The alien invasion that humans wrote fictional tales, created television series and movies about, and established protocols for, had finally arrived on Earth in the form of a single spaceship and one lone alien.
The alien was a multidimensional being and therefore able to be simultaneously present in all the offices of the two hundred and thirty-two global superpowers, ranking in population from China to Vatican City. Efforts were made, of course, to subdue and in some cases even kill the extraterrestrial, however none of the attempts met with success.
In a demonstration of power, the alien disintegrated all chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear, and explosive weapons of mass destruction, as well as any weapon designed to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. Once confirmation of the demonstration was verified by the world leaders, the weaponless humans had no other option than to listen to the alien’s demands.
The being from another world had only one:
“Bring this human to me, alive and unharmed,” the alien said in all languages, as it implanted the image in the mind of every human being on the planet of a small African American woman in her forties with a once beautiful face that had been worn down by exhaustion.
The woman turned out to be forty-three-year-old Mary Gladys Stockwell of Highland, New York, and to her credit, she surrendered herself to the proper authorities before any of her neighbors or coworkers could turn her in.
She was transported to the coordinates provided, a wheatfield in Davenport, Washington, to meet face to face with the alien, who arrived via transporter beam.
Mary, never one to mince words or stand upon ceremony, asked the creature, “Why am I here?”
“To decide the fate of your world,” answered the alien.
“I don’t understand.”
The alien seemed to consider his approach carefully, asking, “Do you believe in a higher power?”
Mary answered with pride, “I’m a Protestant and I attend an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church every Sunday without fail. I’m not sure if you understand what any of that means, but the simple answer is, yes, I do believe in a Higher Power. We call Him God Almighty.”
“The universe is rich with entities and energies that exist outside the grasp of even our vast understanding, but as for your world, we populated it with a host of experimental species to see which, if any, could rise to sapience.”
“So, you’re telling me that you’re God? That you created life on Earth?”
“We planted the seed from which life sprouted. How you label us is your own affair.”
“Wait a minute,” Mary said. “Let’s suppose for a minute that you’re telling the truth…”
“You are no threat to us,” the alien said matter of factly. “We have no reason for dishonesty.”
“Then answer me this, why would the Creator wish to destroy His creation?”
“We will answer your question with a question, why is the life we provided for you not enough? Why do you hate? Why do you war? Why do you abuse, torture, and kill?”
After a long moment of silence, Mary was forced to admit, “I don’t have an answer for that.”
“That is why we are here.”
“To clean house?” Mary asked.
“And you’re putting that decision in my hands?”
Mary blew out a breath of exasperation. Talking to this alien was like pulling teeth. “What is it I’m supposed to do exactly?”
“Choose whether you live or die.”
“If you choose to sacrifice yourself,” the alien explained. “We will spare the human race and erase the concepts of hate and evil from every mind on the planet.”
“And if I choose to live?”
“We will disintegrate every human except you.”
“And I’ll be here alone?”
“Yes. It is the way you prefer to live your life, is it not?”
“Not at the expense of everyone else,” Mary blurted out. “What happens when I die?”
“Then the planet will begin its healing process and we shall see if any of the remaining species can or will evolve into sapience.”
A thought began dawning on Mary, “Is that why I was chosen? Because I’m a loner, a person with no friends or living family members? Or because you somehow know that I’m not an altruistic person?”
“Yes to both.”
“And what if I make no choice at all?”
“We will destroy everything. All species and the planet itself.”
“No pressure, huh?” Mary said. “Look, just because I don’t have anyone in my life, doesn’t mean I want to die.”
“Then choose life.”
“But I don’t want anyone else to die, either. You said it yourself that you could remove hatred and evil from all of our minds, right? Why not just do that? Why play this silly game?”
“We need to see if the human race is worth saving.”
Then it clicked for her. “You’ve read our Bibles, haven’t you? You need proof of our selflessness. Just like in the Old and New Testaments, you require a sacrifice.”
“Yes.” the alien confirmed.
“How long do I have to decide?” Mary asked.
“We will grant you one day. Return to us tomorrow at this time, at this spot,” the alien said before vanishing within a beam of transporter energy.
The car that brought Mary to the wheatfield was parked on the main road as instructed. When the alien departed, the driver picked Mary up and drove her to the Davenport City Hall building.
