When TCM Underground airs a film whose description boils down to "alien zombies in business suits," you're not going to get much of an argument out of me.
Quick Plot: In the years following the nuclear devastation of World War II, many scientists became hesitant to continue exploring atomic physics. After his colleague Karol Noymann is killed in a lab explosion, Dr. Adam Penner decides to step away from science altogether.
Things change significantly when Adam is visited by Karol's reanimated corpse, now occupied by an alien invader issuing a warning: tell the world to surrender or his space companions will take over the rest earth's dead bodies and wreak havoc upon the entire planet. We are invisible aliens who have been living on the moon, and now, we want to eff you up.
Shockingly, the general public doesn't quite buy the initial message.
A few demonstrations are in order, as the aliens make some pit stops at large sporting events to spread their message. For added dramatic effect, they also begin destroying major buildings, bridges, and dams across the world. Worst of all, they make good on their promise to take over recent corpses, lumbering through the streets in the guise of the deceased.
Yes indeed, Invisible Aliens is an early zombie film, and surprisingly good one at that. While the selling point for me may have indeed been "alien zombies in business suits," the final product is creepy, quick, and rewarding. Director Edward Cahn attacks the material from a smart and timely standpoint, making our main characters an interesting assortment of post-war types. We start with the scientists dealing with the guilt of atomic warfare and now having to re-enter the aggressive developments to save the world again. Later, a regular ol’ American soldier becomes a key player in addressing the morality of zombie/ghost/alien warfare.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Invisible Aliens--this here early zombie film that I’ve never heard mentioned in film discussion before--was viewed by a young George Romero some time before hauling a film crew to Pittsburgh. While there were certainly zombie movies prior to this one, the shambling corpses on display here are easily the closest thing I’ve seen a genuine precursor to Night of the Living Dead. When you smartly stuff that narrative into a swift 67 minutes, you’re doing a lot right.
While the effects are certainly dated, the basic concept and design of these invisible corpse renting invaders is quite unnerving
This really has nothing to do with the film, but when I google image search “invisible aliens,” all that comes up first are stills from what might be the most infuriating film I’ve ever reviewed here, The Darkest Hour. Yes, it has invisible aliens, but it’s also THE STUPIDEST THING YOU SHOULD NEVER SEE.
It's pretty difficult to convince the American public that the planet is about to be invaded by invisible space invaders who possess corpses without a hint of evidence
Invisible moon people do not lift their feet when they walk
The best place to start spreading a message of planetary invasion is Syracuse, NY
Any zombie lover who hasn’t seen Invisible Aliens should definitely carve out a whopping 67 minutes to sneak it in. This isn’t the best sci-fi horror film to come out of the ‘50s, but it’s far better than many and offers a whole lot to enjoy in its brief running time. In the current open encyclopediac culture of cinema, I’m surprised it’s not discussed more often.