When atomic scientist Dr Noyman (John Carradine) is killed in an accidental explosion, his associate Dr Penner (Philip Tonge) is surprised to receive a visit from him the night after his funeral. But it's not Dr Noyman at all, it's his re-animated corpse, possessed by an invisible alien who tells Dr Penner to warn the world that the invisible invaders will soon conquer Earth from their base on the moon. Will anyone believe the doctor before the aliens' deadline is up in twenty four hours?
A noticeably low budget science fiction chiller, this was scripted by Samuel Newman, and starts with a sincere plea against the testing of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in general. However, it cuts to the chase pretty quickly (it's just over an hour long, after all) when Penner's message about aliens is ridiculed by the world at large, which makes a nice change from the usual overage teenagers being disbelieved in the face of an extraterrestrial threat.
Then things really hot up courtesy of an abundance of stock footage. The aliens take over the corpse of a crashed pilot, who interrupts an ice hockey game by announcing over the tannoy that we Earthlings are doomed ("People of Earth..."). For some reason this is judged more believable than Dr Penner's warning and it's not long before we see footage of bridges collapsing, fires raging out of control and buildings demolished, all with a deadly serious voiceover to underline that newsreel tone.
John Agar fans should be warned that he doesn't show up until about 25 minutes in, and John Carradine fans will be disappointed that he only appears for about five minutes. When the doctor, his daughter and his assistant retreat to a bunker in the countryside with soldier Agar, you can see why comparisons have been made between Night of the Living Dead and this effort. The four desperately battle to find a way of controlling the menace of walking corpses which lay siege to their hideout, and argue all the while about their plans.
Unlike the George A. Romero horror, the arguing here eventually produces a solution. The military, represented by Agar, and the scientists, represented by Penner, have to work together, which ties in with the theme of opposing parties, whether they be individuals or whole countries, putting aside their differences for the good of mankind. And to kick the arses of alien invaders (who are shown either as footprints shuffling through the dirt or foliage being parted). Good fun all round, and with a few unintentional laughs to boot. I wonder if Edward D. Wood Jr had this kind of thing in mind when he created Plan 9? Music by Paul Dunlap.
Hugely prolific, underrrated American director specialising in crime and sci-fi, who turned in some 120 B-movies over 30 years. Cahn began directing for Universal in 1930, and over the next two decades worked at most of the major studios, turning in films like Emergency Call, Main Street After Dark and I Cheated the Law.
In 1956, his efficient, economic style led him to Samuel Z. Arkoff’s American International Pictures where he turned in his best films, such as The She Creature, Invasion of the Saucer Men, Invisible Invaders and It! The Terror from Beyond Space (the latter two big influences on Night of the Living Dead and Alien).