Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 63

Jay (B-movie regular John Agar) retreat to an underground bunker, working desperately to find a weapon to defeat the invaders. Will they succeed? Or will the Earth fall to the Invisible Invaders? This being the Fifties, we know that won’t happen. A weapon is developed by our heroes to defeat the aliens, making the world safe for democracy, baseball and apple pie. While the story is straightforward and adequate for the 67 minute runtime, it does have a number of themes in tension. The attitude towards nuclear weapons is conflicted. They are responsible for the death of Noymann, Penner cites environmental contamination from tests and accidents as a reason he is leaving the project and their development prompts the alien invasion. The military justifies their development by saying the Russians are working on them, so the United States has to as well, a pragmatic/realist view of nuclear deterrence. While the aliens cite the development of nuclear weapons as one reason for invading, the fact that they boast of wiping out the original inhabitants of the Moon, shows that they are a genocidal menace. In this case, the argument can be made that nuclear weapons themselves are not the problem. Rather, the problem is that they cannot be employed as a deterrent. An incomplete, but potentially threatening defence is more destabilising than either no defence or one that is a capable deterrent. There is a mixed message regarding pacifism and peace advocacy. Penner is approached by the aliens because he has been an advocate for peace. Apparently, speaking out for peace and cooperation leaves you open to manipulation by aliens, communists, and whatever other inhuman monsters are menacing America. However, it is the lack of peace - in the sense that building nuclear weapons is indicative of a lack of peace - that prompts the aliens to invade Earth when they do. They have been observing Earth for thousands of years; it is only when our technology is approaching the point where we can take our warlike ways into space that they finally see us as a threat. that attitudes towards peace were complex. Peace was desirable, particularly in the wake of the global devastation of the Second World War. Conversely, advocating peace and disarmament while the “other side” prepared for war was seen as suicidal. It was also not clear what could provoke the USSR and Communist China. Would they launch an attack if they thought the US was too weak and passive? Or would an arms build-up lead to a pre-emptive assault? The film also looks at the tension between the scientific and military communities (a standard note of tension in science fiction films of the time). While science and the military are intertwined in many of the films of the era, it is an uneasy partnership. From the military’s initial lack of understanding of Penner’s reasons for quitting the nuclear weapons program to Lamont shifting from proponent of a robust defence to snivelling coward ready to surrender to the aliens, while Major Jay maintains a no-nonsense “just build something to kill the enemy” attitude, the alliance between science and the military is not a comfortable one. Finally, the film touches at the need for unity among the nations of the world. While the story focuses on the United States and the efforts of its American heroes, it is telling that the first clue to the alien’s weakness comes from a Russian scientist working in Moscow. It ultimately takes the efforts of the entire human race to win the war, even though our heroes develop the weapon that can destroy them. This is in contrast to other, similarly themed movies of the time. For example, in The War of the Worlds (1953), the Communist block nations are never mentioned. It is a small moment, a tiny bit of dialogue, but it does reinforce the theme that we all stand or fall together. Invisible Invaders is fun, low-budget movie that has some thematic complexity, although it is hampered by the reliance on stock footage and lacklustre direction and acting. Still, it is worth checking out, if for no other reason than to see how the concerns of the Cold War were reflected in contemporary pop culture. With the spectre of a catastrophic nuclear war hanging over America in the Fifties, it is not surprising PAGE 63