Mary had been unaware that her entire conversation with the alien had been broadcast into every mind on the planet and when she arrived at city hall, she was mobbed by news reporters, government officials, and the town locals, who bombarded her with question after question. Once inside the building, she even received a phone call from the President of the United States. Everyone wanted to know the same thing:
“What are you going to do?”
“I have to make a choice, I suppose,” was the answer she offered to everyone, which suited not one person.
From then on Mary wasn’t able to get a word in edgewise because the comments came flying at her:
“You don’t have no family so you ain’t got nothing to lose!”
“We all assumed you’d make the right choice and take your own life.”
“What about my wife and two daughters? We’ve always been good people, helping those in need and putting others before ourselves. Don’t we deserve to live?”
“I want to assure you that your sacrifice will not be in vain! Tomorrow, when you make the correct and only choice, that day will become not just a national but a global holiday in your memory! We will never forget!”
Then the tide turned ugly and people began getting angry and accusing her of being selfish.
“How am I selfish?” Mary shouted at the crowd. “I haven’t even made my decision yet! It’s oh so easy for all of you to sit in judgment because you’re not the one who has to make the hard choice! Can’t any of you understand how difficult it is to be in my shoes right now?”
And that was when the jeering and racial epithets began. Again, to Mary’s credit, she remained calm, explaining, “Look, all I need is some time alone with my own thoughts without everybody shouting at me what I need to do. I promise I’ll weigh the whole thing out.”
Mary never saw where the first rock came from. It struck her in the back of her head and she wasn’t even aware that she’d been hit. There was a sharp pain, she grunted, and dropped to her knees in confusion. The second rock struck her in the temple, knocking her down to the floor.
Someone in the crowd screamed, but it wasn’t in horror, it was most definitely rage, and it served as the ember that ignited a frenzy that no one could have rightfully explained later on. Bricks, glass bottles, baseball bats, lead pipes, all rained down on the woman from New York, and those without a weapon, spat, kicked and stomped on her body that automatically curled into a protective fetal position.
When the madness eventually passed, and the townsfolk saw in the clear light of day what they had done, some tried to justify it with a “She gave us no other choice!” others couldn’t keep the contents of their stomachs from gurgling up and spewing out, and the rest ran back to the safety of their homes.
Three farmers collected Mary’s lifeless body and placed it gingerly in the back of a pickup truck. They drove to the rendezvous point and laid her body out on the field, making sure to straighten out her clothes and removed the matted clumps of bloodied hair from her face, and crossed her arms over her chest, before driving off.
The following day, when the alien returned, its expression was not what anyone would have expected. The extraterrestrial appeared to be saddened by the sight of Mary Gladys Stockwell’s corpse. It knelt beside her and softly spoke a few words in a language no one understood, a prayer, perhaps. Then the alien carefully took her body into his arms, rose slowly, and said in all languages to all the planetary sapient minds, “You have failed yourselves.”
The alien along with Mary Gladys Stockwell’s cold body, faded in the brilliant light of the teleportation beam, as humans all across the globe began to wilt like flowers deprived of water, until they decayed to nothing but dust, hopefully to be carried off by the wind in order to fertilize the crops for a better form of life to grow.
The heavens. Once an object of superstition, awe, and fear, now a vast region for growing knowledge. The distance of Venus, the atmosphere of Mars, the size of Jupiter, and the speed of Mercury. All this and more we know. But their greatest mystery the heavens have kept a secret. What sort of life, if any, inhabits these other planets? Human life, like ours? Or life extremely lower in the scale? Or dangerously higher? Seeking the answer to this timeless question, forever seeking, is the constant preoccupation of scientists everywhere. Scientists famous and unknown. Scientists in great universities, and in modest homes. Scientists of all ages.
That was the opening narration of an alien invasion film that predates “Independence Day”, “District 9”, and even “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Hello, and welcome to Madd Fictional Media, where today we’ll be taking a look at the 1953 science fiction classic, “Invaders From Mars.”
Oh, and if you haven’t guessed, we intend to walk you through the film, and that’s as close to a spoiler warning as we’re prepared to give you for a movie that’s been out since the 50s. If you’d rather not have the plot ruined for you, you know what to do.
Please note: If this is your first exposure to “Invaders From Mars” and you choose to stay, you’ll no doubt find it outdated and corny, but, if you can step outside of that mindset, and take a look at what the movie gets right, who knows, you just might enjoy yourself, and add a new classic sci-fi film to your watch list.
