Cinema Sunday: Invisible Invaders (1959)


Title: Invisible Invaders

Distributor: United Artists

Writer: Samuel Newman

Director: Edward L. Cahn

Producer: Robert E. Kent

Starring: John Agar, John Carradine, Jean Byron

Released: May 15th, 1959



Another Sunday, and another sci-fi flick! This classic from 1959, stars the awesome John Agar, and if that wasn’t enough, we get another titan from the sci-fi/horror industry in John Carradine, as well! Both of these men had extensive careers in the film industry (especially Carradine), and have some fantastic credits on their filmography lists. During this decade, the explosion of “alien” films was crazy, and some are just terrible. Most didn’t have the luxury of having big names like these two, so it made the films seem bad because we know the budget for special effects wasn’t going to wow anybody. Alright, enough about that already, let’s get down to the movie!



The film begins with an experiment gone wrong, and the person that loses his life, is Dr. Karol Noyman (John Carradine – image above). The scene turns to Dr. Penner (Philip Tonge) discusses the accident with officials at the Pentagon. He wants to stop using nuclear tests for science. The Pentagon scoffs at him, and tells him it will continue. Penner leaves, and then gets a visit later that night at home. The dead Dr. Noyman comes for a visit, and tells him that he’s actually an alien invader that has reanimated the corpse of Dr. Noyman, and that the Earth must submit, or there will be a war. He also informs the good doctor that their ships are invisible, so the military will have no chance of stopping them. He even gives him a demonstration of the material that they use for the ships, and it is indeed invisible. Penner tells him that they won’t listen to him, but the alien tells him he’d better find a way or else! Then he exits the house.



Even later that evening, Penner’s daughter, Phyllis (Jean Byron) and her date, Dr. John Lamont (Robert Hutton) return home. Her father explains what has happened, but they think he’s had a nervous breakdown. He insists it happened, and begs Dr. Lamont to go to Washington D.C. and tell them of the impending doom. Dr. Lamont begrudgingly agrees to tell them, but we soon see newspaper headlines that make him out to be a kook. Dr. Penner is watching the clock, and wondering when the aliens will attack. He then prays to God, begging that this experience was all a dream. Dr. Lamont and Phyllis return, and give him the bad news. Dr. Lamont is kind of wiener about the situation, but soon, he’ll be a believer.

Dr. Lamont suggests that they try to contact the aliens and ask for more time. The all agree to head over to the cemetery and seek out the aliens inhabiting the corpses. Dr. Penner calls out to the aliens, and suddenly, they hear a growling noise. Something pushes its way through the brush, and then makes tracks in the soil. It’s at this time, that Phyllis and Dr. Lamont become believers. The alien then speaks to him, and he tells the alien that he failed and that no one will listen. He begs to get more time to try again, but the aliens refuse, and tell him that they will give one more warning to the people of Earth. The three of them realize they can do nothing to stop this, so they head for home.



The aliens then inhabit the body of a pilot who crashed his plane. He heads to a hockey game (don’t ask), and knocks out the announcers, and gets on the mic, and warns them of their impending doom. The people scatter like a bunch of ants. The alien then leaves the body of the corpse, and opens the door, leaving the room. The announcers wake up and are stunned to see this going on. Over in California, a car accident victim is possessed, and heads over to a large stadium and makes the same ominous warning. Again, people run away, and head for the hills!



Shortly thereafter, the aliens begin their invasion. They destroy bridges and roads, buildings and everything else in their path. They also start to possess every dead person on Earth. More people are killed in the chaos, and police cannot control the mobs that are going berserk. Washington D.C. then breaks into the news coverage, and tells everyone that Dr. Penner has agreed to rejoin the nuke project, and Major Bruce Jay (John Agar), is assigned to bring him in to the underground bunker. While on their way, a man with a shotgun holds them up, and attempts to steal their jeep. There are aliens (zombies) everywhere, and the man wants out. The next thing you know, something is stirring in the bushes nearby, and the man is distracted. Major Jay uses this opportunity to shoot the man in the head, killing him instantly. An alien then sneaks over and possesses the man.



