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Friday, February 5, 2016

No Survivors Please


No Survivors Please
1964
 Hans Albin, Peter Berneis

The concept of aliens stealing our bodies and masquerading as us is not a new one. This preys on our fear of being invaded from within. But what about the invaders? It's a boon to our sense of horror to keep them alien and unknown. However, it's refreshing to see a story were we get a peak at what goes on behind the scenes with the antagonists. No Survivors Please tackles this concept and liberally doses it with some black humor to keep things from getting to grim.

No Survivors Please opens with a man driving while receiving instructions on crashing a plane with the President of the United States on board. He handles the whole thing very matter-of-factually, even having a conversation with his soon to be dead co-pilot about life insurance. Soon, the world is reeling from a number of seemingly fatal accidents involving prominent politicians only to have them miraculously survive their brush with death. What's worse, is that these surviving VIPs seem to be pushing the world closer and closer to nuclear war. A few people begin to suspect that other forces are at play.

"Nice cowboy shirt. Which gas station did you buy it at?"

No Survivors Please is a very cost effective film, there are no real special effects, any scenes of accidents are edited together from stock footage, including some very real disasters. The overall effect is a little jarring but it gets the point across, even if using real life suffering is pretty distasteful. What's most interesting is that we spend a lot of time with the invaders. They go about their work with a certain dry wit, almost like arranging the death of people in hopes of triggering an atomic war is just another day at the office. We even have a note of loneliness as one of the invaders wishes he'd was back home rather than on Earth.

David Lynch? What are you doing here?
The unfolding of the conspiracy happens gradually, No Survivors Please keeps returning to a mysterious voice that instructs seemingly normal people to do horrendous acts. The film doesn't play out this mystery forever and instead switches gears to more of a political thriller as we watch people uncover the truth and race to warn someone in authority before the aliens can stop them. The slow burn nature of the story works against these moments of tension. This film isn't anywhere near as artful in twisting the knot of conspiracy tighter and tighter like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). It is maybe just a little too slow paced for its own good.

No Survivors Please flirts with being black comedy all the way up until the end when it goes out on a grim punchline. It's a very curious body snatcher style film that subverts a lot of the tropes established by Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's very low budgeted, but crafted and acted well enough to hold the viewer's interest. If you think you've seen all these early invasion films have to offer give it a try.

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