Now, any film buff worth their salt knows that the mark of a good film begins with a snapshot of the world the movie is set in, so that the audience can get their footing before the plot kicks in. And when you come across a great film, you’ll discover the same effect is achieved with little to no expository dialogue.
As low budget as Invaders appears to be, it does a fantastic job of providing a proper backdrop for the film. We understand instantly the reality in which this story takes place, with the family profession, the placement of the Rockwellian farmhouse, and our young protagonist’s interest, without any of the worldbuilding getting in the way. It’s a very barebones approach to a film that wastes no time getting the audience stuck in.
After the opening credits, our focus turns to the bedroom of 10-year-old David MacLean, played by Jimmy Hunt. His window is wide open, with a telescope poking out of it, which suggests that he’s an amateur astronomer.
His alarm clock goes off at 4 AM, and he’s startled out of sleep, fumbles to shut it off, and quickly stuffs it under his pillow to muffle the noise.
George MacLean, played by Leif Erickson, hears the alarm, and assumes it’s time to get up, but his wife, Mary, played by Hillary Brooke, points out that it’s only 4 in the morning.
George figures out that it’s his son, and as he enters the boy’s room, prepared to give him a good talking to, he sees David with his eye pressed to the telescope, examining an astronomical event that won’t happen again for six years.
And George is immediately invested! Which shows us they’re not just father and son, they’re best buds! And David has probably taken up aspects of his father’s scientific profession as a hobby. And the pair would have probably stayed up all night long, if Mary didn’t show up to put both her boys to bed.
It’s a simple show don’t tell bonding moment that illustrates the family norm. Yes, it’s inconvenient that David woke the entire household, but his parents aren’t angry. They understand, and support, his scientific interests, the way good parents should.
Roughly 40 minutes later, David is awakened again, this time by a noise that sounds like a thunderstorm, and when he looks out the window, he sees a flying saucer land in the sandpit on the hill just behind the house.
When David wakes his dad, and tells him about what he saw, the important thing to note is that George doesn’t disbelieve David, even though he tries to calm his son down by telling him it was just a dream. But unbeknownst to David, George is part of a scientific research team working on a secret project, and he feels what David saw might be related to it, so he goes out to the sandpit to investigate.
Morning comes, and George hasn’t returned, so Mary calls the police, and two officers (played by Charles Cane and Douglas Kennedy) conduct a search, and they wind up disappearing as well.
George eventually returns home but from the moment we first lock eyes on him, we can tell he’s a totally different man. He has a thousand-yard stare that would spook a zombie, and he’s disconnected and irritable, not at all like the affable man we saw earlier.
When questioned about his whereabouts, he curtly states that he stopped over to see their neighbor, Bill Wilson. But when George sits down, David spots a puncture wound on the back of his father’s neck.
When he asks about it, George backhands him hard enough to knock the young boy to the floor. And you can tell by David’s shocked expression that his father has never raised a hand to him before in his life.
Before Mary can question what happened, the policemen return, and they’re also noticeably different, robotic and distant, and although we don’t see it, David spots puncture wounds on the back of their necks, identical to his father’s.
I wasn’t fortunate enough to catch this in the theater when the film first opened. It was a little before my time. I watched it as a young boy in the mid 1960’s on late night television, after sneaking into the living room while my family was asleep.
This scene is where the first real fear came into play, because the film introduced a new concept to my young mind. I was used to monsters looking like the creature from the black lagoon, or something easily identifiable. But I was totally unprepared for the idea that monsters could wear the faces of the people you loved and cared about most in the world. That they could be changed into cold, unfeeling strangers overnight without your knowledge.
Yes, I know now that it was a popular theme during the cold war era of science fiction films, but as kid I didn’t know anything about the Red Scare. All I knew with a certainty was that monsters were real, and aliens existed and their only purpose was to take over our world.
But I digress.
Later, David, having a scientific mindset, takes his telescope outside, and trains it on the sandpit, where he witnesses the disappearance of a young girl, Kathy Wilson, played by Janine Perreau. He runs to tell the girl’s mother, played by an uncredited Fay Baker, but in the middle of his story, Kathy returns.
And she’s perfectly cast in this role, because she has the creepiest expression ever witnessed by human eyes. If you woke up in the middle of the night and found her staring at you, you’d instinctively reach for a weapon, or holy water and a crucifix. And maybe even a stake, if you had one handy.