Once they get to the bunker, Dr. Penner, Major Jay, and Dr. Lamont, head over to the lab, and begin to try to formulate a plan. The outside world is being decimated, corpse after corpse is being inhabited, and it looks as if there is no hope for humanity. Can this small group somehow find a way to stop the alien invasion? Watch it and find out!




OK, here are my thoughts:

This is one of those movies that any fan of the genre must see. No excuses, get out and grab or stream it on Netflix. Carradine is creepy as a zombie, and Tonge is quite good as well. Of course, you get an awesome “tough guy” from John Agar, and you can really see why he fits this mold very well. He’s a great action hero for this time period, and really commands the scenes that he appears in during the film. Of course the nuclear angle is something used HEAVILY in this time period, but it doesn’t detract from the cool factor of this flick.

The shots of the destruction are pretty cool, but the ones of the people running around are quite cheesy, and are most likely stock footage of something completely unrelated. Other than that, the film is pretty solid, and is a good representation of the time/genre. The revelation of what the invisible aliens actually look like is pretty cool too, and as I said before, the special effects obviously didn’t consume a good chunk of the budget, but they were good nonetheless. I try to imagine some of these older films in color, but honestly, this one is perfect in black and white. This is a must watch for movie fans of the genre, plain and simple.


Click here for the trailer!



Cinema Sunday: Shock Waves (1977)


Title: Shock Waves

Distributor: Blue Underground

Writers: Ken Wiederhorn & John Kent Harrison

Director: Ken Wiederhorn

Producer: Reuben Trane

Starring: Peter Cushing, John Carradine, Brooke Adams, Fred Buch, Luke Halpin

Released: July 15th, 1977


At last, Cinema Sunday has returned! After being on vacation and spending time at the beaches of Delaware, and then some time in New York City, I’ve returned to offer a look at a strange film from 1977, starring the one and only, Peter Cushing! This Nazi-zombie movie is quite intriguing, and offers some different perspectives on the genre (or sub-genre) that are interesting indeed. Well, instead of prattling on, I’ll just get right down to¬† the plot…

The film opens showing a picture of a Nazi platoon, and a voice telling us that during WWII, the Nazis experimented on their soldiers, while alive, but in this case, and more importantly, even after they died. The voice then tells us that Allied soldiers ran into a Nazi platoon that fought bare handed and killed mercilessly. As the war raged on, most of the Nazi soldiers were either killed or captured. None of the members of this platoon however, were ever seen again.


As the action begins, we see a ship, and it comes upon a small boat, drifting along the ocean. As they look inside, they find a woman, Rose (Brooke Adams), who’s obviously been through a traumatic experience. The men beg her to tell them what has happened, and then she mentally recounts the previous few days. We see that she was a passenger on some sort of charter/dive boat, and that the boat had broken down near a small island. The captain (John Carradine) barks at his first mate, Keith (Luke Halpin), and tells him what direction to head out. As the boat is making its way through the waves, suddenly, it passes over a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean. The waves get higher, and the sun turns blood-red. The captain and Keith are spooked, and so is Rose (who’s been tanning on the deck).


The scene switches to nightfall, and we see a couple, Norman and Beverly (Jack Davidson & D.J. Sidney), arguing about this “cruise” they’re on. Another passenger, Chuck (Fred Buch), joins the argument, and the ship’s cook, Dobbs (Don Stout) throws in his two cents. As they all sit down for dinner, the captain notices that the passengers aren’t exactly having a good time. Norman voices his displeasure with the condition of the vessel, and about the comments that Dobbs has made. The captain tells them that Dobbs is full of it, and that there’s nothing that happens that cannot be logically explained. Norman also thinks the ship should turn back, but the captain refuses. Later that night, Rose hits on Keith, and then there seems to be something else afoot, something sinister. All of a sudden, a ship appears, and slams into the side of the vessel. The passengers and crew come to the top deck, and the captain scolds them, and tells them to go back to their cabins. The captain doesn’t believe Keith, but then fires a flare out in the direction of the ship, and sees it for himself!


