Invasion of the Saucer Men
Creeping horror... from the depths of time and space!
Year of Release: 1957
Also Known As: Invasion of the Hell Creatures
Genre: Science Fiction/Comedy
Running Time: 69 minutes (1:09)
Director: Edward L. Cahn
Steven Terrell ... Johnny Carter
Gloria Castillo ... Joan Hayden
Frank Gorshin ... Joe Gruen
Lyn Osborn ... Artie Burns
Raymond Hatton ... Farmer Larkin
Douglas Henderson ... Lt. Wilkins, USAF
Sam Buffington ... Col. Ambrose - USAF
Angelo Rossitto ... Saucer Man
Floyd Hugh Dixon ... Saucer Man
Dean Neville ... Saucer Man
Edward Gibbons ... Saucer Man
Paul Blaisdell ... Saucer Man (uncredited)
Bob Burns ... Saucer Man (uncredited)
Johnny Carter and Joan Hayden are getting married - even if they have to elope. But their wedding night turns into a fright night when a flying saucer lands in the clearing on Old Man Larkin's property - and Johnny accidentally runs down one of its extraterrestrial passengers on the road to Lover's Point. Johnny tries to get help, but the police only laugh at his reports of little green monsters - suggesting he lay off the bottle. But when they find the body of a young drifter under the wheels of Johnny's car, no one's laughing - and Johnny finds himself framed for hit-and-run homicide.
After escaping from police, the young couple returns to the scene of the accident - looking for evidence of the alien invasion to prove Johnny's innocence. There they confront the sobering truth of the driver's death at the hands of the venomous invaders - whose needle-claws inject an intoxicating but deadly dose of alcohol. Meanwhile a top-secret military team works through the night to destroy the saucer and cover all traces of the UFO.
Johnny and Joan race to discover the one weapon against which the aliens have no defense - and enlist the help of their teenaged friends to destroy the saucermen in the final battle of this unearthly screamer.
Invasion of the Saucer Men, beggin' the question: if humans dripped booze from their fingernails like the titular veiny outer space cabbages in the flick, how much would bars hafta increase their cover charges? Obviously bars wouldn't just disappear cause people stopped buyin' hooch, after all, the true purpose of bars is to shoot your mouth off and/or locate someone as desperate as you who'll let you lick their beaters... so I'm thinkin' $30? Actually, it may hafta go as high as $50, cause they'd need additional bouncers armed with meat cleavers to make sure everybody who's had enough gets cut off before they start doin' disgustin' things with the pool cues or throwin' up in the video poker payout trough.
An speakin' of payin' the piper, every year on tax day I gotta drive over to Furry Mountain Stuffing to remind Cleave Furguson what day it is an watch 'im get this look on his face like he's just gotten a whiff of somethin' awful comin' from the dryer an realized he ain't seen his cat for a coupla days. Cleave was in the middle of removin' some mule deer eyeballs with a corkscrew when I showed up, but every year things happen exactly the same way; approximately three seconds after I remind 'im about his taxes he starts ramblin' incoherently about where he's gonna hide his business assets, an lookin' around feverishly for some lumber to spray paint the word "abandoned" on so he can tack it across the front door. That's usually about as far as I let 'im go before stickin' one of his scalpels into the pencil sharpener so he'll shut up long enough for me to get 'im an appointment to see Merle Wilcox. Merle used to work at Stingy's Conservative Tax Preparation & Transistor Radio Repair until he got caught helpin' blue-haired widows claim their half dozen cats as dependents an hadda move out to Sumac Ridge to avoid prosecution, an now the poor guy hasta sneak into town dressed like a 42nd Street porno theater patron once a month just to buy groceries. So we hopped in the Topaz an peeled outta there so there'd be enough daylight left to avoid alla Merle's spring traps on the trail to his cabin an... well, I'ma just come out an say this; Cleave dunno a deduction from liposuction, an by the time Merle was done with his calculations, Cleave was freakin' out like a Rhesus monkey on acid. Took Merle about two hours to calm 'im down an explain that once you crack the $25,000 threshold the feds really start stickin' it to ya on account of the rest of the country dependin' upon you to foot the bill for all the women who live in shoes an never mastered the art of birth control, an to help the Koch brothers save up enough money to buy New Zealand. Once Merle'd put it to 'im that way he started to settle down a little an finally agreed to pay the full $28.50. I still hadda remind 'im on the drive home that without his contribution the system wouldn't work, an that our schools'd be churnin' out a buncha kids who fish usin' nothin' but Powerbait an try gettin' into college on Mumbletypeg scholarships. A lotta people never seem to realize that this's the price we've all gotta pay for livin' in polite society. I forget what happened after that, cause about that time I hit this pot hole the size of a toilet seat an banged my head on the roof of the Topaz, but the point is... uh, guess I forgot that too. Ah well, I'm sure everybody understands what I was sayin'.
