Friday, September 17, 2021


Alan Bridges

Invasion takes its time to get going, but slowly the pieces fall into place. An unknown object lands on Earth and a strange figure stumbles out of the woods only to be struck by a drunk couple driving home from a party. They reluctantly take him to a hospital where he is unresponsive. Two other figures in similar clothing approach the hospital as a forcefield envelopes the building. Both parties claim that the other is a criminal, but who is telling the truth?

In comparison to the number of science-fiction films that came out of the United States in the 1950s-1960s, there were few that came out of the U.K. They are so few that it is relatively easy to keep track of them, so it was a delight to encounter one that fell through the cracks. Invasion follows along with the main body of British SF from this period in that it is more concerned with ideas rather than action. This is partially due to budget restrictions, but it is an element that reoccurs so often it seems to just be a part of the British approach to the medium.

Sobriety test - IN SPACE!

Invasion was written by Robert Holmes, who penned several episodes of Doctor Who, and this film could have been turned into a Doctor Who script with only some minor changes. Much like early Doctor Who, the story is told largely though dialog and contains very little in the way of action. The pacing is slow even at 82 minutes, but it carefully metes out the complications to keep the drama escalating. There is even a nice moral grayness to the conflict as the aliens don’t really seem to care who they kill as long as they achieve their goals, this goes for prisoner and jailers alike. What is less defensible is casting the aliens with Asian actors so as to make them appear exotic. To make things worse one of the nurses is also Asian which allows one of the aliens to take her place and none of the white cast can tell the difference. Although probably an accurate recreation of what might have happened in 1965, it has not aged well and mars an otherwise mild film.

"We removed your appendix. All six of them."

Visually there isn’t much to note. The few special effects shots are serviceable and don’t get in the way of the believability of the narrative. The copy I saw was sourced from a video tape and the image was dull and washed-out. There are several parts of the film where dialogue sounds like it was added later and it is very difficult to understand some of it. These are minor issues that shouldn't impact your overall viewing experience.

If you’re already a fan of British SF from this period and especially a Doctor Who completist, Invasion is an interesting if lackluster film. If you are looking to approach this subgenre, I wouldn’t start here, take a look at the Quatermass films for something that is similar but much more inviting in terms of production and pacing. 

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