One of the films that I had planned to use in said project, but just didn’t get around to was Invisible Invaders. Doesn’t that title alone make you curious?
What is this about?
Maj. Bruce Jay (John Agar) and his dedicated team of research scientists have the rather distasteful job of defeating invasion by a horde of invisible creatures from outer space capable of reanimating human corpses. The alien army of rotting walking dead begins methodically overtaking cities throughout the country. Can the team’s secret ultrasonic weapon turn the aliens visible and return the corpse soldiers to their graves?
What did I like?
Walking dead. No, I’m not talking about that hit AMC show, but rather the way that the invisible aliens are seen, which is through the re-animation of dead bodies. I found that to be an interesting way to communicate when you can’t be seen, as well as a different use for zombies. Of course, at this point in history, zombies weren’t the brain eating monsters we know them as today.
Focus. Many times, I chide films like this for spending entirely too much time on the human protagonists rather than the alien antagonists. In this case, there really isn’t much of a choice, as the aliens aren’t exactly the most interesting of peoples. Still, the film manages to spend some time informing us of the intentions of these creatures, their weaknesses, etc., without treating them like nothing more than scenery.
Message. There is a message here involving the nations of the world and their inability to work together. The same kind of message can be found in The Day the Earth Stood Still. However, this film is more direct about it, as opposed to alluding to it. Don’t get me wrong, both films have the same agenda, but this one makes no qualms about what it is trying to do, although it does save it for the last scene.
What didn’t I like?
What can be seen. Our ragtag group of heroes finally figure out a way to defeat the aliens through the use of sound. My problem is that the aliens leave their bodies and resemble the aliens from Cocoon. Perhaps they were the inspiration for that flick, who knows. Personally, I didn’t care for the look, but this is obviously a low-budget B-movie, so I can live with it, but that doesn’t mean I’m jumping for joy.
Cheap ploy? The idea of invisible alien invaders coming down to take over Earth is a novel one and I’m sure that when this was released, it freaked more than a few people out. I can’t get it out of the back of my mind, though, that the whole invisible thing was nothing more than a cheap ploy. It is pretty easy to create the effect of an invisible person walking and we never see this grand ship that they have. So, they’re either cheap or this budget was more limited that we know of…or both.
Narration. Normally, I don’t have an issue with narration, especially when it is done so masterfully by Walter Cronkite. However, this narration didn’t seem necessary, but rather more of another way for them to save a few bucks by not filming some expository scenes. I can live with it, I mean this guy’s a master at narration, as can be heard in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, but there had to have been a better way to use the narration in this film.
As far as classic alien invasion films go, Invisible Invaders is pretty decent for what it is. Could it have been better? Yes, but there are very few films that a person seen and doesn’t say they are. I found this film to be rather satisfying for what I was in the mood for, but I have the feeling had this been a flick I just randomly watched it wouldn’t have worked so well. With that in mind, I say you should go ahead and check this out, but know that you are getting into a low-budget B-movie sci-fi flick from the 50s. Just because I liked doesn’t necessarily mean that you will.
3 2/3 out of 5 stars