It don't really matter none though, cause this week we got Invasion of the Saucer Men, which is an easy to understand movie even for people whose friends think it's real funny to make 'em ride in the truck bed on campin' trips an take the Jeep trail at 45mph to see how many times they can crack the guy's head open on the wheel wells. This one's a little different from most 1950s science fiction flicks though, cause they don't try to fill it up with a buncha pseudo-science an sappy philosophy, so try to pay attention while I impart unto you a few of the brilliant kernels of wisdom this flick has to offer. First, police sirens were a lot quieter back in the '50s. This is why they had such lower crime rates back then, cause nobody ever realized the cops were comin' until the police cruiser'd already lodged its hood ornament up their keisters. Second, there's a fine line when it comes to booby trappin' your spaceship. So always make sure to use alloys that're strong enough to withstand entry into a planet's atmosphere, but not so strong that they can stand up to the heat of a blow torch. The slightest miscalculation can result in Air Force personnel pawin' around in your glove box an swipin' your favorite mix tapes. An third, never drink with cattle. They just won't listen when you try tellin' 'em they're too drunk to walk home, an you've gotta fill up all four of their stomachs just to get 'em buzzed anyhow. It's basically like tryin' to win a drinkin' contest against Norm Peterson; the only way to win is not to play.
But I've seen so many '50s flicks that all have this one thing in common, so I'd really like an answer to the following question: what's the appeal of a communal makeout spot? Seriously, I've never understood this. I mean, think about it, do you really wanna see/hear your drunk friends doin' the backseat boogaloo? Probably not. Did the thought of that make you throw up a little bit? Good. That's healthy. Now, why would you think that your buddies wanna see YOU testin' out the spill resistant seat covers in your Chevy Nova? Probably never even thought about it before now, did you? That's okay, ain't none of us perfect. So, why do people congregate to fornicate? Do they like the idea of an orgy, but get a little weirded out by not knowin' whose hand is touchin' 'em? Is it possible that they do it as an insurance policy in case their dates aren't willin' to let 'em sample their meat platters? Cause in that scenario you've got a pretty good chance that there'd be somebody else out there in the same situation, that you could get with as a consolation prize. That theory's got a little bonus attached to it, cause if your significant other's concerned you might ditch 'em for somebody else who'll give up the groceries, it'll completely set off their insecurity system an prolly get you where you're tryin' to go. Still, I suppose it could be as simple as tryin' to save the time you'd ordinarily hafta spend braggin' to your friends afterwards, cause now they already know about it in far greater detail than they'd ever wanted, an plus there wouldn't be that one jerk hangin' around claimin' you're makin' the whole thing up. People with even the tiniest shred of integrity generally save this kinda behavior for the drive-in, cause even though they're still at a gatherin' spot, at least the sound blastin' outta the speakers dulls the slappin' noises, an the physical exertion tends to fog the windows up. Ya know, sometimes I get the idea people just *like* bein' nasty.