The next morning, Keith and Dobbs are looking for the captain, but cannot find him anywhere on the ship. Keith dives into the water, thinking he may have gone for a dive to check out the bottom of the ship, but he doesn’t find anything. The decision is then made to head over to the island, and look for him there. Keith also informs the passengers that the hull has been breached, so they must go to the island in fear of sinking. Dobbs searches for the captain, but cannot find him anywhere. The small boat that they are using can only transport two at a time (plus Keith, who’s oaring), so they have to make multiple trips. When Keith is taking Norman and Beverly over, Beverly notices something when she looks at the bottom of the boat (it’s a glass bottom boat). It’s the captain, and he’s as dead as Julius Caesar, floating under the surface of the water. They drag him to shore, and then explore the island.

As they explore this creepy island, they come upon a huge residence, that seems to be empty. Out at sea, there’s activity at the “ghost ship”, and we then see some ghastly creatures walking along the bottom of the ocean. They begin to make their way toward the island. As they look around it, suddenly music begins to play, and they make there way to the room where it is coming from. Just then, a voice rings out, asking them why they are here. They explain that they hit a wrecked ship out at sea, and need help. The person reveals himself to them (Peter Cushing), and explains that he’s been alone their for a long time. He asks them about the ship out at sea, and they tell him it’s old and rusted. The man then disappears, and we see him on the beach, checking out the ship for himself. We also see one of the zombies going back into the ocean.


The passengers have made themselves at home in the old hotel, and bed down for the night. We then see dozens of the zombies arise from the sea, and they begin to make their way to the island. The next morning, Dobbs is cranky, but agrees to go to the ship for some food. He only makes it about halfway, before he’s assaulted by some of the zombies. They drag him under the water and kill him. Back at the hotel, the passengers finally run into the old man who spoke to them earlier. They ask for his help in getting out, but he tells them about a small boat that they can use, but they must leave tonight, because there is trouble. We then get the obligatory scene of Rose swimming around in her bikini (not that I’m complaining), and swims right into the corpse of Dobbs.


She’s shaken up, and the others find a Nazi symbol in Dobbs’ hand, and then they see two of the zombies from far away, and get out of there immediately. They return to the hotel to question the old man about Dobbs. The old man explains to them that he is inadvertently responsible for the deaths of the captain and Dobbs. He explains to them about the Nazi soldier program to create these zombie soldiers or “Death Corps”, and they are a bloodthirsty bunch that has come to kill everyone in their path. He then also reveals that he sunk the ship intentionally, hoping to kill them. They don’t believe him at first, and then he tells them that they must leave.


Meanwhile, outside the jungle, the zombies are making their way to the interior of the island for some more killing. Keith and the two women go and find the boat that the old Nazi told them about. Speaking of the old man, he sees his “soldiers”, and calls out to them, attempting to stop them from killing the others. At the same time, Norman and Chuck are getting as much supplies as they can bring. One of the zombies has targeted the old man, and he kills him brutally, leaving the passengers without anymore help. One by one, the zombies target the passengers, and most if not all wont survive!

OK, here we go:

Listen, this is a solid film, and really good for the budget (app. $200,000), but didn’t do very well at the box office for some reason. The film was reportedly shot over a period of thirty-five days, and you can kind of tell when you watch it. Again, a low-budget usually means tight scheduling, but to reiterate, it’s a very solid film. You get some decent acting from John Carradine, and also from Luke Halpin. Cushing does a great job too, but he really has very few scenes in the film. I’d guess that he only has about 20 minutes of screen time (the movie is around 90 minutes).

The shots out at sea are pretty cool, but undoubtedly the best parts are those of the zombies. They aren’t too heavy with the make-up or special effects (again, low-budget), but they are still super creepy, and really give you the willies when they attack or even just rise out of the water. I’m glad I checked this one out, and anybody out there that’s a fan of Cushing, or the zombie genre, needs to see this one pronto! Heck, anybody looking for an hour and a half to kill that likes horror flicks should check it out for kicks!