This is not meant to be a slight on the actor’s looks at all, she grew up to be a very beautiful woman. All I’m saying is that stare was visually the creepiest thing about the film. It still gives me chills to this day. Good job, Janine.
Meanwhile, George and Mary are heading into town, but first, he wants to show his wife something out by the sandpit. This leads to another scary event. I mean, who wouldn’t be frightened by a sandpit sinkhole that sang a tune in the eerie vocal effect of a chorus as the swirling sand swallowed you whole?
Nothing’s been right since he saw the saucer land, so David decides to go to the police station to get help, but Police Chief Barrows (played by an uncredited Bert Freed) also has that strange puncture wound on the back of his neck. And David winds up being locked in detention until his father can pick him up.
Desk Sergeant Finlay (played by an uncredited Walter Sande) is concerned about David’s mental wellbeing and puts a call through to Dr. Pat Blake (played by Helena Carter) from the city health department.
David asks to see the back of Dr. Blake’s neck and I have to admit that for at least a solid week and a half after watching this movie, I asked to see the backs of everyone’s neck who spoke to me. They must have thought I was crazy, and they were right, just not on this occasion.
David tells Dr. Blake the entire story and in another amazing turn of events, she doesn’t automatically dismiss the boy’s claims. Instead, she calls her astronomer friend, Dr. Stuart Kelston (played by Arthur Franz) to validate David’s story.
While Dr. Blake is on the phone, Mary arrives at the station to pick up her son, and David is happy to see her, unaware that she now has that same thousand-yard stare. Then George shows up and David tries to resist them taking him home.
Re-enter Dr. Blake who stops them from taking David from the police station under the guise that the boy is showing possible signs of having the poliovirus and must be taken to the hospital isolation ward for observation.
Dr. Blake takes David to the observatory and Dr. Kelston describes a theory that the Martians have developed a race of slaves called MYU-Tants, not mutants, MYU-Tants to travel to Earth and stop us from developing space flight (which is the top-secret project that David’s father is a part of) in order to maintain an existence on their dying planet.
In a bit of lucky coincidence, they turn the telescope to David’s house and spot George MacLean leading General Mayberry (played by an uncredited William Forrest) and pushing him into the sandpit. Now Drs. Blake and Kelston are 100% on David’s side. Kelston immediately calls his contact, Colonel Fielding (played by Morris Ankrum) to get the army on the case.
Kelston postulates that the Martian ship is hiding beneath the sandpit, having used a radioactive ray that can melt right through the earth. In another stroke of coincidence, one of Fielding’s officer’s, Sergeant Rinaldi (played by Max Wagner) strikes off on his own to investigate the sandpit and gets sucked in while the military watches, offering proof that the threat is real.
Word comes through that Kathy Wilson died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage, and Dr. Blake attends the autopsy and uncovers a strange bit of technology buried in the little girl’s brain that they assume to be a mind control device. By reverse engineering the device, the military figures they stands a chance of locating the broadcast’s point of origin.
While the Army tanks are en route to the sandpit. The mind-controlled humans begin destroying facilities connected to the top secret space rocket project, and those who successfully complete their mission, die from cerebral hemorrhages due to the control crystal exploding in their heads.
Other mind-slaves are not so lucky. General Mayberry is killed while attempting to blow up a rocket scheduled for launch, and David’s parents are apprehended as they unsuccessfully try to kill one of the secret project’s top scientists, Dr. Bill Wilson (played by an uncredited Robert Shayne) who happens to be Kathy’s father. Hearing the fate of the other mind-slaves, David is naturally worried about what will happen to his parents.
The army tanks arrive and surround the field around the sandpit. Then a unit determines the approximate spot where people have been sucked into the sand, dig a hole, pack it with explosives, and blast a pathway into the Martians’ underground lair.
Dr. Blake receives a call telling her that David’s parents are on the operating table. When she walks the boy to a secluded spot to break the news to him, the pair are sucked into the sandpit and carried by MYU-Tants to the Martian Intelligence (played by and uncredited Luce Potter). The being, described as “mankind developed to its ultimate intelligence,” is interrogating them through a mind-controlled Sergeant Rinaldi and when Dr. Blake refuses to answer any questions, she is forced onto a table and the drill machine used to implant the mind-control device inches toward the nape of her neck.