The movie begins with these two guys from the junior varsity mafia out in Hicksville (literally) sexually harassin' a waitress in a diner, wonderin' why their food tastes like it's been in Richard Simmons' underwear all day, til that wears thin an one decides to go cruisin' for ugly transvestites with low self esteem (Joe) while the other (Art) goes home. Only one of these guys stands to *ever* get any action, cause even Joe's hand just wants to be friends. Then a spaceship flies down an lands in this cow pasture while Joe's scopin' out some of the hottest Guernseys the country has to offer (who aren't currently performin' pole routines in Raymond, Mississippi) an pretty quick the aliens start shinin' a spotlight in his face so we can see his horrified expression. Meanwhile, these two teenagers (Johnny an Joan) decide to drive to Makeout Mountain where all their friends compete to see who can fake the loudest orgasms, only they hafta leave once this bull sneaks up on Johnny an starts lickin' his ear an gets 'im all confused about his sexuality. Then they run over this little jaywalkin' alien that looks like one of Freddy Krueger's testicles, an Johnny starts havin' flashbacks to the last time he an Joan were in his backseat at the drive-in when she starts screamin' "It's disgusting! Get me away from here!" Cept before Johnny can comply, the little booger's hand breaks off like the window crank on an old pickup an pokes its nine inch nails into the tire til it goes flatter'n the national tax rate under Rand Paul. While that's goin' on, Joe's driven back to town to engulf Art in his noxious liquor cloud an tell 'im all about the spaceship, but Art tells 'im to take his saucer an go fork 'imself. So Joe drives back out to the scene where he tries to spatula the alien's face offa Johnny's grille an perform an alien auto-psy, an pretty quick another little sentient Brussels sprout with veins like Lou Ferrigno's biceps shows up an shoots 'im fulla heroin with its hypodermic digits. Elsewhere, Johnny an Joan head over to NRA headquarters to try gettin' the police to come out an do a probe of the area an any extraterrestrial anuses they may encounter, but they ain't about to leave their comfy desks an make cop circles for 'em. Which is prolly just as well, cause about that time Elmer Fudd comes home an finds the kids usin' his phone, an he's been P.O.'d at everybody under the age of 60 ever since some teenagers got one of his cows drunk an got 'er to do a layout for Udders Weekly that was so scandalous he purt'near got kicked outta the American Cattlemen's Association.
Then the kids head back to their car, only once they get there they find another moldy outer space onion takin' a jackhammer to it an draggin' Joe's corpse under the front bumper since that's the only way he'll face any jail time due to a xenophobic federal justice system that treats aliens like second class citizens. So while the kids sneak away to try figurin' out whether Johnny's insurance covers acts of P.O.'d spacemen, the Air Force shows up an starts puttin' a buncha bullet holes into the aliens' freshly detailed ship as a sign of goodwill. Unfortunately, that don't get 'em any closer to the aliens' license an registration, an once they see the keys danglin' from the ignition they decide to cut their way inside with a cuttin' torch an accidentally blow the thing into 8 million Erector Set pieces. Then the cops find the kids an things start gettin' complicated when all the various felonies Johnny's committed come up in conversation, an so they get hauled in an asked to incriminate themselves further by identifyin' Joe's body an pretty quick Johnny realizes Joan ain't the only one in trouble. Johnny ain't about to recite his marriage vows through a telephone an three inches of glass, so they hop out the window, steal a police cruiser, an drive back out to the woods to try provin' that the truth is out there. Cept pretty quick the truth crawls into their back seat an starts pawin' at Joan's bra straps til they hafta bail out an lock the severed alien claw inside an hope it don't tear up the upholstery. They figure the only guy who'll believe 'em is Joe's partner cause... I dunno, cause it's a convenient plot device I guess, an so they go convince Art to come out to the woods with 'em to help deal with the invasion of the buddy snatchers. Meanwhile, one of the space midgets is gettin' into it with one of Elmer Fudd's bulls an ends up gettin' gored through the gourd when he discovers a cow pasture's a real bad neighborhood to land in when you're a 3 foot tall red shirt. Then the rest of the aliens try phonin' their homie an when he don't answer they figure he prolly started walkin' back to Roswell to pick up some spare parts for their ship, so they head on over to where Art an the kids're parked to hitch a ride into town an pretty quick we got more aliens pumped fulla lead than an illigal border crossin' at a Minute Man target range. By this point, the aliens've decided that they no longer come in peace an that after they finish shootin' Art fulla deathamphetamine they're gonna head over to Steven Spielberg's house an kick the crap out of 'im for givin' the impression we were a civilized species. The kids temporarily hafta to leave Art high an fried, but only long enough to run over to Orgasm Chasm to convince their perverted friends to pull out an help 'em launch a counter offensive against the intergalactic garbanzos. Gonna cut off the synopsis here, so if you're interested in the ending you'll hafta find yourself a copy. Or you can send me $5 an I'll tell you what happens.
