Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here (1988)
"Earth...you have 24 hours to surrender!"
Beetle-like aliens invade a small town where the teenagers have been watching a sci-fi marathon in the local cinema. Zapping the projectionist, the aliens splice together footage of old sci-fi films to try and keep the crowd entertained whilst they slowly take over their minds. A couple of teenagers realise what is going on and try to put an end to the invasion before it's too late.
There is a certain fondness in the US, and to a lesser extent the UK, for the glory days of the small town cinema experience of yesteryear. Not those massive soulless multiplexes but old, beautifully-designed grandiose buildings with unique designs and decor, built in the centre of town, run by locals who knew everyone by name, manned by projectionists, ticket collectors and the woman in the glass booth you paid to get in, with fancy foyers, popcorn machines, staircases with tacky carpets and lavish auditoriums. And no era really defines that better than the 50s, a time when film become accessible for the mainstream and 'going to the movies' became a popular pastime. Science fiction became a feasible (and lucrative) genre during this period and the decade was bombarded with a slew of cheap and cheerful films which promised larger-than-life stories and special effects to take people out of their comfort zones, popular at drive-ins too and like nothing people had seen before. Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here is a curious love letter to that 50s era, where quaint American towns were under siege from all manner of giant radioactive monsters, shape-shifting blobs and things from outer space, super-sized human beings and Martians wanting to conquer Earth.
In reality, Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here is just basically an excuse to show a load of clips of some of these old cheap science fiction films and jazz it all up in a package. It's hard to review in all honesty because most of the running time is taken up with clips of films that dominated the 50s. In no particular order, there are clips from films such as It Came From Beneath the Sea, Them!, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Giant Claw, The Amazing Colossal Man, Reptilicus, The Blob, The Trollenberg Terror, The Thing from Another World, War of the Colossal Beast, Fiend Without a Face, Earth Vs The Flying Saucers, Invaders From Mars and so on - funnily enough most of those have been reviewed on this site! If you want a break down of those films, then scour the site for more in-depth analysis of each one.
For anyone who hasn't seen the films from which the clips are taken, some of the highlights may actually make you want to go and check them out. Other clips may not! There are some real turkeys in there like The Giant Claw but there's also some decent outings like Fiend Without a Face. The clips aren't edited together very well though and it jumps from one film to another randomly so you'll never quite know which film the current clip is from unless you’ve seen them. But the nostalgia for this bygone era of science fiction will shine through and there's an obvious love for the 50s on display from the people behind this.
As far as the framing device goes for the film, it's probably the only decent story that would warrant the clips being shown - the idea that aliens are trying to conquer the Earth and taking over the human race by showing films that warn about such events. Whether this is accidental or deliberate remains to be seen because Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here doesn't exactly try to develop this idea. If you're looking to work out the balance between the amount of clips shown and the amount of actual new content that has been filmed, then you'll find its heavily weighted in favour of the clips. There's no central character and no build up - the film begins as the aliens arrive and start taking over the cinema. That's it. The aliens aren't scary, little attempt is made to flesh out their origins, their purposes, their weaknesses, strengths, etc. Just accept this invasion has begun and like it seems to be the message from the script. There is a daft sense of humour running through the film with some of the aliens assuming different roles in the cinema like becoming the popcorn vender, etc. but they're not threatening or intimidating and they're beaten all too easily at the end.
The beetle-alien costumes look rubbish and their leader, a big brain with a single eye, is simply a dodgy-looking puppet which is shaken around a lot when it gets angry. A few exterior shots of the spaceship look like model work out of a Gerry Anderson TV show and the cinematography loves green lighting and lots of dry ice to try and inject some visual life into what is a rather drab looking film. Considering how much footage from the old films they use, I'd say the best part of the budget went on securing the rights to screen these clips, rather than invest in costumes and effects.
If you fancy watching basically a highlight reel of some old B-movies then check this out. If you can't be bothered sitting through the individual films, then the best bits of them are shown. It's the only reason to watch Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here but it does a pretty decent job of making its audience want to go and check them out. I think I've got about two of them left to watch.
Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here
Director(s): Robert Skotak
Writer(s): Miller Drake
Actor(s): Janice Fabian, Christian Lee, Larry Bagby, Dana Young, David Dunham, Charles Wycoff
Duration: 79 mins