Fielding, Kelston and a small detachment breach the tunnel beneath the sandpit and make their way to the Martian ship, fighting MYU-Tants along the way. They manage to save Dr. Blake before she’s enslaved but the ship is preparing for take-off, so Fielding orders his men to pack the saucer with explosives.
The problem is, David’s missing, having been carted off by Rinaldi. Fielding orders all available men to go looking for the boy.
The timer is set and starts counting down, but the MYU-Tants use the radioactive ray to seal off the tunnel leading to the escape route.
David is rescued. And he suggests using the Martian radioactive ray to burn a hole to the outside. The tension builds as the explosive timer ticks down to zero and everyone has evacuated the tunnels and are running for cover. David’s run feels like an eternity just like in a dream when you’re running for dear life and not getting anywhere. And the events of the movie are playing out over his frightened face, almost as if his life is flashing before his eyes.
That scene, expertly done, made me nervous and had me chanting under my breath for him to run!
The spaceship lifts off and explodes and David wakes up in his bed during a thunderstorm. He races to his parents’ bedroom, confused and frightened. They’re both alive and back to their normal selves. They reassure him that he was just having a bad dream, and George puts him back to bed.
But at 4:40 AM, David hears a loud noise like thunder, goes to his window, and the movie ends with him witnessing the very same flying saucer from his nightmare, slowly descending into the sandpit.
As previously mentioned, Invaders from Mars was released in 1953 just when science fiction was becoming a major Hollywood genre, adapted from John Tucker Battle’s original screenplay which was based on a nightmare that terrified his wife.
The script found its way to producer Edward L. Alperson and the original intention was to go for a 3D shoot, but the 3D craze was beginning to die down by the time filming began, so that idea was abandoned. And as it was delegated to the Saturday matinee class of space thrillers aimed at children the budget shrank to $290,000.
This meant the script needed an overhaul, so Richard Blake was brought in to downscale the global invasion into something that would fit within the tinier budget. Blake’s solution was to turn the story into a dream, a change that upset John Tucker Battle so much that he had his name removed from the credits.
I think this was a mistake on Battle’s part. Having read Battle’s 1950 revised draft, most of the key elements remained intact. All Blake did, besides adding the dream element, was tighten up the pace by removing unnecessary elements (like David’s dog, Cricket) and tweaking the initial interaction between David and his father. In Battle’s script, George MacLean, was a little gruffer about his sleep being disturbed, disbelieved David’s U-F-O sighting, and fed his son leftover flu medication to put the boy to sleep, even though David wasn’t sick. I don’t know about you, but slipping your kid a mickey finn at 4 in the morning hardly qualifies you for parent of the year, in my book. Also, the thing that leads George to investigate the sandpit in the early morning, was the disturbing noises made by their cow that was being a nosey parker on the hill. Maybe my bias is showing but I prefer Blake’s take on the story.
Again, I digress.
The film was then rushed into production in an attempt to beat George Pal’s “War of the Worlds” to theaters, making it the first feature film to show flying saucers and aliens in color.
Other budgetary changes Included Alperson hiring an all B-List cast and assigning the directing chores to William Cameron Menzies, who had directed before but was primarily known for his ingenious work on production design (a concept he practically invented) at the time.
As you can imagine, the special effects were done on the cheap. The effect of the Martian radioactive wave melting the tunnel walls was achieved by an overhead angle of oatmeal boiling in a pot, with red food coloring mixed in and shot with a red light. The cooled bubble tunnel walls were actually thousands of latex condoms blown up and pasted to the walls (and if you pay close attention, you can see them wobbling whenever anyone runs past). And the MYU-Tants were plush velour jump-suited extras with visible zipper seams running down their spines.
Jack Cosgrove created matte paintings of the MacLean house and the telescopic view of the atomic rocket, as well as glass paintings of a number of saucer interiors, including the angle down the glass tube above the Martian operating table.
The scenes of the military regiments rolling in when Colonel Fielding summoned troops to surround the sandpit, were accomplished by Edward Alperson using stock footage of a World War 2 training film on how to transport tanks by rail.
And then there was the infamous repetition of shots. In the underground tunnels leading to the Martian ship, the scenes of shuffling MYU-Tants and running soldiers are reused and disguised by flipping the scenes horizontally, to make it appear that there are more than six MYU-Tants present. The same trick is used when David’s parents attempt to flee from the army soldiers, when Rinaldi drags David out of the Martian operation room, when the soldiers open fire on a MYU-Tant and drop it in its tracks, only to have the fallen MYU-Tant rise and get shot again by reusing the same shot from seconds before, and when the army tanks open fire on the spot in the sandpit that the Martian ship is launching from.