Alrighty, well, this one actually holds up fairly well even today, which is entirely due to the fact that it's got the perfect balance of science fiction and comedy. Most science fiction flicks from the 1950s were turkeys ridin' the coattails of legitimately decent titles like War of the Worlds and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Course, the demand was still there even for the bad ones, cause the fact of the matter is that people have, and always will, go to the movies to escape the drudgery of their lives whether the flick's worth a damn or not. That said, the comedic aspects of Invasion of the Saucer Men prove quite beneficial and make it enjoyable even to a mainstream audience, whereas the stinkers from the same era generally only appeal to connoisseurs of trash. It's unfortunate that more of the low budget productions didn't choose to utilize this approach, because while there are certainly quite a few "so bad they're good" science fiction flicks to come out of the 1950s, there are a lot more that're just "so bad they're painful," which can often be attributed to the overall talkiness that tends to plague these kinds of movies. And that's another area where Saucer Men succeeds that even a few of the legitimate science fiction classics sometimes stumble; pacing. Saucer Men is a really well paced movie, and Edward Cahn had the good sense to keep the running time down to 69 minutes, rather than pad it with stuffy dialog scenes or additional comic relief characters that send the movie careening down Silly Street at break-neck speed. Of course, Cahn was a seasoned director by that point, having directed 126 movies between 1931 and 1962. He did a lot of science fiction and horror titles, but also worked on westerns, crime dramas, action flicks, and quite a few shorts from just about every genre in existence, and pretty much had to fight for every bit of respect he ever got because it wasn't often that he got to work on a project that had the potential to become a blockbuster. His biggest hit was probably It! The Terror from Beyond Space, although Saucer Men is more fun, even if it's not the better movie. The other thing I really like about it is the way the writers utilize all kinda hackneyed cliches about the U.F.O. phenomenon and the people who tend to be involved with it, but add silly little touches that simultaneously poke fun at them and suggest a silly (yet plausible) solution for why said cliches seem to persist. Like the aliens injecting people with alcohol (see, all the rummies who see U.F.O.s aren't just shiftless drunks, maybe they were drugged, you dunno), or (minor spoiler) the way shining a bright light at the aliens makes them vanish into a puff of smoke (the light represents scientific scrutiny, ain't that cute?), and of course, the Air Force feeding a cover story to the police about one of their jets crashing when the cops show up at the site of the downed saucer. Hard to say whether the social commentary was intentional or just a coincidence, but I'll give the writers the benefit of the doubt. It certainly makes the movie better either way.
Anyhow, let's pump this thing fulla booze and see if that makes it more endearing, or just belligerent. The plot is, by design, cliched as all get out. But because it's done on purpose (and the general comedic tone of the movie isn't taken to extremes), I don't believe this hurts it one bit. Spoofs seldom win awards for originality, but when done right, the plot can usually be expected to keep the audience entertained and engaged, and Saucer Men definitely does. The acting isn't anything special, but contrary to some of the reviews I've read about it, it's certainly not bad. Maybe a little dated, but not bad. The most entertaining character is probably the old trigger happy farmer (Raymond Hatton) who comes runnin' outta the house with his double barrel anytime someone drives by cause he's so P.O.'d about the teenagers neckin' out in his cow pasture. The Air Force guys are pretty funny too, I think my favorite exchange in the movie is between Douglas Henderson and Sam Buffington when Sam says "only this special unit and the President of the United States will know what happened here tonight," to which Doug replies "you mean you think we know what's happened?" Good stuff.
