Kino Lorber Blu-ray Gives Us Invisible Aliens, Invisible Budget
DIRECTED BY EDWARD L. CAHN/1959
STREET DATE: July 12, 2016/KINO LORBER
While watching Invisible Invaders, the obvious question is why would anyone go to the trouble of presenting a movie like this on Blu-ray, as Kino Lorber has done for us here? The opening credits, flat white letters on a static, stars-in-space background and the ramped-up theremin score tell us all we should expect from this run-of-the-mill ’50s sci-fi alien invasion movie, right? Indeed, as one progresses through the movie, anemic as it is in virtually every way, one is only impressed by how much of a perfectly cheap and muddy amalgam of The Day the Earth Stood Still and Plan 9 From Outer Space it is: an alien dignitary is sent to warn a prominent scientist that the Earth is doomed, not due to its own present course of atomic self-destruction, but because the aliens plan to just go ahead and take over so get ready, and then uses the bodies of the recently dead to do their dirty work for them – you see, these aliens are invisible to human eyes, so to pose any sort of threat, they’d need to be seen, thus Uncle Phil rises again with mussed hair and googly eyes.
By 1959, the cycle of close encounter movies of this kind had run its course, but like the dead lumbering about in Invisible Invaders, Hollywood was not above taking a bicycle pump to tropes well past their bury-by date. Still we’re left to wonder, why the re-issue? Lucky for us, Kino Lorber itself seems aware that this particular specimen isn’t worth too much more than a torn bijou ticket. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have included a commentary track featuring a man, sci-fi and horror film historian Tom Weaver, whose first comments deride the film as “at the top of the underachievers list” and that his job for the next hour or so is to “try to find good things to say about it.” To Weaver’s credit, his commentary, while essentially a smack-down, is also a trove of details about all those involved, even if ever so disinterestedly, and couched in a tone that’s at once authoritative and dismissive. It puts the movie in its place, while giving us a reason to watch it.
But Kino Lorber must know there’s a market for this sort of thing, too. The movie may be bad, but it’s not any less a historically salient example, perhaps even a pure example, of the common concerns of 1959. When you look at other movies of the day that traded in fear, alienation, the “other”, war – movies as disparate as North by Northwest, On the Beach, The 400 Blows – you see the engrained sense that individual control has been ceded to reckless, uncaring, sometimes even unseen authority. Invisible Invaders may not be Hitchcock, Kramer, or Truffaut, but it’s perfectly aligned with the zeitgeist that made their movies resonate, and for its myriad underfed attempts at actual suspense or, you know, storytelling, it can still hold its own in the “here’s what’s wrong with us” department.
The images in this review are not representative of the actual Blu-ray’s image quality, and are included only to represent the film itself.