Review by Hugh Robertson ©2015
Starring Hans Bachmann, A. Thomas Smith, Kenneth W. Baker, Robert Biedermann, Philip J. Cook, John Cooke, Tim Davis, Rick Foucheux, Norman Gagnon, George Stover, Aylor Wells
Produced by John R. Ellis
Written and Directed by Philip J. Cook
An Air Force bus driving to Clarksburg Air Force Base is suddenly attacked at night by a group of soldiers who kill all but one of the soldiers on the bus. The surviving soldier flees into the woods only to be incinerated by a strange red light from the sky. This unusual incident sparks an investigation by the Department of Defense and the interest of the editor of “The National Scandal” newspaper. The editor calls in his star reporter, Frank McCall, who has just returned from covering a two-headed dog. Sensing a U.F.O. angle, McCall goes to the scene of the incident where he meets the two investigating Department of Defense agents.
After examining the incinerated body the agents journey to Clarksburg Air Force Base and McCall follows them believing there may be some connection to the incident, especially since a new jet is being tested that night at the base. The stealth jet utilizes a new computerized auto pilot program, but unfortunately the new program goes awry as it malfunctions and crashes during the test.
During the confusion McCall is kidnapped by a group of “Men In Black” and held in a warehouse at the base for what seems to be an alien brainwashing attempt. Before the “Men In Black” can succeed, however, McCall is rescued by the Department of Defense agents. They take him into custody and destroy his film, but when they attempt to leave the base they are shot at by the same soldiers who attacked the Air Force bus. Then mysterious lights flash and a U.F.O. appears which incinerates one of the Department of Defense agents. McCall and the other agent, Captain Harry Anders, speed away in a car and finally escape the base. When they reach the Department of Defense headquarters they are determined to find out what happened and to stop whatever has been causing the deadly incidents before they are attacked again.
Written, directed, shot, and edited by Philip J. Cook, “Invader” is a low budget production that still succeeds on its own merits. While the story is convoluted, it is original and makes good use of some natural locations in the Washington D.C. area. Although the locations of a couple of scenes are cheaply done and some of the lighting is overly garish and overbearing, Cook does some great camerawork and shot selection to rise above the usual low budget fare. The music and sound effects are lackluster, but the editing is especially well done with a great sense of timing and the quick cuts needed when the action speeds up. Hans Bachmann as Frank McCall and A. Thomas Smith as Captain Harry Anders both do a great job of acting their parts, but the rest of the cast stays fairly bland.
The interaction between McCall and his editor does provide some of the humor of the film with the subtle satirical style of the portrayal of “The National Scandal” stories being a nice touch. One of the main highlights of the film is the stop motion animation by Kent Burton. Although obviously working on a low budget, his miniatures and models look great. The U.F.O. looks realistic and the flight scenes with the jets are well done. While some of the effects, like an exploding helicopter, look cheap and the animation at the end is a little clunky and could have been smoother, it is no worse than Willis O’Brien’s work on “The Giant Behemoth”.
While this film will never match the effects or budget of “Independence Day” or “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, it is reminiscent of the B-movie science fiction pictures of the 1950’s and will definitely provide an enjoyable viewing experience for those who can find the film. On the Smash or Trash film scale I give this picture a 6 out of 10.
Interested in watching it? You can buy INVADER HERE.