Despite all this, one of the things that impresses me today is, even though it’s all a dream, David is somehow grounded in reality. He never overpowers an adult or goes toe to toe with a MYU-Tant. He’s constrained by the laws of physics of what a boy his age and size can do. That doesn’t make him any less a hero. His actions are responsible for mobilizing an armed response to an alien invasion and he’s in the thick of the action every step of the way. He’s a 10-year-old boy who marches with soldiers and manages to keep stride.
Once you realize that the story is being dreamed, all of the odd camerawork and effects make sense, as they added flourishes of dreamlike surrealism. David’s house was the most elaborate indoor set because it was a place he was most familiar with. Other indoor sets, the ones David hadn’t seen every day (the police station, the observatory, and the Martian saucer) were spartan, consisting of elongated structures with stark, unadorned walls, sometimes much taller than necessary to emphasize David’s smallness in the face of authority and the unknown.
Oh, I should mention Raoul Kraushaar’s curious musical score, especially the Martian chorus as people are sucked into the whirlpool of the sandpit. What’s even creepier than the eerie and foreboding melody is that fact that David and Dr. Blake can actually hear it just before the sandpit swallows them.
A year later, the film was scheduled to be released in the UK, but the run time was too short, and the dream narrative didn’t meet the demanding standards of the British film distributor, so additional footage was shot to expand the planetarium scene (causing wardrobe and background set continuity errors, not to mention new Jimmy Hunt’s growth spurt and older appearance) the U.S. ending was replaced with a more straightforward conclusion of David, Blake and Kelston seeking cover behind an army tank before the Martian saucer explodes overhead, and Dr. Blake assuring David that his parents are safe now that the Martian saucer was destroyed. This version ends in David’s bedroom, where he’s been put to bed by Kelston and Blake. Standing at his door, they wish him a good night.
In my humble opinion, the U-S ending stands head and shoulders above this, but hey, to each their own. Different bikes for different likes as they say.
Have you seen the film? If so, which version, American or British? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Nostalgia certainly plays a big part of my love for Invaders From Mars. Seeing it at a young age helped me to relate to this compelling tale set in an adult world heading into the crisis of an alien invasion, mainly because it was told from a boy’s point of view, and a good portion of the key scenes are filmed from a low angle to enhance the dramatic and visual impact. It was easy to put myself in David’s helpless shoes, and imagining how I would feel, and what could I do, if the logic of the world shifted on its axis, and the people I knew and authority figures could no longer be trusted. After the movie was over, I spent a long time thinking about how I would deal with a sandpit that became a living, sinister place that fed on humans, swallowing them whole into the bowels of the earth. I wasn’t as fortunate as David, because I didn’t know an astronomer with military connection, and I doubted that I could have convinced a single, solitary soul of the impending peril of an alien invasion that utilized our own people as weapons of mass destruction.
Which begs the question: How would the 10-year-old version of you be able to safeguard the planet? Let us know in the comments.
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It was meant to be a rescue mission. One of our interstellar launches that NASA lost all contact with ten years ago finally reentered Earth’s orbit. Astonishingly, the ship still registered human life signs so an astronaut medical team crew was hastily assembled and a billionaire’s self-funded rocket commandeered to expedite the the rescue attempt.
For a mission done on the fly, everything surprisingly went to plan…until the rescue team discovered the zombified bodies of the interstellar crew connected to a bizarre life support system that kept their human hearts beating within their necrotic corpses.
The rescue mission commander immediately called for an evacuation but as the team prepared to leave, extraterrestrial lifeforms came out of stealth mode, closed in fast, and trapped them. The alien intruders forced their way into the humans’ brains, using a primitive mental pictogram code in order to establish a crude hive mind to learn everything they could about Earth’s defenses and their probability of survival in the war that was about to begin.
The Vast of Night, written by Andrew Patterson (under the pseudonym of James Montague) and Craig W. Sanger, directed by Andrew Patterson and starring Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz, isn’t a movie, not exactly. It’s a tv show inside a movie that runs parallel to real-life events starring the local townsfolk as actors playing themselves, though I doubt they realize it. Got it? Good. Moving on.
