Scientist Adam Penner has been contacted by aliens.

These aliens ever-so-politely inform Adam that they’ve been living on the moon for 20,000 years, and that since they’re invisible, no one has been able to find them… and no one will be able to stop them. They have not been defeated, and they will never be defeated!

The aliens threaten to completely wipe out all humanity unless the Earthlings surrender to their control immediately, setting a deadline of 24 hours.

Adam decides that he isn’t willing to let Earth or humankind go down without a fight. Along with his daughter, another scientist and an army major, he locks himself in an underground bunker/super-groovy science lab and sets about to find the weakness of the invading aliens.

(Image: Wrong Side of the Art)

But the aliens aren’t ready to go down without a fight, either. They decide to take over the bodies of the human deceased and attack Adam’s lab.

Invisible Invaders (1959) was directed by Edward L. Cahn. The cast includes John Agar, Jean Byron, Philip Tonge, Robert Hutton and best of all John Carradine as an alien inhabiting the body of a man named Dr. Karol Noymann.

Many science fiction films of the 1950s addressed the issue of nuclear war, but few that I’ve seen tackle the issue quite so directly as Invisible Invaders. The film begins with a tale of a scientist who was killed when his lab, where he was building an atomic bomb, exploded. Associates of the deceased man debate the potential negative effects of the bombs. One colleague even swears off atomic bombs for good, saying he’ll use his science smarts only for projects that can’t lead to the destruction of humans from now on.

The entire plot is somewhat centered around the debate over nuclear war. The aliens choose Adam Penner as the man to relay their message of death and destruction to the people because he’s been an outspoken advocate of peace and of ceasing the manufacture of powerful bombs.

The societal criticism that the film provides is incredibly striking, some of the strongest I’ve seen from any film of this type. No one is willing to take Adam’s warning seriously after he is visited by the Carradine-alien man: an allegory for the world’s unwillingness to listen to the anti-nuclear argument. The delivery of this anti-nuclear message to the audience is quite obvious but also incredibly clever. The film goes so far as to explicitly show the destruction of some of earth: falling bridges, burning buildings, riots.

Fantastic mid-century context aside, Invisible Invaders is everything I want and expect when I choose to watch a late ’50s sci-fi film.

It’s got corny effects: growling sounds from the “invisible invaders,” a Theremin-esque score (or maybe just a Theremin score — I’m was not able to find any information on whether the COOLEST INSTRUMENT EVER was actually used to make it), vanishing acts, newsreel-style narration, incredibly stereotypical portrayals of “the walking dead.” Invisible feet make deep tracks in the ground, and space metal appears only to disappear again. Cheesy, low-budget effects always make for a fun watch, and this film is no exception to that rule.

Likewise, the performances are often exaggerated. Though John Carradine’s role is quite small he’s a major scene-stealer, pulling off a dead, alien-inhabited character with a perfect blank stare and monotone delivery.

Clocking in at only an hour and six minutes, Invisible Invaders is an incredible forgotten gem of the mid-century sci-fi realm. This is one that I’d love to add to my collection for a million future re-watches. The score: 5/5!