Admittedly, I expected this to be far worse than it turned out. I imagined that in far less capable hands (Ed Wood, as an example), "Invisible Invaders" could have been a disaster to laugh at. However, in the competent directorial reins of Edward L Cahn, this turns out far better than it has any right to be. This little, 68 minute B-movie sci-fi effort from United Artists has an alien invasion, cloaked intentionally in invisibility, purposely plans to overthrow and dominate the earth for their own colonization. Taking the bodies of the dead, the invisible alien invaders emanate a radioactivity that reads their presence in the area, producing a way of warning for the heroes holed up in a secret military bunker (which can withstand an atomic blast as intended) designed for them to have equipment and devices to be used for experimentation. Collected in this bunker are Major Jay (resident in the B-movie universe, John Agar), the soldier/protector of the group, scientists, Dr. Penner (Philip Tonge) and Lamont (Robert Hutton), and Penner's daughter, Phyllis (Jean Byron). Penner was head of a nuclear program, associated with a renowned and dead scientist, Noymann (John Carradine). Penner resigns after Noymann accidentally kills himself in a nuclear blast that destroys his lab. Penner is the first to be "greeted" by an alien invader, taking Noymann's body as a host to forewarn the world of what awaits them. In the bunker, the group will be tasked to come up with a way to stop the invisible invaders as the world is toiling in apocalyptic chaos. Will they be able to find an answer at saving the human race?
To think that the fate of humanity lies in four people inside a small bunker in some Podunk rural locale hidden from society at large. Small-scale in as far as the setting, but large-scale in the overall story of how a minute band of characters will have to conceal their anxieties of the current nightmarish situation and the claustrophobic entrapment of the bunker in order to find the weakness (the kink in the armor, so to speak) of the global-threatening enemy, hoping to exterminate the invisible invaders. Carradine fans shouldn't expect to see a great deal of him; this was a way to use (exploit?) the assets he does bring to a film. I mean, he is on the cover of prints for the film. The makeup work is essential to the creepy factor this movie has going for it. The farmer himself is an ideal model for the zombie design that came into form a decade later. When Carradine emerges inside the house of Tonge, it is quite an introduction! The way the makeup lines Carradine's face and his foreboding voice: this sets up the invasion plot neatly. Tonge is so damn good, he actually elevates the plot, and let's face it, this has quite a bill of goods to convincingly sell to an audience. Hutton gets saddled with a part that many might consider a "cowardly nuisance in scientist's clothes", but he does what he can despite of how it undermines him. Byron has the love triangle beauty that courageous and authoritative military man, Agar, and ready-to-pee-in-his-pants, "let's go ahead and surrender" scientist, Hutton, vie for. I think the sight of the undead, either walking the countryside or on the monitor in the bunker, has a nicely unsettling look. The "sound device" is an interesting method of defeating the enemy, using sound waves as a means to circumvent their ascent. The use of movie and stock footage to recognize the alien invasion's success is quite effective; this is using resources imaginatively and cleverly when stuck with a minuscule budget. The resignation of Tonge, as he wishes for Washington to recognize what the H-bomb did to the air we breath, and even perhaps the atmosphere of earth, is an interesting precursor to the global warming debate of today.