Thursday, March 26, 2020

you ain't seen me, right?

After Trump's quote about the Coronavirus being 'an invisible enemy' I reckoned this was appropriate.

Tho' to be honest at this point I've kinda stopped caring.

Invisible Invaders (1959).
Dir: Edward L. Cahn.
Cast: John Agar, Jean Byron, Philip Tonge, Robert Hutton, John Carradine, Hal Torey Paul Langton, Eden Hartford, Don Kennedy and Chuck Niles.

Dear Lord, I pray that I am insane, that all that happened is only in my mind. I pray that tomorrow the sun will shine again on living things, not on a world where only the dead walk the Earth.

Welcome to the awfully atomic-obsessed 1950s where we join eminent science type Dr. Karol Noymann* (Carradine, covered in talc and wearing a tramps suit) just as he's killed in a huge explosion whilst trying to weaponise his farts to use against 'the Red Menace'.


But the sudden death of this well respected and much-loved member of the science establishment shakes this close knit community to the core and prompts  his college Dr. Adam Penner (Tonge, father of Pete) to resign his position as chief weapons type bloke and call for changes to the governments atomic remit, hoping that the power will be used for good instead.

Obviously the military tell him to fuck off which he does, heading back home to ponder the fate of humanity whilst his scarily long-armed daughter Phyllis (TV stalwart Byron -  best known as Natalie Lane in The Patty Duke Show) gazes at him worriedly whilst making coffee.

The 2020 Corona epidemic in a nutshell.

Things soon take a change for the weird tho' when just after Noymann's funeral, an invisible alien takes over his dead body and - after digging its way out of the ground obviously -  visits Dr. Penner at home to inform him that humanity must surrender all its atomic weapons and prepare to be ruled by his fellow aliens, failure to comply will be met by an invading force that will possess the bodies of the dead, set fire to all the community centres, stockpile all the bog roll in Morrison's and kick the bins over.

As if to demonstrate their unearthly powers the alien makes what look like a jacketed spud wrapped in tinfoil appear from nowhere before vanishing into the night.

Obviously unnerved by this strange turn of events Penner nervously tells his daughter what happened before asking the eminent mustache expert Dr. John Lamont (balsa wood like B movie star Hutton, best known - God help him - for Torture Garden) to relay the alien's message to the US government.

It wont come as too much of a surprise when I say that the government ignores the warning whilst the fake news media accuse Penner of spreading some kind of anti-alien project fear.

Undeterred by this reaction Penner persuades Phyllis and Lamont to accompany him to Noymann's grave that very night in the hope of catching one of the aliens wandering about and bizarrely enough this actually works - the alien then helpfully explains everything again before shuffling off into the night.

Cue much stock footage of car and plane crashes as the aliens re-animated a variety of dead folk in order to infiltrate a couple of hockey games in order to announce their invasion plans to the world.

Oh and to also announce that they've just blown up Russia and Denmark.

Which is a unique way of doing it if nothing else.

"I love you....could it be magic?"

With every major sporting event interrupted by the undead threatening violence,  the governments of the world have no choice but to listen and as these evil aliens possess more and more dead bodies and begin to blow up even more random stuff - depending on what disaster footage comes to hand - Drs Penner and Lamont alongside the ever more worried Phyllis are whisked away to a top secret bunker by the heroically handsome Major Jay 'Kay' (Agar from The Mole People) in order to find a way to stop the invasion.

Cue 30 minutes of sweaty lipped science based shenanigans alongside an ill-conceived love triangle 'tween Phyllis, the hunky Jay and cowardly Lamont as our heroes race against time - and acceptable skirt lengths - to find something to counter the alien attack with that doesn't involve a drunken - and naked - game of ping-pong.

The amount of fucks I give about this film.

Whilst in contact with Washington DC - in the form of Grouch Marx ex-missis Eden Hartford in a way too tight air force uniform and the stoic Lt. Gen. Stone (slick-haired Langton from Peyton Place) - Penner deduces that the aliens are highly radioactive and can be tracked using a Geiger counter but still has no idea how to capture one before it can jump out of the dead body it possesses.

Jay suggests that he could lie in wait till the corpse trundles by and furiously masturbate over it, causing the alien to become trapped by the quick drying semen but Phyllis - wanting to keep all that joy juice for herself - has another idea so to this end the fantastic foursome fashion a fast-setting paint gun from a fire extinguisher an old bicycle pump.

