Invasion from Inner Earth (1974)

“This is as pointless and purposeless as Peter Fonda’s Idaho Transfer of 1973. A better soundtrack would help. And throw in A PLOT as well.”
— A well-said comment by You Tuber Lee Larson on the film’s upload


So, after Monster a Go-Go in 1965, producer, writer and director Bill Rebane took a decade-long break.

He should have stayed on break.

I have a feeling Bill Van Ryn of Drive-In Asylum and Groovy Doom loves this; movies where “nothing happens” is his groove. Well, groove on, Billy. Groove on. No polyester jackets required.

So there’s no questioning — regardless of the VHS and DVD reissues and box-set repacks — as to when this was made: Yes. this is a real, ’60s to ’70s era radio studio. Yes. That is a (blue) ashtray, to your left, as smoking in radio studios was oh, so 1970s.

Anyway . . . Bill Rebane came back with a vengeance in this, his second feature film, with plot points he later recycled into his follow up non-epics The Giant Spider Invasion (1975) and The Alpha Incident (1978) — the former which actually received a wide spread theatrical release and screened at my local duplex because, well, because Alan Hale, Jr. — yes, the Skipper from TV’s Gilligan’s Island — and Barbara Hale — yes, the Della Street, the long-time secretary to TV’s Perry Mason — still had some UHF-TV rerun stank on them to get us, i.e., sucker us, through the doors. We knew enough to avoid The Alpha Incident until it appeared as a late night UHF-TV’er, since a washed up Ralph Meeker (who acted alongside Charlton Heston at Northwestern University) and George “Buck” Flowers didn’t have any iconic TV stank on them to get us into the doors.

No, the proceedings on either of those films got any better nor improved on their earlier Invasion from Inner Earth model. Yes, if you’ve seen The Alpha Incident, you’ve seen this, and vise versa. In fact: the same thing happens in Rebane’s The Capture of Bigfoot (1979; back to nobody-never-heard-of actors, natch), only a bigfoot — not connected to aliens — is responsible for the mystery. Oh, and nothing comes from “in” the Earth; the “it” comes from outer space. So, leave your zombie hopes on the deep woods’ cabin porch, Cletus.

What else should we expect from the guy who decided putting a ukelele-playing Tiny Tim (a huge, but very odd ’60s celebrity, Wiki him) in a slasher film with Blood Harvest (1987) was a good idea. Lest not we forget Rebane’s haunted piano romp with The Demons of Ludlow (1983). Did we forget his Loch Ness mess with Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake (1981), and his millionaires trap people in a mansion comedy, The Game (1984)?

Yes. On purpose.

Hey, we’ll remember Rebane’s production of The Devonsville Terror (1983) because a film directed by Ulli Lommel starring his wife Suzanna Love, along with Donald “I’ll take anything” Pleasence, along with Robert Walker, Jr. and character-actor extraordinaire Paul Wilson isn’t a film you question: you watch. Oh, and Twister’s Revenge! (1988; part of this month’s Mill Creek “Drive-In Classic” review blow out) . . . that epic isn’t about killer weather: it’s a comedy about a computerized, Knight Rider-esque monster truck. No really. Do we want to find a copy of his paranormal “trip to the other side” romp that is his final film, Ghostly Obsessions (2004)? Do we, really? Do we? DO YOU?

Uh, no. . . ?

There’s no zombies here. Just aliens. Move along, your Romero vagabond.

Well, there you have it, then. So goes the mind of the pride of Riga, Latvia, in this grafting of The Thing (the original, not the remake) on to Raimi’s later The Evil Dead. Only not as good — not even close — to either, is what is sorta-kinda is happening here. In fact, instead of “The Thing,” this was also called They in some distribution quarters — not to be confused with the James Whitmore-starring Them!, which is about giant ants . . . that actually do come from inner earth.

Look, an Ed Woodian flying saucer arrives at Earth. Then planes crash. Cars stall. The UFO crashes in a swamp, and spews a red gas (fuel?) that infects the town. Wait, was it an alien “bomb” of some sort? (It’s not clear and I don’t care.) Uh, so, people get sick and die . . . the infection spreads and, before you know it: a plague has wiped out the planet and an alien invasion is at hand.

Anyway, since planes can’t fly anymore (a guy steals a plane and tries to escape; it crashes), four Canadian bush pilots hold up in a better-than-Raimi-dump-of-a cabin (but we are actually in Wisconsin, U.S.A. where Rebane shot all of his films) to wait out the invasion . . . or whatever the hell is going on, here.

Oh, wait something is going on here. It’s just not all exactly clear, because the-ac-tor-re-ads-in-this-fi-lm-dr-i-ve-yo-u-to-no-t-li-sten-to-the-bug-e-tary move-the-non-plot exposition.

There’s junk science babbling about Mars and the Earth were once closer to each other than the Earth and the moon are now. And something about the planet alignments (oh, no, not more “Jupiter Effect” preambles). And about the Comet Kohoutek (discovered in 1973). And electromagnetic fields. And the inhabitants of Mars escaping their planet’s destruction. And the Holy Bible’s 7th seal. And something about a giant, immense rose. And Florida rising out of the ocean. And a newscast telling us about “worldwide UFO sightings and mass illness.” And an interview with a hick who claims he was “abducted by aliens from Uranus.” And, apparently, the “they” are from Uranus, as a TV broadcast — suddenly — is knocked off the air. “Something is blocking our transmission,” we’re told. Boy Howdy! And I thought the Georgia-made UFO: Target Earth (1974) piled on the Jesus-comet-aligned planets plot absurdities. Well, at least it’s not as inept as the Colorado-made The Spirits of Jupiter (1984). Or is it?

Yeah, for this is just a bunch of people walking around in the snow collecting firewood, riding snow mobiles, making campfires and talking-in-staccato because they-are-acting!

Oy! The bad acting.

The no-effects — expect for the red smoke bomb in the swamp. An annoying, all-too-loud, bonkers soundtrack stock-stolen from Lord knows where, that goes to-and-fro from electronic nausea, to folk guitar, to ragtime band clarinets. And not once — not once — is there any indication the aliens are, say, Atlantians, rising up from inside the Earth. And when the aliens do show up (or was that their spaceships; don’t know, don’t care), it’s a swatch of red cellophane (rubberbanded) over a flashlight because, well, remember the red smoke bombs? Oh, and radios make sounds, we are told, “that’s not the radio” . . . so, er, that must be the aliens, talking, or something?

You can watch Invasion from Inner Earth for free — don’t you dare pay a dime for this one — on You Tube. However, if you’d like a bargain-priced version for your collection, you can have it as part of Mill Creek’s Nightmare Worlds 50-Film Pack/IMDb alongside UFO: Target Earth and Alien Species — both which we also reviewed this week, so look for ’em!

Get your copy! Image courtesy of JohnGrit/Unisquare.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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