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Friday, May 13, 2016

Invasion from the Inner Earth


Invasion from the Inner Earth (aka They)
1974
Bill Rebane

A strange force is sweeping over the world. People run in panic, as vehicles stop working, and a deadly plague kills off millions. Elsewhere in an isolated part of the country (I’m going to go ahead and guess Wisconsin) a hunter Jake (Nick Holt) is bemoaning the lack of wildlife to murder. He’s also the pilot for his sister, Sarah (Debbi Pick) and a group of scientists. After being warned away by an air traffic controller, the group barely land their plane near a cabin. Holed up inside, they all begin to get on each other’s nerves. That is when a mysterious red light appears on the wall…

Bill Rebane, the man who brought us The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), The Alpha Incident (1978) and most of Monster A-Go-Go (1965) is certainly never lacking in ambition even without the means to achieve it.  Invasion from the Inner Earth tackles the extinction of the human race with little more than a few actors and cheap cabin set. It has a promising start. Keeping large scale events at the fringes of the characters’ understanding is a great way to build an eerie tension. For a little while it actually works, in an extremely low rent kind of way. The grungy print, cheap effects, and strange synthesizer music that really hit some aesthetically pleasing buttons for me.
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The real trouble with the film arrives shortly after the characters make themselves at home in the cabin. I usually have have no issue with glacially paced films, nor ones that are much more invested in mysteries than answers, but it becomes very evident that Invasion from the Inner Earth completely runs out of things to do 40 minutes into the story. All forward momentum just stop cold and the viewer is reduced to watching characters dodge a red spot light on the wall for what seems like hours. This section is a leaden mess that would test even the most dedicated b-movie completest.

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However, should you suffer through and survive, there are some wonders to behold on the other side. For starters, one of the scientists, Stan (Paul Bentzen) offers up a theory from seemingly no evidence whatsoever that world is not being invaded by beings from space but ancient Martians who have been living deep in the Earth for thousands of years. Naturally everyone buys it. From there on it’s a quick jaunt to an inexplicable end that I would say was stolen from Phase IV (1974), had the filming of this movie not predated it by a couple of years. The finale is a capstone on a story that has no structure or sense. In that respect it is perfect.

Invasion from the Inner Earth is not a movie I can recommend to anyone except for those with insomnia and people will to suffer though some truly dull stretches of film for a glimpse at a few precious moments where b-movie SF and outside cinema cross borders.


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