Romero was taking notes
Edward L. Cahn‘s hokey, disjointed horror/sci-fi hybrid is one of those “People of Earth!” movies that were everywhere in the ’50s. Meaning, at certain points in the film, aliens from outer space will commandeer a microphone — it happens at a hockey game, for instance — and bellow, “People of Earth!” Then they’ll make some threat, or some pronouncement about how humans are f***ing up the universe. And then everyone in the stadium will just believe what they hear and panic, rather than chalk it up to a prank by the janitor.
It’s also one of those “stock footage” movies. Cahn raids the vaults to tell much of his story. Ed Wood must have been jealous.
“Invisible Invaders” is a pretty terrible film, but it has two redeeming factors. One is the participation of John Carradine. He’s not in it much, and what we see of him is hardly fleshed out. We never really “meet” his character, a scientist named “Dr. Karol Noymann.” We just see him for a split-second before he is blown to bits in a lab explosion. Then we see him resurrected as a talking zombie. (Somehow, his obliterated corpse has regenerated.) That’s about it. But, hey, it’s John Carradine, the guy who played Dracula with a top hat.
Another redeeming quality is its armies of zombies with outstretched arms and “deterioration” makeup. They’re lumbering at good old Bronson Canyon, the site of many westerns and “Robot Monster.” The zombies look just like what George A. Romero did nine years later. (I should clarify that they’re zombies “of a kind,” because actually, they’re human corpses possessed by aliens from outer space.)
“Invaders” is such a mess that star-billed John Agar doesn’t show up for the longest time, leading you to wonder, “Didn’t I see John Agar’s name in the credits?” When he does show up, it is, to put it mildly, unceremonious. There’s no introduction, no closeup, no “lube” of any sort. He’s just driving a Jeep in long shot, leading you to wonder, “Is that John Agar driving the Jeep?”
Throughout the film, Agar acts like John Wayne (with whom he’d previously worked in three movies, but not since ’49). He gets in a fight with Robert Hutton (who, four years later, directed himself in “The Slime People,” another stinker). Agar hits on Jean Byron, the mom on “The Patty Duke Show.” Her hair is so bleached, it looks white. Her skin is pale. Her demeanor is blank. She’s like a ghost. But pretty.
The voice of reason — the elderly scientist who sounds the alarm about the alien threat — is played by Philip Tonge, a Brit remembered by Christmas freaks as Maureen O’Hara‘s co-conspirator in “Miracle on 34th Street.” Tonge made one more film after this. At least “Invisible Invaders” wasn’t his swan song. Or he might have come back, like “Dr. Karol Noymann.”
Starring John Agar as Maj. Bruce Jay; Jean Byron as Phyliss Penner; Philip Tonge as Dr. Adam Penner; Robert Hutton as Dr. John Lamont; and John Carradine as Dr. Karol Noymann
Written by Samuel Newman | Cinematography by Maury Gertsman
Produced by Robert E. Kent | Directed by Edward L. Cahn