Bill’s Bizarre Bijou: INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN (1957)
Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open. Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.
American International Pictures, providers of fine drive-in fare for more than 25 years. Formed in 1954 by James Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff (sounds like a mad scientist, doesn’t he?), AIP produced movies on the cheap, movies that would appeal to the teenagers flocking to the outdoor theaters. The company was infamous for developing a poster and then having somebody (who worked cheaply) to write a script around the ad campaign. Surprisingly, this worked out well for everyone concerned. The producers made money, the kids were happy to see babes and monsters and hot rods in between make out sessions, and the films were so much fun it’s hard to complain about their lack of budget or home-made special effects. Whether it was THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (1954, and the first AIP feature) or Roger Corman’s Poe Cycle of films or I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN (1957), these movies were fun. Also in 1957, came a new, completely crazy sci-fi film INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN, directed by Edward L. Cahn (IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE, 1958, VOODOO WOMAN, 1957, DRAGSTRIP GIRL, 1957 and ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU, 1957. 1957 was a big year for Cahn!).
Our story begins with a book entitled ‘A True Story of a Flying Saucer.’ A male hand turns the pages, showing the economically created credits while music plays that sounds suspiciously like Loony Toons accompaniment. Instantly, we meet, via voice-over, our hero, Artie Burns (Lyn Osborn, Cadet Happy on the SPACE PATROL show) who talks about his hometown, Hicksburg, where there isn’t much for the young people to do except suck face in cars at lover’s lane. Joe, Artie ‘s partner, played by Frank Gorshin (the Riddler on the 1960s BATMAN TV series), is a jive talking hustler looking for a woman to pick up. They live together in a boarding house, but after striking out with a diner waitress, Joe decides to find some action somewhere else. Instead, he spots a UFO landing in a nearby field! He rushes back to the boarding house to let his partner in on what he’s seen.
Meanwhile, Johnny (Steve Terrell of TEA AND SYMPATHY and RUNAWAY DAUGHTERS – both 1956) hangs out with his buddies, waiting to pick up his girl Gloria (played by Gloria Castillo of REFORM SCHOOL GIRL, 1957 and TEENAGE MONSTER, 1958). They plan to elope later that night, but first they stop at Lover’s Point for a few beers and some nik-nik. After their tryst, they run over a little man with a huge head, killing it, but its hand (with an eye on the back of it) crawls away, grows sharp nails, and punctures the teens’ tires! They run to Old Man Larkin’s house to call the cops, but the old man is missing. They barge on in to his place and use his phone, but the police don’t believe their reports of little green men. “It’s Saturday Night,” the policeman says. “It’s official.”
Meanwhile, the UFO is being investigated by the military—well, two men from the military, who don’t seem to do much other than stand around and worry. Colonel Ambrose and Lt. Wilkins call in the engineers!
Driving back to the field, Joe finds the hand-less corpse of the big brained saucer man. After he takes a snort of bourbon, he packs the creature into his car. He calls his partner and tells him to clean everything out of the refrigerator. “What I’m bringing home is perishable!”
Old Man Larkin returns and he thinks the kids are drunk. “You tell yer friends not to park on my property, or they’ll get a backside full a’ rock salt!” So, Johnny and Jean tromp back to the car to fix the flat and discover the creature’s body is gone. Joe is attacked by several of the little bastards, who stab him with hypodermic fingers dripping with liquid.
Johnny and Jean find one of the saucer men using a little jack-hammer on the bumper of their car. They decide to just walk back to town. They’re stopped by the police, who take their statements. The stupid kids tell the truth, but they are given a drunk test and locked up, instead. “In my day, we were content with pink elephants,” the sensitive officer says. That’s what happens when you report little green men traipsing about the countryside.
In the meantime, the military is getting nowhere trying to contact the space men . . . probably because they’re all out of the UFO bashing up teenager’s cars and shooting up The Riddler with happy juice. They accidentally blow the ship to pieces. Yep, that’s our best defense at work.
Jean’s father is the city attorney, who picks her up at the jail. But, boy, he doesn’t like Johnny or his slick ways. The kids are accused of running over Joe, and the coppers have the body to prove it. That’s why they were jack hammering Johnny’s car, to frame the kids for murder! Smart little monsters. Joe is dead from alcohol poisoning, and he is not a little green man. The cops go to the boarding house to speak to his “friend.” Whenever someone talks about Artie, Joe’s “roommate,” they say it as though in “quotation marks.” Hmm . . .
The kids steal Jean’s father’s car and head for the field again to prove their innocence. The woods are crawling with the big-headed creatures. And the military just leaves the wreckage of the UFO in the field! And that hand is still crawling around!
The kids go back to town and fetch Artie, telling him how his “roommate” has been killed. The saucer men skulk around the bushes of the woods, one finally attacking Old Man Larkin’s prize bull with injections of alcohol from its fingers, but the inebriated bull has other ideas, goring the creature right in its bugged out eyeballs! The bull bucks and stabs at an obvious dummy, flinging the stuffed saucer man all over a field.
Jean’s father’s car has a huge spotlight on it, which she claims she uses as a mirror. Lucky for them, because when the saucer men are caught in the bright lights, they blow up real good. Finally, a way to kill the little jerks! It’s up to all the amorous teens at Lover’s Point and their hot rods to rid the town of Hicksburg of the interstellar menace!
If all this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you saw the TV remake, THE EYE CREATURES (1965) directed by the hack Larry Buchanan. It follows the plot point by point, copies dialogue word for word, but misses any of the fun from the original. Even the creatures pale in comparison, burlap sack covered people with hundreds of ping pong eyes sewn on. Really. I’d much rather watch the midgets with giant veiny heads, bugged out eyes, sharp teeth, and long hands that have magical liquor in their fingers. Now, that is a party monster!
INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN is, by no means, a good film. It is, however, a lot of fun if you’re in the right frame of mind . . . like the constant frame of my mind. And certainly yours, dear reader. With funny hipster dialogue, crazy situations, bad acting, and the silliest looking monsters in ages, it is a lot of fun. I bet the teens in 1957 ate it up, cheering on the brave, cool kid heroes and hissing at the stupid adults who just won’t listen to them.
I give INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN three little green men out of four.
© Copyright 2012 by William D. Carl