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Film / Invisible Invaders

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From left to right: Maj. Jay, Phyllis, Dr. Penner, Dr. Lamont.

Invisible Invaders is a 1959 Science Fiction movie directed by Edward L. Cahn and starring Philip Tonge, John Agar, Jean Byron, Robert Hutton, and John Carradine.

After a radioactive accident kills Dr. Karol Noymann (Carradine), his friend and colleague Dr. Adam Penner (Tonge), starts the initiative to stop nuclear experimentation. Later, Noymann's body is possessed by an invisible alien and goes to Penner's house to warn him that if humanity does not stop nuclear testing, they will destroy the earth. At first no one believes him, but the invaders start to make public announcements and Major Bruce Jay (Agar) recruits Penner, as well as his daughter Phyllis (Byron) and her boyfriend Dr. John Lamont (Hutton), to find a way to kill the monsters.

A minor cult classic, Invisible Invaders is mostly known today for being arguably the Trope Maker of the Zombie Apocalypse genre, almost a decade before Night of the Living Dead (1968).


  • Alien Invasion: By invisible aliens.
  • America Saves the Day: What else would you expect from a movie made in The '50s?
  • Apocalypse How: Class 2: The aliens are stopped within hours of their promised three days of extermination, with humanity on the fence and an unknown number of casualties (definitely millions) from their engineered disasters.
  • Atomic Hate: The Plot-Triggering Death of Dr. Noymann occurs because of an accidental atomic explosion, Dr. Penner shows a distaste for the American government refusing to use atomic energy for the benefit of mankind (instead focusing on making nuclear weapons), and the invaders decide to invade and Kill All Humans when they first thought of Earth as an insignificant planet because of humanity advancing rapidly on the creation of atomic weaponry. The invaders themselves are also highly radioactive.
  • Badass Boast:
    Invader!Noymann: "We have not been defeated! We have never been defeated... the dead will kill the living!"
  • Betty and Veronica: Gender flipped. Lamont is the Betty, Major Jay the Veronica and Phyllis the Archie, although it is largely downplayed.
  • Captured Super-Entity: The team successfully captures an invader, in an inversion of Alien Abduction.
  • Cassandra Truth: Penner's warning about the aliens. Authorities and reporters thought he was crazy and turned him into the target of jokes.
    • Double whammy: when the aliens order Penner to deliver their ultimatum, he insists that nobody will believe him without anything to provide proof. The aliens give him nothing and act offended when nobody listens to him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The farmer that tries to take the jeep. After Major Jay kills him, his body is taken by an invader, and it is this invader that is captured by the group later for experimentation.
  • Closed Circle: The whole group is inside of a bunker surrounded by invaders looking to find them, then get inside and kill them. Once they have managed to develop a weapon, the invaders jam the communications, forcing Major Jay, Ms. Penner and Dr. Lamont to go out and destroy the ship.
  • Commander Contrarian: Dr. Lamont, with an additional minor serving of Dirty Coward-he is the one member of the group that continuously insists that the aliens are invincible and it would be best to surrender and hope they will let them live. Still provides assistance with the experiments and helps find the invaders' ship on the climactic raid.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: As "elaborate" as it can get with virtually no budget, any case: the underground fallout bunker where the group goes to and performs their research, one of various where other scientist VIPs have been placed around the world, with a big garage and top-of-the-line laboratory which includes a nice pressure chamber-slash-containment facility.
  • Insufficiently Advanced Alien: Turns out that, aside from their capability to be invisible and take over dead bodies, the Earth's atmosphere completely screws up their technology, forcing the aliens to use the humans' own weapons in a campaign of massively-destructive sabotage. Doesn't stops them from delivering a near-total Curb-Stomp Battle, though.
  • Invisibility: The aliens' main defense.
  • Invisible Monsters: the titular invaders.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Major Jay is a veteran of The Korean War, but still needs a freaking drink after performing a Boom, Headshot! on a desperate farmer that tried to take their transport at gunpoint (he invokes I Did What I Had to Do and then adds this trope).
  • Mandatory Unretirement: The movie starts with Dr. Adam Penner retiring from the Atomic Commission and swearing on his friend's grave that he will never use science to develop weapons again. The second act of the movie has him going back to the Atomic Commission and becoming part of a group of scientists secreted throughout the country which have been assigned to find something that will kill the aliens.
  • Make Some Noise: The invaders' only weakness is a high-pitched sound wave. It turns them visible and then disintegrates them to foam.
  • Narrator: One which provides quite a lot of information, some of which could have been given on-screen or is pretty obvious to deduce from what is happening.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The reanimated corpses are never referred as zombies, justified since the term wasn't codified into the meaning it has today.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The fact that the captured invader's gloating changes from "we will not be defeated-we will Kill All Humans!" to "If you surrender to me, you will be spared!" makes Major Jay believe that they may be unto something with the experiments-if the invader is trying to make them stop, then they must be close!
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Corpses possessed by aliens, they do not eat human flesh and have considerable intelligence, but otherwise behave much like typical zombies.
  • People in Rubber Suits: The invaders, when they're visible.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: That of Dr. Karol Noymann. The fact that he died in an accidental nuclear explosion, said explosion irradiated the entire area surrounding the lab and the military is borderline nonchalant about the implications is what drives Dr. Penner to quit the Atomic Commission... and for the invaders to pick Dr. Noymann's cadaver to visit Dr. Penner.
  • Possessing a Dead Body: How the invisible invaders wage war on mankind.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The aliens possess human corpses and use them to attack living people.
  • Race Against the Clock: The aliens swear, on the moment they declare war, that they will Kill All Humans in a campaign lasting three days (and the armies of the world can do squat to stop them from fulfilling this promise), so the group has a very short deadline to find something that will stop the invaders.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Not so much misfits per se, but an atomic scientist, a nondescript scientist, a psychologist and an Army major are the ones to save the world.
  • Science Hero: The whole group, truly, but Dr. Penner gets the lion's share of the Eureka Moments.
  • Spinning Paper: Two newspaper montages appear: one which shows the disbelief of the world at Dr. Penner's attempt to warn them of the aliens, and one which shows the world's reactions to the invaders delivering their ultimatum.
  • Stock Footage: The movie use this when showing the Zombie Apocalypse. Footage of riots, demolitions and house fires are used to display the decay of civilization.
  • Technobabble: Surprisingly averted for a film of its kind, the few lapses into technical terms are very short and simple.
  • Title Drop: The Narrator calls the invisible invaders by that exact term more than a few times.
  • Worm Sign: The invisible aliens leave behind grooves on the ground (and bent shrubbery) wherever they go.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Ur-Example, and also an Unbuilt Trope, since the zombies are easily defeated (well... once the sonic weapon is developed. Turns out that the damn things are Immune to Bullets).
  • Zombie Gait: How the possessed walk.