The television show being broadcast is Paradox Theater (an homage to The Twilight Zone with a dead-on vocal impression of Rod Serling) and the episode airing is titled, you guessed it, The Vast of Night which takes place in the small town of Cayuga, New Mexico sometime during the 1950s on the night of a high school basketball game. It’s a big event with nearly the whole town in attendance except for those who have to work and among these unlucky few are two teenagers, disc jockey Everett, the Mr. Fixit cock of the walk in his high school circle who carries himself with just enough swagger to be a likeable jerk; and his switchboard operator friend, Fay, a curious science nerd with a deep interest in technology who also wants to become a radio broadcaster.
At work, Fay listens to Everett’s radio show, which gets interrupted by a strange audio signal which is also coming through over the phone lines as she begins fielding calls from the town locals about something strange happening in the sky. Fay calls Everett at the station, lets him listen to the mysterious noise which he, in turn, broadcasts on the air and asks his listeners for information about the signal.
You’re going to hate me for this but I’m not interested in dishing out spoilers so that’s all I’m going to tell you about this film (you can basically get what I’ve mentioned from the trailer). I will say that if you’re looking for some CGI effects-laden alien invasion action extravaganza, this ain’t the film for you. The story is laid out like a breadcrumb trail that leads you to one answer after another in order to solve the big mystery of what’s going down in Cayuga and it’s in no rush to deliver those answers to you.
And before you wave this off to go and rewatch Independence Day for the thousandth time, let me assure you that if you’re a science fiction cinephile, this film is worth your time. The small town feels like a genuine small town, the townies come across as authentic, the atmosphere makes you feel like you’ve slipped on a patch of time and landed back in the 50s, and the acting is top-notch all around. Plus, there’s an innocence present that’s sadly missing from the movies released in the past few years, which is kind of refreshing, actually.
So, would I recommend The Vast of Night? You betcha! And, if the producers got it in their minds to do an X-Files-style tv series featuring Everett and Fay exploring all the mysterious, extraterrestrial and supernatural goings-on that occur in Cayuga during the 50s, I’d be first in line to watch it!
Til next now, “Bacon, bacon, nine-forty.” Watch the film, you’ll understand.
This is not a test. This is a message from the Emergency Broadcast System. If you’re able to hear this message, I suggest you grab yourself a big glass of water and strap yourself down because this is going to be one tough pill to swallow.
The President of the United States of America is dead, as are all the other officers in the line of succession through to Secretary of Homeland Security, which leaves me. Who am I? You will have to wait a while to find that out, I’m afraid. I will not reveal my identity until I have a better understanding of the threat aimed at those who seat themselves in the Oval Office, but I wish to offer the following statement:
There’s no point in being polite about this so from this point on I’m going to speak to you plainly, truthfully, from my heart, so you’ll pardon my French as I do so.
For those of you oblivious nescients with your heads shoved up your own or someone else’s fourth point of contact, which is apparently more than half the population, we have been royally screwed by the so-called friendly visitors from the distant star, Prolexecor.
I have been pouring through complaints and pleas for help from people literally being fucked out of house and home by these little grey assclowns. If you’re listening to this right now and saying to yourself, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, I have several friends who have adopted greys and they seem to be fitting in just fine”—I have a request to make: why don’t you blow out all the pilot lights, crank the knobs all the way up and stick your head in the oven so that I don’t have to hunt you down and do it myself.
I couldn’t give a rat’s ass, nor does the planet Earth give a rat’s ass about how much you love sucking off greys. You have five native racial classifications to suck and fuck on the planet and the greys are not, I fucking repeat,not among them. This message is about fostering relationships with humans, and that’s not even remotely possible if you’re going to throw sex at lifeforms that are not our genetic matchup.
Newsflash to the stupid asshats in our society: Greys don’t like fucking humans. Oh, wait, double newsflash: Greys don’t like fucking humans, they like fucking humans over. And they like doing it because we make it so ridiculously easy for them. Do you know why we haven’t been visited by any other alien races beside the Prolexecorians? Because they sent a message out to the rest of the known goddamned universe. Do you really need me to spell out what it said? It said that we Earthlings fucking suck as a species.
Did you get that? I’m talking to all the little dumbshits that openly brag about their xeno-coital exploits with creatures that cannot continue our line, in front of lonely, single humans who can. Are you people seriously mentally deficient? That’s not a rhetorical question, I actually want you to tweet the Oval Office to advise me if you’re mind-numbingly thick so I can make sure you’re on the passenger list for the next one-way shuttle off the fucking planet.
