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Film / Invasion of the Saucer Men

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"Pffft! That could be any '50s sci-fi film!"
The Cinema Snob on the film's title, Shake, Rattle & Rock! review.

Invasion of the Saucer Men is a 1957 science fiction horror B-Movie. Yes, there really is a 1950s science-fiction B-movie titled Invasion of the Saucer Men. It was adapted from "The Cosmic Frame", a short story by Paul Fairman that ran in Amazing Stories (May of 1955, available here).

The movie concerns a town named Hicksburg, wherein a spaceship lands in the nearby woods. Drunk opportunist Joe Gruen (a young Frank Gorshin) ventures out to find it. Meanwhile a teenage couple - Johnny (Steve Terrell) who works in a garage, and Joan (Gloria Castillo) who is the daughter of the city attorney - are driving down lovers lane when they run over one of the epononymous bulbous-headed aliens from the spaceship. The two go off to tell of their encounter to the police, and while they're gone, Joe comes across the alien corpse. The aliens kill via injecting people with alcohol with their retractable fingernails, and do so to Joe. They substitute his corpse for the run-down alien's. The police come with Johnny and Joan back to the site and find Joe, thereby assuming that the two were drunk and ran him over, hallucinating that he was an alien. Without the police's help, the town's teens are forced to take on the aliens themselves...

Was remade for TV in 1965 as Attack of the Eye Creatures, which is a much worse movie.

The design of the character of Morbo from Futurama is based on that of the aliens from this film.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: It's a very short movie but they still needed to expand on the short story to get it to be as long as it is. "The Cosmic Frame" ends with Johnny being wrongfully arrested for running a man over (after being framed by the aliens - hence the title). The film carries the story on a ways past that, with Johnny eventually successfully clearing his name and getting a Happy Ending.
    • Adaptational Protagonist: The main character of "The Cosmic Frame" is actually Johnny's dad, Sam, but the filmmakers, knowing who their audience would be, decided to change the focus to the teen couple themselves. This meant expanding Joan's role in particular, since she only has a single line of dialogue in the original story, while Sam barely appears in the film.
    • Adaptational Villainy: The aliens are clear-cut villains in the movie, while in the short story, they're more Ambiguously Evil. They frame Johnny for the death of Frank (the equivalent character to Joe from the movie) as an act of revenge; admittedly, he did run over one of them. However, it's still unclear what happened to Frank, and whether the aliens may have killed him for a less justifiable reason.
    • Adaptational Wimp: The aliens have no particular Weaksauce Weakness in the original story, and by the end of it seem to have more or less won.
    • Decomposite Character: Farmer Larkin and Joe Gruen are both split off from Frank Williams, a character we hear about but never meet in the short story. Joe also has elements of the short story's version of Lee Hayden (Joan's dad), inheriting his desire to financially capitalize off the dead alien; in the movie, Lee never even sees one of the aliens or believes in their existence.
  • Adults Are Useless: None of the adults believe the teenage main characters except for Artie.
  • Alien Invasion: Please refer to the title.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The aliens land in the woods outside a small town.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted, but the government agents try it nonetheless.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: Averted brutally when one of the aliens attacks the farmer's prize bull and gets an eye gouged out. Toward the end we see that the bull, though wounded by the alien's claws, has survived.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy: The military men who destroy the alien spaceship are sworn to secrecy about the entire encounter, in order to keep the world safe. One soldier ponders how many other units have encountered similar phenomena and likewise had to stay quiet about it.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Retractable finger-needles that inject some sort of alcohol as a weapon. They can also detach themselves and run amok on their own if the aliens are killed.
  • Cassandra Truth: Because they all smell like booze.
  • Comedy Horror: While a few scenes are clearly intended to be genuinely shocking, the movie is full of comic relief moments and mostly has a fairly light tone. The remake, The Eye Creatures, is even Denser and Wackier.
  • Ditto Aliens: Low budgets will do that to you, but it could be so much worse
  • Drunk Driver: Johnny is accused of being this, which leads to him getting arrested for running over a guy.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Courtesy of the alien's Weaksauce Weakness
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: The aliens seem perfectly comfortable strutting around nude.
  • Flying Saucer: It's even in the title.
  • Gorn: There is a shockingly gory scene (for the time) this was made at one point when one of the Saucer Men has their eye gouged out by an enraged bull.
  • Little Green Men: Whether it's played straight or for laughs is somewhat unclear.
  • Makeout Point: Ends up saving the say. When Johnny and Joan realize the aliens' Weaksauce Weakness, they enlist all the other couples at the point to kill the remaining aliens with their cars' headlights, on the logic that their fellow teens will believe them where the adults wouldn't.
    • Terror At Makeout Point: It's when driving away from the lover's lane that our central couple first encounter an alien.
  • Mistaken for Aliens: The police suspects that the drunk youths mistook the guy they run over for an alien.
  • My Brain Is Big: The big, veiny variety.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: The narrator assures us that yes, Hicksburg really was the name of the town. In the original short story, it was called Kensington Corner
  • Police Are Useless: The police, naturally, refuse to believe there are aliens, or even investigate the possibility.
  • Terrible Pickup Lines: Joe asks a waitress for directions, specifically asking her to tell him how to get to "first base with you tonight." It doesn't go very well for him.
  • Touch of the Monster: A movie with this title simply would not be complete without a poster that bore this trope.
  • Weakened by the Light: The aliens
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The aliens die in bright light. This raises the question of how they expected to conquer a planet that gets so much sunlight.