Edward L. Cahn (1899-1963) was one of those unsung Hollywood minions who had long careers. Beginning as an editor in the waning days of the silent era, Cahn steadily worked his way up to director, helming 26 of MGM’s later Our Gang shorts. Moving from the majors to the seedy world of low-budget filmmaking, Cahn’s feature film output found him at poverty stricken studios like PRC and for a number of years American International Pictures. He worked mainly in the science-fiction realm, but labored on everything from teen delinquency pics (DRAGSTRIP GIRL) to war dramas (SUICIDE BATTALION) to westerns (FLESH AND THE SPUR) and noir (WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES). Cahn’s features were interesting. Not very good mind you, but interesting.
INVISIBLE INVADERS is a interesting one, in a car wreck sort of way. Atomic radiation from mankind’s nuclear testing has filtered into outer space. The late Dr. Karol Noyman’s corpse (veteran boogieman John Carradine) has been reanimated by an invisible alien from the moon (!) and sent to give his former colleague Dr. Penner a warning: all nations on Earth must surrender or the aliens will take over dead bodies and annihilate the world! Penner’s daughter Phyllis and associate Dr. Lamont are supportive, but the press has a field day scoffing at the old scientist. When the alien zombies go on a destructive, stock footage filled rampage, they start taking the old duffer seriously.
Army Major Bruce Jay is sent to whisk Penner and company to a secret atomic lab. There, the scientists work diligently to figure out a way to stop the zombie invasion. It’s learned that by disrupting the alien’s molecular structure with high pitched sound waves, they leave their host bodies and die. Building a sonic ray gun (and how they built it so fast is beyond me), they successfully knock off a horde of the marauding monsters. Our heroes have the zombie cure and save the world from certain death.
Whew! I laughed out loud at some of the ridiculous situations presented in INVISIBLE INVADERS. The phony special effects and shoddy props would make Ed Wood proud. The cast tries, but are defeated by the ludicrous dialogue forced on them. John Agar (Maj.Jay) starred in way too many of these Grade Z schlockfests to mention here. Agar is clearly trying to emulate his former co-star John Wayne in this one, but falls far short of the mark. Pretty Jean Byron (Phyllis) had much more success as the mom in the mid-60s sitcom THE PATTY DUKE SHOW. Robert Hutton (Lamont) was a Hollywood also-ran who’s career never took off. He later starred in another low-budget masterpiece, 1967’s THEY CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (which I’ll get around to reviewing sooner or later). And Carradine is totally wasted in a role he could play in his sleep…and in this turkey. it looks like he did!
Despite it all, I still liked INVISIBLE INVADERS. As a connoisseur of bad movies, I thought it was fun in a dopey kind of way. If you’re a fan of stuff like PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE, BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS, or a die-hard John Agar fan, you’ll enjoy INVISIBLE INVADERS. I did (guess there’s just no accounting for good taste!)