Here's who matters and why: Gloria Castillo (Teenage Monster), Frank Gorshin (Twelve Monkeys, Batman (1966), The Creature of the Sunny Side Up Trailer Park, Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, The Meteor Man, Beverly Hills Bodysnatchers), Raymond Hatton (The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923, Day the World Ended, Undersea Kingdom), Lyn Osborn (The Cosmic Man, The Amazing Colossal Man, War of the Colossal Beast, It Conquered the World, Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow, The Navy vs. The Night Monsters, I Saw What You Did, The Satan Bug, Space Probe Taurus, The Strangler, Panic in the Year Zero!, I Bury the Living, The War of the Worlds 1953), Douglas Henderson (King Dinosaur, The War of the Worlds 1953, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars), Jason Johnson (The Cape Canaveral Monsters, The Andromeda Strain, Strange Intruder, The Last Missile), Don Shelter (Them!), Scott Peters (The Cape Canaveral Monsters, The Madmen of Mandoras, Panic in the Year Zero!, They Saved Hitler's Brain, Attack of the Puppet People, The Amazing Colossal Man), Ed Nelson (A Bucket of Blood 1959, The Boneyard, The Brain Eaters, Night of the Blood Beast, Teenage Cave Man, Attack of the Crab Monsters), Roy Darmour (Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man), Audrey Conti (Spook Chasers), Buddy Mason (The Comedy of Terrors, King Kong 1933), Angelo Rossitto (The Offspring, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Galaxina, The Lord of the Rings 1978, The Clones, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Brain of Blood, The Magic Sword, The Dark 1979, Dementia, Mesa of Lost Women, The Corpse Vanishes, Spooks Run Wild, Freaks, The Mysterious Island), Paul Blaisdell (Day the World Ended, The Beast with a Million Eyes, Voodoo Woman, Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow, The Undead, The She-Creature, It Conquered the World), Bob Burns (Fire City: End of Days, The Lovely Bones, King Kong 2005, Monster Kid Home Movies, The Naked Monster, The Low Budget Time Machine, Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here). And just to prove to you that some of these people had acting talent, some of them were even allowed to slum in mainstream movies for the benefit of a less enlightened audience. For instance: Frank Gorshin played The Riddler in the 1960s Batman series, Lyn Osborn was Cadet Happy on Space Patrol, Douglas Henderson went indoors on us when he sold out and portrayed Colonel Milt in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), and Kelly Thordsen went on to play Sheriff Wicker in The Parallax View, as well as Michael Rossi on Peyton Place.
The special effects you'd have to say are a little goofy, and at least not entirely on purpose. The aliens definitely have a unique design, but the reason I think even this *may* have been done in an intentionally silly manner is due to the size of their heads. I have trouble believing that, with a script like this one, they intended these effects to be terrifying to an audience. The absurdity of the gigantic heads on the dwarf (and possible child) actors seems pretty intentional to me. Still, I'll agree with Gloria Castillo's assertion that they're "disgusting," and when all you can see are the aliens' faces, they're definitely not what you'd call cute, so maybe there was a legitimate attempt to make the aliens menacing, who knows? They're still goofy any way you slice it. Other than the aliens, you've got the spaceship, which looks to have been a miniature, and a pretty decent one at that. Although it isn't saucer shaped, so shame on whoever came up with the title for falsely advertising Saucer Men when these're clearly Crescent Men, or Boomerang Men. The shooting locations are alright, but nothing special. You've got about half the movie taking place in town and the other half outside town, which I feel helps prevent the flick from bogging down, if nothing else. The scenes that take place on the outskirts of town are brushy enough to pass as the great outdoors, yet not so thick that the actors couldn't work in them, so they get the job done. Meanwhile, the sequences that take place in town feature a diner (which is a little lackluster), a police station (fair), and a few home interiors that aren't especially memorable. So the shooting locations are definitely the low point of the movie, even though there isn't anything inherently awful about them. The soundtrack, for the most part, is orchestrated in a deliberately silly, lighthearted manner, and utilizes mostly strings and horns (although there's a cute little xylophone solo in the opening credits). It's got just the right amount of hokedom to tie in seamlessly with the plot and the dialog, without getting into Abbott and Costello territory. I know it may not sound important, but if it'd been too silly the scales would've tipped too heavily in the comedic direction and ruined it, and if it'd been more serious, all the amusement derived from it would have been that unintentional kind that generally embarrasses a director. Overall, this one has aged pretty well due to its serious, but not too serious atmosphere, and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys goofy science fiction movies and/or spoofs. Check it out.