Invasion Of The Saucer Men, 1957. 4/10

The cartoonish credits are a not so subtle hint that we’re in for something different “I’ll be square with you” says the narrator, meaning that we’re getting the ‘true’ version of events.

The spacecraft, obviously a model, is unique. Presumably our saucermen went through their late ’50s vehicular styling phase too, complete with bubbletops, jet-pods, fins, etc.

The aliens are fairly hideous–the severed hand is creepy and effective. But Larkin’s house seems more of a horror setting–complete with a dark and stormy night. In a short movie that’s already short on plot, the Farmer Larkin (Raymond Hatton) scenes just take up too much time.

Another problem is that there’s two sets of main characters: friends Joe (Frank Gorshin) and Artie (Lyn Osborn) and the couple Johnny (Steven Terrell) and Joan (Gloria Castillo). At least Joe’s murder ties the two groups together; the alien ‘frame-up’ nonetheless doesn’t prevent the ‘suspects’ from getting away rather too easily. Meanwhile, we finally get back to the spacecraft. The Air Force guys should’ve talked to the Pentagon before breaking out the torches–messing with a spacecraft is never a good idea.

The crawling hand really ‘makes the scene’, dripping with its boozy venom, creeping up on Joan… Every time the aliens appear the movie ramps up a few notches; but there’s just too much filler and subplot, and not enough aliens. Even the cow/alien battle is pretty cool. The aliens aversion to light is discovered by chance, which is a better device than trying a multitude of weapons.

The last part is suspenseful, as the three survivors (down temporarily to just the couple) lose the advantage of their light sources, as the aliens close in on them. ‘The gang’ at Lover’s Point, duly enlisted into a posse, converges on the aliens with their high-beams. Those poor saucermen, all four of them, conveniently gather in a huddle and squeal like rodents as they go up in smoke.

I remember Invasion Of The Saucer Men from its first TV showings in the early ’60s. I should say I remember the aliens, with their creepy alcohol venom, and, especially, the crawling hand. Also, the suspenseful stuff, the fading spotlight, and the aliens ambushed by ‘ the gang’ in the meadow. Good thing I didn’t waste many brain cells on the rest of the scenes; they’re just not memorable.

I think the genuine sci-fi aspects completely overshadow the comic element. The combination of teen culture and science-fiction is inherently a bit absurd; it doesn’t need explicit humor. The ‘crazy-mixed-up-kids’ backdrop, if done right, adds a level of conflict (teens v. adult establishment, with consequent disharmony), as well as period authenticity.

Other efforts such as The Blob (also from 1957) use similar material much more successfully. Invasion Of The Saucer Men is entertaining in spots, just not very interesting overall. 4/10.

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