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A young boy learns that space aliens are taking over the minds of earthlings.
Early one morning, young David MacLean, who loves science and astronomy, is awakened by a strange sound and sees a glowing, saucer-shaped object float down from the sky and bury itself in the sand pit behind his house. Frightened, David wakes up his mother Mary and father George, who is an engineer at a nearby scientific plant, and George, concerned by the usually level-headed David's hysteria, decides to investigate. Several hours later, while Mary prepares breakfast, she realizes that George has not returned and calls the police. Officers Jackson and Blaine answer her call, and when they search the sand pit, both are sucked below the sand's surface. Soon after, a glassy-eyed, perspiring George returns to the house. Mary and David are baffled by George's surly demeanor, and when David questions George about a small wound on the back of his neck, George uncharacteristically hits his son. The two policemen are also in an altered state when they appear suddenly, and soon after they leave, David spies on the area through his telescope and sees his neighbor, young Kathy Wilson, disappear into the ground. While George takes Mary to the sand pit, David dashes to the Wilson home, where he tells Mrs. Wilson that Kathy has disappeared. Mrs. Wilson is horrified, but Kathy suddenly arrives, although she, too, acts strangely. Mrs. Wilson is chastising David for scaring her when she smells smoke, and they discover that a fire has mysteriously started in the cellar. Kathy denies setting the blaze but smiles as David runs off. Eventually David goes to the police station, where he tells Chief Barrows his story. Barrows refuses to believe David and orders Sgt. Finley to detain him until his parents can collect him. The sympathetic sergeant calls in Dr. Pat Blake to examine the boy, and after ascertaining that Pat's neck is free from any injury, David tells her his story. Pat's curiosity is piqued, and when she sees how terrified David is by George and Mary's arrival, she tells them that he might be suffering from polio and is under her care. The couple reluctantly leave their son, and Pat takes him to see astronomer Stuart Kelston, a mutual friend. Stuart takes David seriously and informs them that prominent scientists have theorized that Martians, who live either underground on Mars or in giant spaceships, have manufactured synthetic humans called Mutax. Stuart speculates that Martians have come to Earth because George and Kathy's father, Dr. William Wilson, among others, have constructed a rocket that will eventually pave the way for a devastating weapon, both offensive and defensive, that could control the solar system. Stuart postulates that the Martians will attempt to destroy the rocket, and alerts Col. Fielding at a nearby military installation. Fielding notifies the Pentagon, and soon massive numbers of men and tanks begin to mobilize toward David's small town. Meanwhile, both Chief Barrows and Gen. Mayberry have been transformed by the Martians, and Stuart, Fielding, Pat and David question Turner, the Wilsons' next-door neighbor, about Kathy's sudden death. Concerned about the coroner's diagnosis of cerebral hemorrhage, Pat goes to the morgue to examine the body, while Capt. Roth, the military's electronics expert, speculates that the spaceship was able to tunnel underground with a radioactive ray that could melt the earth. Fielding's aide, Sgt. Rinaldi, foolishly explores the expanding sand pit and is sucked underground, after which Pat returns and shows the group a tiny device that was implanted at the base of Kathy's skull. Roth deduces that it is a controlling device, activated by high-frequency oscillation, and that when the human victims have carried out the Martians' orders, the device explodes, killing its host. Realizing the danger his parents are in, David grows depressed, especially when news arrives that Johnson and Blaine sabotaged the plant in which George works but died before they could be questioned. Mayberry and Barrows then attempt to blow up the rocket, but are killed by MPs before they can complete their mission, while George and Mary are captured during their attempt to assassinate Dr. Wilson. As they stand near the sand pit, Pat tells David that his parents have been rushed to the hospital and will soon be operated on, but suddenly they are sucked below ground by the Mutax, who have created a vast network of tunnels under the sand pit. Two of the Mutax take them to one of the Martians, an eerie being with a large head and a shrunken, tentacled body. The Martian, who communicates telepathically, questions Pat and David through Rinaldi, who explains that the Martian is "mankind developed to its ultimate intelligence." When Pat refuses to cooperate, the Mutax place her on an operating table in order to implant a control device in her neck, while Rinaldi carries off the struggling David. Above ground, Roth manages to locate the Martian's position, and the Army blasts an opening through to the tunnels. Led by Fielding and Stuart, the men find the spaceship and, battling the zombie-like Mutax, rescue Pat. The men then locate David and Rinaldi, while Fielding and Roth construct a bomb inside the spaceship. After setting the detonator for six minutes, they seal off the entrance to the spaceship with a grenade. Although the Mutax had similarly sealed off the group's escape route from the cave, David uses one of the ray guns to break through the rubble and soon they all scramble upwards. As David runs away, he remembers the events leading up to the blast, which rocks the earth as the spaceship tries to take off. The noise, which turns out to be a thunder and lightning storm, wakes up David, who had dreamed the whole adventure. David seeks comfort from his parents, who are perfectly normal, but after he returns to bed, he is once again awoken by a strange light in the sky as a spaceship lands behind the house.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in Detroit, MI: 9 Apr 1953; New York opening: 29 May 1953|
|Release Date:||1953||Production Date:||
An Edward L. Alperson Production
AFI Library; EB; AFI*
|Color/B&W:||Color (Cinecolor)||Distributions Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||National Pictures Corp.|
|Duration(mins):||77-78 or 80||Country:||United States|
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