Cast & Crew
Edward L. Cahn
After renowned atomic scientist Dr. Karol Noymann dies in an accidental explosion, longtime friend and colleague Dr. Adam Penner resigns from the U.S. Atomic Commission, convinced that continued atomic testing will escalate the dangerous worldwide arms race. The night after Karol's funeral, Adam is stunned to receive a visit from an apparently revived Karol, who reveals that he is an alien using the dead body to give Earth a vital message. The alien declares that his species has grown so alarmed by the human development of space flight and atomic weapons that they are demanding that worldwide atomic testing cease within twenty-four hours or the planet will be destroyed. Adam expresses skepticism over the aliens' ability to conquer the planet, until the extraterrestrial reveals his species is invisible and will inhabit the bodies of dead humans to kill the living. The alien then leaves and later Adam relates the bizarre visit to his adult daughter Phyllis and fellow scientist Dr. John Lamont. Although the couple is incredulous, Adam pleads with John to tell his story to government officials in Washington, D.C.. The story is met with derision and disbelief by officials and the press, frightening Adam into seeking out the alien to plead for an extension. Although doubtful, Phyllis and John accompany Adam to the cemetery and are stunned when Adam's calls bring forth the voice of the alien, who agrees that Adam's efforts to warn the world have not been effective. Vowing to present a warning that cannot be denied, the alien departs. Soon after, a plane crashes in New York and the body of the dead pilot appears at a well attended sporting event to demand the cessation of atomic testing and Earth's surrender to the aliens. The warning is repeated in California with the dead body of a car crash victim and as panicked news reports spread the threat, the United Nations convenes to discuss a course of action. When the U.N. declares they have no intention of giving in to the aliens, the attack on Earth begins with the aliens inhabiting the bodies of the dead to set off numerous calamities that result in fires, floods and devastation. As the destruction spreads, Adam is reappointed to the Atomic Commission and ordered to assist in defense planning. Air Force major Bruce Jay and John escort Adam and Phyllis to the safety of an underground bunker, designed to shield against atomic attacks. At the bunker, Bruce contacts General Stone, who informs them that the American government has gone into hiding for security purposes, as the aliens have refused to negotiate. Bruce reports that they have had to seal themselves in the bunker at the approach of several walking dead, because the invisible aliens give off high amounts of radioactivity. Despite John's misgivings that he and Adam can help, the scientists begin compiling all the known data on the aliens' behavior. Later, Stone notifies them that the aliens are not employing any special powers to wage their assault, but instead are using Earth's own weapons against itself. Adam is invigorated by this information and decides to focus on making the aliens visible. Adam tells Bruce he needs one of the walking dead to experiment with and explains that he has devised a strong, quick-drying acrylic plastic that may be powerful enough to seal the alien inside the body it inhabits. Bruce then dons the bunker's only radiation protection suit and, going outside, uses a spray gun filled with acrylic plastic on a walking dead, but the spray is too slow and the alien flees the body. The men regroup at the bunker and decide to lure a walking dead into a large pit filled with the acrylic liquid. With Bruce serving as bait to bring out more of the walking dead, the plan succeeds and Bruce and John return to the bunker with the alien encased in the acrylic. Placing the body in a special pressure chamber, the scientists shatter the acrylic shell but are disappointed when the alien quickly departs the body and threatens them over the radio system. Adam and John continue trying various tests with light to make the alien visible, without result. Meanwhile, John grows increasingly anxious as numerous walking dead attempt to break into the bunker and, panicking, attempts to escape. Bruce stops John, and when the ensuing fight inadvertently sets off numerous alarms, Adam notices a violent reaction from within the pressure chamber and surmises that sounds waves may affect the aliens. Bruce and Jay help Adam devise a sound gun, which, when turned on the alien, makes it flee its host body, become visible and die. The scientists try to contact Stone with their results, but realize the aliens are jamming the radio signal. Bruce suggests they use the alien's jamming signal to locate their ship and, upon finding the location, Bruce exposes the ship and destroys it with the sound wave gun. Once the world is rid of the invisible invaders, the U.N. reconvenes and, to Adam's relief, the various nations discuss continuing to work in harmony rather than against one another.
Edward L. Cahn
Herbert S. Greene
Robert E. Kent
Invisible Invaders also bears more than a passing resemblance to Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), the delightfully tacky production that is often voted "worst film ever made." As with most low-budget pictures of its day, cost-cutting measures determined much of the final look of Invisible Invaders. For example, the severe lack of funds obviously influenced the producer's decision to make the aliens invisible, thus avoiding the need for costly special effects, extras, and more sets. And the blending of the science fiction film with the horror genre made good business sense, given that other exploitation films had already done the same (The Blob and I Married a Monster from Outer Space, both 1958). Invisible Invaders gave audiences a double whammy of both, thanks to the expertise of director Edward L. Cahn, who had filmed It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) the previous year.
If you think the final results are wacky, you should have been on the set. While Invisible Invaders co-star Robert Hutton admits he has few memories of the production, he does recall one incident which appears in Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes by Tom Weaver (McFarland Classics): "The thing I do remember about Invaders was a Jeep ride with John Agar - he damn near turned the thing over. We were doing a scene where we were driving up to the cave entrance in Bronson Canyon, and he made one turn where we went up on two wheels - he was a madman! But he was a very nice guy to work with, very quiet and very serious."
