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Monday, March 11, 2019

Invasion of the Star Creatures (1962)




While digging thru my collection I found this movie in a pile of Midnite Movie DVDs. I wasn’t sure if I had ever watched it before but was interested because it was written by Jonathan Haze of Little Shop of Horrors fame. I figured why the heck not and popped it in right away. I did immediately remember watching it before but not much else.

Invasion of the Star Creatures is a comedy that pokes fun at the science fiction movies of the fifties and is an early attempt at parody. The story follows a pair of dense privates named Philbrick and Penn. They are assigned to a missile base and given the very important assignment of carrying supplies as a patrol goes out into the test range to investigate a cave that was exposed during a nuclear explosion. While they are loafing outside the patrol gets captured by the beautiful alien women and their plant monster slaves. Being the sort of soldiers they are Philbrick and Penn soon end up captured as well. Though they are lucky enough to discover the lady alien’s one weakness… kissing. With that they make a break for it and go for help. Some silliness and cultural insensitivity ensue until the pair return to stop the rocket ship from taking off with its report that Earth is primed for invasion.

For the most part this is an odd and utterly forgettable movie, which explains why I didn’t remember watching it. There isn’t much to this story, so it makes sense that it clocks in at around seventy minutes. Being a parody, this movie is a combination of silly sight gags that harken back to the bug-eyed alien movies mixed in with some vaudevillian type bits starring our two leads with mixed results.

Alien Babes!
As a parody Invasion of the Star Creatures does pretty well. They nail the household items repurposed into futuristic gizmos and dials for the control room of the alien base. I also thought the costumes on the female aliens as well as the adolescent fantasy of beautiful alien babes was captured and properly skewered here. They even managed to work the entrance of Bronson Cave into the movie. If you have watched low budget fifties flicks, I guarantee you have seen this before. But best of all were the plant men that were used as muscle for the aliens. The costumes are absurd and perfect if you are poking fun at the genre.

Plant Dudes!
The movie doubles down in its efforts to get some laughs. Philbrick and Pen come off as low rent versions of the Bowery Boys, specifically Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall. They do their best to pull this off and some of it is funny. But this isn’t the sort of thing that can sustain a movie, not even a short one. By the end some of the gags were already wearing thing. There is one particular bit where they are doing a “Scooby Doo” with people running in and out of tunnels and appearing out of order much like the hallway gag that the cartoon would use a few years later.

In the end I found Invasion of the Star Creatures to be a harmless movie that was worth an hour of my time. Will I remember it again in a couple of years? Probably not. I wouldn’t spend too much time trying to track down a copy. I know that Svengoolie plays this a lot on MeTV so if you have that network keep an eye out.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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