Invasion of the Saucer Men
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Invasion of the Saucer Men (a.k.a. Invasion of the Hell Creatures, with the working title Spacemen Saturday Night), is a 1957 black-and-white comic science fiction horror film produced by James H. Nicholson for release by American International Pictures. The film was directed by Edward L. Cahn and stars Steven Terrell and Gloria Castillo. The screenplay by Robert J. Gurney Jr. and Al Martin was based on the 1955 short story "The Cosmic Frame" by Paul W. Fairman. Invasion of the Saucer Men was released as a double feature with I Was a Teenage Werewolf.
|Invasion of the Saucer Men|
Theatrical release poster
by Albert Kallis
|Directed by||Edward L. Cahn|
|Produced by||Robert J. Gurney Jr.|
James H. Nicholson
|Written by||Robert J. Gurney Jr.|
|Based on||short story "The Cosmic Frame" by Paul W. Fairman|
|Music by||Ronald Stein|
|Cinematography||Frederick E. West|
|Edited by||Charles Gross|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
|June 19, 1957|
A flying saucer lands in the woods. A teenage couple, Johnny Carter (Terrell) and Joan Hayden (Castillo), while driving to their local lover's lane without the headlights on, accidentally run down one of the saucer's large-headed occupants.
Joe Gruen (Frank Gorshin), a drunken opportunist, stumbles across the alien's corpse after the teenagers have left to report the incident. Imagining future riches and fame, he plans to keep the body, storing it for now in his refrigerator. After failing to convince his buddy Artie Burns (Lyn Osborn) to help him retrieve the alien body, Joe decides to head for home. Other aliens soon arrive, however, and quickly inject alcohol into his veins via their retractable needle fingernails. Joe, already intoxicated, soon dies from alcohol poisoning.
Having reported the accident and the deceased alien to the police, Johnny and Joan return with the sheriff, only to find Joe's dead body instead of the alien's. The police then decide to charge both teenagers with vehicular manslaughter.
Meanwhile, the dead alien's hand detaches itself from its host and runs amok, causing trouble. The military, following up an earlier UFO report, soon get involved, eventually surrounding the alien's saucer. In the end, it is the teenagers, not the military, who defeat the aliens when they discover that the saucer's occupants cannot stand the glare from their car's bright headlights.
The film was made by Malibu Productions. Film rights to Fairman's short story were purchased through Forrest J Ackerman's Ackerman Science Fiction Agency. Special effects technician Paul Blaisdell, who provided the alien make-up and flying saucer, recalled that Invasion of the Saucer Men was originally intended as a serious film but gradually developed into a comedy. The entire film takes place during the period of one night, with 98% of it filmed on a studio sound stage.
Variety called the film "a minor entry for the science-fiction trade", noting that it "suffers from poor use of attempted comedy, and is further handicapped by a haphazard sort of yarn which makes film's 69-minutes' running time seem much more". Harrison's Reports called it "an ordinary program melodrama ... The action on the whole is rather unbelievable, but it does have its horrific moments, particularly in the scenes where severed hands are shown creeping about to touch human beings". In the UK (where the film went under the title Invasion of the Hell Creatures), The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "The moments of burlesque of horror melodrama traditions, whether intentional or not, are at least curious. The trickeries are quite convincingly staged, but the film is juvenile in approach and treatment".
On his website Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings, Dave Sindelar gave the film a mixed review, saying, "Though it maintains a light atmosphere, it is very lacking in the basic element of a comedy, and that's good jokes. Nonetheless, it's directed with a certain energy, features some truly memorable aliens courtesy of Paul Blaisdell, juggles its three storylines with ease, and in its own way, it may be THE quintessential aliens vs. teenagers movie". Hans J. Wollstein from AllMovie gave the film a negative review, calling it "claustrophobic at best", and stating that the film "simply isn't funny but is clearly meant to be".
- Sanders, Don and Susan (1997). The American Drive-In Movie Theatre. Motorbooks International. p. 96. ISBN 0-7603-0425-4.
- LANCASTER ASKED TO CO-STAR IN FILM: Actor May Play Principal in Wald's 'Peyton Place'-- Production Unit Formed. By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times...New York Times (1923-current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 March 1957: 37
- MOVIELAND EVENTS: Film Will Show New Route to Everest. Los Angeles Times (1923-current file) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Jan. 1957: 20
- Palmer 2009, p. 139.
- Palmer 2009, p. 148.
- "Invasion of the Saucer Men - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- Paul Blaisdell, Monster Maker: A Biography of the B Movie Makeup and Special Effects Artist by Randy Palmer, 1997
- "Invasion of Saucer Men". Variety: 6. July 10, 1957.
- "'Invasion of the Saucer-Men' with Steve Terrell and Gloria Castillo". Harrison's Reports: 111. July 13, 1957.
- "Invasion of the Hell Creatures". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 24 (286): 140. November 1957.
- Sindelar, Dave. "Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957)". FantasticMoviemusings.com. Dave Sindelar. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
- Wollstein, Hans. "Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957) - Edward L. Cahn". Allmovie.com. Hans J. Wollstein. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
- Wilkinson House;
- Palmer, Randy; Olen Ray, Fred; Burns, Bob (March 30, 2009). Paul Blaisdel, Monster Maker: A Biography of the B Movie Makeup and Special Effects Artist (illustrated ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company. p. 139. ISBN 9780786440993. OCLC 226166735. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- Joslin, Lyndon W. (2006). "Cosmic Frames and Cover-ups: Invasion of the Saucer Men and the UFO Conspiracy of Silence". In Hogan, David J (ed.). Science Fiction America: Essays on SF Cinema (reprint, illustrated ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company. pp. 138–150. ISBN 0786421495. OCLC 57731021. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. 2009. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company,(First Editions Vol. 1, 1982, Vol. 2, 1986). ISBN 0-89950-032-3.