Producer: Robert E. Kent
Director: Edward L. Cahn
Screenplay: Samuel Newman
Cinematography: Maury Gertsman
Editor: Grant Whytock
Art Direction: William Glasgow
Music: Paul Dunlap
Cast: John Agar (Major Bruce Jay), Jean Byron (Phyllis Penner), Philip Tonge (Dr. Adam Penner), Robert Hutton (Dr. John Lamont), John Carradine (Dr. Karol Noymann).
by Scott McGee & Jeff Stafford
TCM Remembers - John Agar
Popular b-movie actor John Agar died April 7th at the age of 81. Agar is probably best known as the actor that married Shirley Temple in 1945 but he also appeared alongside John Wayne in several films. Agar soon became a fixture in such films as Tarantula (1955) and The Mole People (1956) and was a cult favorite ever since, something he took in good spirits and seemed to enjoy. In 1972, for instance, the fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland mistakenly ran his obituary, a piece that Agar would later happily autograph.
Agar was born January 31, 1921 in Chicago. He had been a sergeant in the Army Air Corps working as a physical trainer when he was hired in 1945 to escort 16-year-old Shirley Temple to a Hollywood party. Agar apparently knew Temple earlier since his sister was a classmate of Temple's. Despite the objections of Temple's mother the two became a couple and were married shortly after. Temple's producer David Selznick asked Agar if he wanted to act but he reportedly replied that one actor in the family was enough. Nevertheless, Selznick paid for acting lessons and signed Agar to a contract.
Agar's first film was the John Ford-directed Fort Apache (1948) also starring Temple. Agar and Temple also both appeared in Adventure in Baltimore (1949) and had a daughter in 1948 but were divorced the following year. Agar married again in 1951 which lasted until his wife's death in 2000. Agar worked in a string of Westerns and war films such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Breakthrough (1950) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Later when pressed for money he began making the films that would establish his reputation beyond the gossip columns: Revenge of the Creature (1955), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), Invisible Invaders (1959) and the mind-boggling Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966). The roles became progressively smaller so Agar sold insurance and real estate on the side. When he appeared in the 1988 film Miracle Mile his dialogue supposedly included obscenities which Agar had always refused to use. He showed the director a way to do the scene without that language and that's how it was filmed.
By Lang Thompson
DUDLEY MOORE, 1935-2002
Award-winning actor, comedian and musician Dudley Moore died on March 27th at the age of 66. Moore first gained notice in his native England for ground-breaking stage and TV comedy before later building a Hollywood career. Like many of his peers, he had an amiable, open appeal that was balanced against a sharply satiric edge. Moore could play the confused innocent as well as the crafty schemer and tended to command attention wherever he appeared. Among his four marriages were two actresses: Tuesday Weld and Suzy Kendall.
Moore was born April 19, 1935 in London. As a child, he had a club foot later corrected by years of surgery that often left him recuperating in the hospital alongside critically wounded soldiers. Moore attended Oxford where he earned a degree in musical composition and met future collaborators Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. The four formed the landmark comedy ensemble Beyond the Fringe. Though often merely labelled as a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe was instrumental in the marriage of the piercing, highly educated sense of humor cultivated by Oxbridge graduates to the modern mass media. In this case it was the revue stage and television where Beyond the Fringe first assaulted the astonished minds of Britons. Moore supplied the music and such songs as "The Sadder and Wiser Beaver," "Man Bites God" and "One Leg Too Few." (You can pick up a CD set with much of the stage show. Unfortunately for future historians the BBC commonly erased tapes at this period - why? - so many of the TV episodes are apparently gone forever.)
Moore's first feature film was the 1966 farce The Wrong Box (a Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation) but it was his collaboration with Peter Cook on Bedazzled (1967) that's endured. Unlike its tepid 2000 remake, the original Bedazzled is a wolverine-tough satire of mid-60s culture that hasn't aged a bit: viewers are still as likely to be appalled and entertained at the same time. Moore not only co-wrote the story with Cook but composed the score. Moore appeared in a few more films until starring in 10 (1979). Written and directed by Blake Edwards, this amiable comedy featured Moore (a last-minute replacement for George Segal) caught in a middle-aged crisis and proved popular with both audiences and critics. Moore's career took another turn when his role as a wealthy alcoholic who falls for the proverbial shop girl in Arthur (1981) snagged him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor and a Golden Globe win.
However Moore was never able to build on these successes. He starred in a passable remake of Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours (1984), did another Blake Edwards romantic comedy of moderate interest called Micki + Maude (1984, also a Golden Globe winner for Moore), a misfired sequel to Arthur in 1988 and a few other little-seen films. The highlight of this period must certainly be the 1991 series Orchestra where Moore spars with the wonderfully crusty conductor Georg Solti and leads an orchestra of students in what's certainly some of the most delightful television ever made.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - John Agar
The footage of a car crashing into an electrical substation is recycled from the end of Thunder Road (1958).
The film opens and closes with a voice-over narration. John Carradine's character's name, "Karol," was misspelled in the closing credits as "Carl." The film utilized stock footage for many of the alien-caused "disasters."