Director: Robert Skotak
Screenplay: Miller Drake
Cast: Janice Fabian (as Joanie); Christian Lee (as Billy); Larry Bagby (as Tim); Dana Young (as Mike); David Dunham (as Charlie); Charles Wycoff (as Willie)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #69
At a cinema in middle USA, insectoid aliens led by the father of the green pigs from the Angry Birds videogames take over the management and intend to use the patrons as the first building blocks of a full scale invasion, using the vast array of fifties and sixties sci-film reels in the projection booth to numb the patrons' mind so they can use their technology to harness the human psyche. Only a white bread young couple can stop them, whilst most of the running time is the film raiding the vast catalogue of pre-existing films from decades before, from the terror of The Mole People (1956) to even big studio works like the 1953 War of the Worlds, in compilation film form. The story itself is merely perfunctory. A comedy in spirit, its mainly broad caricatures the film occasionally cuts to between film clips acting in exaggerated ways whilst the aliens take them over one by one - of two chubby hillbillies who don't change drastically even after Body Snatcher pods have turned them radioactive glowing green, a pair of the type of punk rocker that only existed in these types of genre movies for some inexplicable reason, a white trash family whose daughter is so loud someone in the audience knocks her out with a thrown wrench, two Japanese men who have cameras - broad but inoffensive stereotypes who are merely mild in terms of the humour.
The sci-fi narrative is a pastiche of said films, the leads bland white suburbanites whilst the aliens, well done in terms of a low budget film, have more charisma in spite of the lack of moving mouths, a pig-like blob which grunts managing to have more comic timing than the human cast. (One of his henchmen even gets to make out with a human woman who stars off nerdy before, in another broad stereotype, takes off her glasses and undoes her hair revealing herself to be a hot blonde). It does the pastiche with some charm, even managing to pull off a giant prosthetic monster at the end for an exclamation mark, but it's merely okay as a stand-by film, one that stands oddly with its subject as its both a tribute to this type of sci-fi cinema but constantly has characters mentioning these films as mind numbing and using them as a soma for the humans they're trying to control. It's an interesting meta-textual commentary, even by accident, about the aliens taking over the human race with films which warn people against such invasions, but its ambiguous in terms of whether it's meant to pay affection to these films or glibly taking advantage of them to make a new movie.
The real interest is all the films used in clip form. Films I want to see - even if many of them will probably suffer from their stilted writing, bland leads and accidental archness, the snippets of them in Invasion Earth, even if they emphasise said stiffness, would convince anyone they are utterly surreal and artistically eye-popping hallucinations even if they had pie dish flying saucers in them. Fresh faced Lee Van Cleef attacking a giant combination of a squid and dog chew toy with a blow torch, a rear-projection assisted giant man, countless family members of the monster at the end of Luigi Cozzi's Contamination (1980), disembodied brains and faces floating in ether, and an entire deeply troubled psyche of destruction and humanity being controlled for unknown forces. Buildings being graphically destroyed by giant monsters, people being taken over or, in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), replaced by copies, and a surprising amount of aliens wanting to take Earth women for sexual favours or (explicably in one of the trailers used) breeding stock for Martians, suggesting some deeply disturbing subtext from the creators depending on what the aliens are meant to represent, or a type of exceptionally kinky sexual fetish spilling out, all of which especially when the film becomes a constant montage of various different clips bouncing off each other having a potent effect in seeing all the destruction and chaos all at once. If anything alongside the legitimately weird and freakish imagery involved - the stop motion tendril brains from Fiend Without a Face (1958) are actually disturbing in terms of body horror here especially when they shrivel up and die after being shot - the deep well of fears and public concerns filtered out into these apparently mainstream b-flicks make them compelling enough to search out alongside the classics also shown.
Altogether you can't call Invasion Earth good, the best praise possible to give it that it has the virtue of any compilation of enticing viewers to track down the films used within. The film as a piece of entertainment thought is a peculiar oddity from the late eighties that's inexplicable in why it would be made and, whether for the cinema or (likely) video, who the exact target was for it. With no gore or swearing, it's suitable for kids with its light sense of humour, but even then I have to scratch my head encountering this peculiar one-off, and not necessary a positive reaction. It's encouraged me to track down the clips used in it, which I have to commend it for, but I can't proclaim it a great cult flick with pays tribute to an older era of cinema, more so as Popcorn (1991) exists, a slasher film which goes out of its way with success as a tribute to this gimmick filled era of filmmaking, understandably more well known compared to Invasion Earth.