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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Invasion From Inner Earth

We close out 1974 on a low note. Bill Rebane’s deservedly obscure Invasion From Inner Earth (IFIE) had a small theatrical release. (note the very low budget poster) IFIE is actually a neat way to close out the year as it tied in the previous made-for-tv movies. It was another survivor group story (and with five main characters too) and insidious aliens. IFIE also had the 70s’ sense of civilization-collapse doom. Listen for the theme music, a rather flagrant paraphrase of the theme from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, (classic western from the mid 60s)

Quick Plot Synopsis
The movie opens with a montage of spinning earth in space, a crude flying saucer, some people running in the streets and a radio announcer talking of people dying of a mysterious disease. Then cut to a remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness. Jake is a young bush pilot who has ferried up three young “scientists” to study something or other. Jake’s sister Sarah tends the cabin Jake flies Stan, Eric and Andy back to civilization, but they are warned not to land due to a mysterious disease. They fly to a closed lodge to look for fuel and supplies. They find neither, but Stan and Andy experience an odd red light. All return to the cabin. Through a very slow series of scenes, it is revealed that people around the world are dying of a mysterious disease. Radio communications are sporadic or lost altogether. The five debate what to do — stay and wait out the problem, or go to a city for help. There are no animals anywhere to hunt. Supplies run low. Andy sees the red light again. Being the rich young jerk type, he decides to steal Jake’s plane and fly back. The red light is in the plane too. Andy screams and the plane blows up. The others pick up an odd alien voice asking how they’re doing, etc. Stan has a theory that the whole things is trouble caused by aliens who came from Mars thousands of years ago and hung out deep in the earth. The aliens have come up and spread disease to get rid of everyone. Jake decides to go for help on the snowmobile. He drives and drives, but the red light gets him too. He disappears all of a sudden. Stan, Sarah and Eric decide to walk out. They trudge and trudge. At a camp, while gathering firewood, Eric sees the red light and wanders off to die in the snow. Stan and Sarah are separated looking for each other, or Eric, but eventually meet up at a small empty town. They hold hands, become young almost-naked children who walk down a grassy hill towards a whitefish flying saucer parked beside the woods. The End.

Why is this movie fun?
Fans of “bad” movies may find much of what they like. Only for the very patient, and forgiving, is there some fun in seeing familiar sci-fi tropes recast into a low-budget indie production.

Cultural Connection
Worlds In Collision — Stan spins a theory of where the aliens came from, and where they’ve been, based on almost nothing the viewer is shown. Instead, he seems to be drawing his “obvious” conclusions from theories proposed by Immanuel Velikovsky. HIs 1950 book, “Worlds in Collision” sought to explain legendary stories and Biblical events as caused by near-collision encounters by Earth and Venus, and earth and Mars. Of course, the “established” scientific community dismissed Velikovsky’s theories. This outcast (by the establishment) status made Velikovsky’s work rather popular on college campuses in the mid-70s, when youth were eager (if not too critical) to accept all things anti-establishment. His theories must have made up the “obvious” pieces that Stan assembled into his whole-cloth theory.

Comet Dating — Some notes on IFIE say it was shot in 1972, but released in 1974. Some of the footage may have been shot earlier, but the Eric character makes mention of the comet Kohoutek while discussing Stan’s theories. That comet was discovered in March 1973, so clearly, most of the final quarter of the film were after that date. The comet Kohoutek is interesting for a couple reasons. One is that it was a huge hype bust. Touted as the “comet of the century” and a “once in a lifetime experience.” it turned out to be an Edsel of an astronomical wonder. It was barely visible with the naked eye. The comet was also significant as just one in a long string of doom signs. Some felt that the comet’s appearing (as weak as that was) foretold the end of the earth in January of 1974. There would be many more doomsday predictions — such as Y2K and the Mayan calendar, etc. — but those were nothing new. Kohoutek was supposed to be one too, and yielded similar results.

Rebane Returns — Director, producer, writer and bottle washer, Bill Rebane first (sort of) brought the world his puzzling sci-fi movie Monster A-Go-Go in 1965. You can read a review of it here. Nine years later, Bill manages to complete a whole movie, though his style (or lack thereof) remains evident. Long talky scenes and most action happening offstage. Bolstered by completing an entire film, Rebane went on to produce/direct three more films. None of them were all that good, but one of them was nominally a sci-fi in 1978, The Alpha Incident and 1975’s Giant Spider Invasion, which will be covered later. Bill had a technical ability as a director, but no particular artist’s skill or eye. Since he made and sold several movies, one must assume he was, at least, a talented salesman.

Rookie Writer — The story and screenplay were penned by Bill Rebane’s wife Barbara. She and Bill were a mom-and-pop team of movie makers at the low low end of the movie pecking order. They produced, directed, edited, etc. Their son even worked as a grip. Bill has his wife Barbara write the story and screenplay for IFIE. Her abilities as a writer matched her husband’s talent as a director.

Can’t Say Goodbye — Perhaps endemic to the Rebane “system”, IFIE doesn’t really have an ending. It just ends. This happens in Rebane’s first venture, Monster A-Go-Go. He had a beginning and a middle, but no ending. Another man added an ending and marketed the film. His wife’s story might have a cohesive (or at least, explained) ending, but with all the time and footage spent on the beginning and the middle of IFIE, there was no time to wrap things up. It too, just ends.

Plane Crazy — In case you were curious, and even if you’re not: Jake’s plane was a Beechcraft Baron. That particular plane was built in 1965. It was sold to Hilgy Aviation in 2006, but suffered substantial damage in May 2008 when the pilot mistakenly raised the landing gear after touchdown in Lansing, Michigan, thinking the lever he was pulling would raise the flaps. The pilot was alone and survived.

Bottom line? IFIE is a very weak film, weakly written, weakly acted and weakly directed. Bill Rebane has a reputation for creating weak films, but IFIE is said to be his weakest. Some say IFIE makes Manos or Plan 9 look good. So, fans of “bad” movies may be amused. Those not big fans of “bad” movies may want to give it a miss.


CavedogRob said...

There's no movie that could make MANOS look good! Lol! I kind of liked this movie too even though it was so bad. I also think it's cool that even though your blog is called Classic Sci-Fi Movies you took the time to review IFIE! Happy Halloween!

Nightowl said...

Hey CB,
Oh, I hear ya on the quality of Manos. It IS hard to beat. As for the selection of movies, I try to be fair. If it's sci-fi, it's in. :-)