But who will test this devastating piece of technology?

Not Lamont that's for sure as he's too busy hiding behind a cupboard whilst lustfully gazing at Phyllis and Penner is way too old to be of any use to anyone which leaves  Major Jay the unenviable task so, suited up in his best bee keepers outfit he heads outside in order to capture one of the invaders.

As in one of the invisible aliens, not an episode of the Quinn Martin/Larry Cohen TV show.**

Hiding behind a convenient rock Jay waits patiently till an alien possessed cadaver stumbles by before jumping out with a "Gotcha!" and firing the sticky liquid all over the startled spaceman.

Unfortunately he's not quick enough and the alien gives him a swift kick to the nads before wandering off leaving Jay battered but ready to fight on.

"Fiona! I'm from Dudley!"

Back at the bunker and with an ice pack clutched to his privates, Jay soon realises that rather than chasing the aliens about in the hope of bagging one, the easiest and quickest way to capture one of the creatures is to dig a big hole, fill it with the acrylic liquid and hope it just falls in.


With the film lurching quickly toward it's climax this plan goes off without a hitch and soon our merry band have the alien confined to a handy pressure chamber ready to break it free from the rock solid acrylic in the hope of finding a weakness.

Alas nothing seems to work which frustrates an already edgy Dr. Lamont to a point where he breaks down in tears and tries to convince everyone to surrender to the alien oppressors but Jay in a rage filled Korean flashback slaps the sniveling scientist causing him to fall clumsily onto the bases radio set,  inadvertently damaging it to a point where the alarms go off.

It's at this point that they notice that the alien is rolling around on the floor clutching its ears and screaming.

No really.

"You'll never get your hands on me lucky charms!"

And with this new - and frankly unbelievable - information the gang frantically start to build a deadly sound gun in order to stop the invaders.

But the underground bunker has been discovered and an army of the undead are determined to break in....

Will Penner, Lamont, Phyllis and Jay complete the weapon in time?

Will Lamont start crying again?

Will we be subjected to any more real-life crash footage that although exciting at the time makes you feel a wee bit guilty when thinking about it later?

And will Eden Hartford ever face the camera?

From the pipe smoking former editor at large cum b-movie maestro Edward L Cahn comes this lo-fi sci-fi shocker that mixes the directors love of pulp science fiction thrills and undead menace - scarily 'tween 1955 and 1959 Cahn made  nine of these scifi shlockers - with a smidgen of atomic age action in a sweaty cauldron of cliched dialogue and ham acting that is as brainless as it is (fairly) entertaining.

Plus at 67 minutes it definitely doesn't outstay its welcome.

Unlike your Auntie Jean over Christmas.

Just because - Eden Hartford.

With its tiny cast of ne'er where's and almost rans, special effects that you'd be hard pushed to call effects let alone special and stoic sub-Plan 9 voice-over - that explains in painful detail almost everything occurring onscreen even as we see it - Invisible Invaders is at once an oddly charming yet instantly forgettable mash-up of the aforementioned Ed Wood classic and Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still as performed by a Methylphenidate soaked junior school drama class for an audience of gin-sodden scarecrows during a particularly offbeat care in the community awareness session that slowly drips into your very being with all the calming effects of a Pentobarbital shot to the eyes.

Seriously by the end of it I not only felt strangely calm and at peace but couldn't stand up and had shit myself.

Tho' that may just be my age.

God bless? - If there's any proof needed that he doesn't exist it's this movie.

Tho' as a plus point it's the only film I've ever seen where dialogue like this:

Phyllis: You killed a man in cold blood this morning, I keep seeing his face.

Jay: So do I, I fought all the way through Korea, probably killed a lot of men... but I never saw their faces. Dropping a bomb from a plane isn't quite so personal.

Penner: Can I make you some coffee?

is actually delivered convincingly.

Which probably says more about me than the movie.

And at the end of the day we can honestly say to all involved:***

Unlike Rian Johnson.

*Or as the end credits actually list him "Carl Noymann" no idea if it's a continuity mistake or twins.

**Because it wasn't broadcast till 1967.

***Not really seeing as they're all dead but you know what I mean.

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