Think about it: if a family member announced to you that they wanted to get into an intimate relationship with the neighbor’s pet, would you be happy? Would you? No, you wouldn’t, so why the fuck would you let them do it with something that bears no resemblance to humans and produces no offspring? And brag about it?
First of all, you shouldn’t be shtupping the first visitors to touch down on our planet in since forever because it’s bad form and it gives not just you but the entire fucking planet a shitty reputation. Secondly, you shouldn’t be doing it bareback. I don’t give a fuck if your grey flashes some intergalactic medical card that states he/she/it is disease free. You don’t do it. You. Don’t. Do. It. And you especially do-fucking-not convince other humans to do it either. Disease-free for them may not be disease free for you.
And before you open your bassackward smegma eating piehole to try to justify your actions, saying something like, “I’ve been having sex with humans of all races for most of my life, doesn’t that count for something?” No, you obtuse fetal knuckle dragger, it fucking doesn’t. Do you wanna know why? It doesn’t count because you’ve turned your back on the human race and now you’re crawling with alien cooties. You’re a walking fucking human roach motel. Congratulations.
I’ve also come across stupid shitty websites devoted to technical virgins. You think it’s cool to lose your virginity to a grey and boast about still being a human virgin? It is not fucking cool. I’ve also seen Tumblr pages for humans that have sworn off humans. Humans. That. Have. Sworn. Off. Other. Humans. How simpleminded is that?
I don’t give a shit about fads and exotic tastes and getting your Kirk on, you were born a human so you leave the dance with the species who brought you. One of your own kind, stick to your own kind. And when I say fuck the greys, it doesn’t mean you actually get to go out and fuck the greys. Why? Is the concept of an alien invasion new to you? Are you really that blind? Or are you just so fucking clueless about the different ways a foreign invader can infiltrate our homeworld and take over? Well, it’s time someone told you that the grey you’re hot-monkey-loving, the selfsame one who couldn’t give two shits in a rucksack about you or your bland ass sexual prowess, that mother fucking non-terran cocksucker is only putting up with your horseshit to worm its way into your bank account and property. Every time you donate to their cause, every time you put them in your will or sign over your patch on land to one of them, we lose that much more of our planet. Our. Own. Fucking. Planet. And I swear to God I will personally groin punt the next person I discover doing something asinine like that, and I don’t give a fuck how young or old you are, I will fucking assault you.
Does this message make you feel like a shitbird? Good. If any of the grievances mentioned in this broadcast applies to you in any way, no matter how small, or even if you haven’t acted on your feelings yet but this shit is simmering in the back of your mind, this following message is for you:
Get the fuck off my planet.
I’m not kidding. Just leave. Seriously. If you’ve committed any act that possibly endangers the future survival and continuation of the human race and our birthright claim to this planet, be you rich, powerful, beautiful, healthy, or however genetically perfect… you need to find a new home. I would rather live on a world of loyal human misfits than share a planet with perfects who don’t care to preserve what we’ve built and fail to see just how important we are.
And when you rocket your treacherous asses off the planet, just know that I pity you because I don’t know how you’ve gotten this far in life, but I’m quite sure you won’t go any farther. Oh, and one more thing:
Go fuck yourself.
This concludes this message from the Emergency Broadcast System.
In the beginning of what most believed in their heart of hearts to be the End of Days, there was The Distant Signal. It came in the form of a definitive and verified multi-language message broadcast to all the countries of Earth simultaneously.
What should have been a moment of joyous acknowledgment that we were not alone in the universe, was tainted by a subliminal signal that triggered an automatic flight response in all the various and sundry life forms on the planet.
Dubbed The Great Terror by the media, it opened the door to speculation about the global impact alien contact might have on world governments, organized religions, stock markets, and most importantly human existence.
Then came news of the one person on the planet unaffected by the subliminal signal.
His business card was made of carbon-fiber reinforced thermoplastic. Laser etched in red on the back was his phone number, four digits, no area or country code, because it wasn’t needed. The number could be dialed from anywhere in the world, toll-free. The front of the card delivered the most accurate message any business card ever had. It told the bearer exactly who he was in two simple words:
Normally slang that referred to either the government, an authority in a position of power, or a drug dealer — which he had no issue with, as he had allegedly been all those things in his youth — it currently served as a term of respect and praise.
The Man had no official credit rating, never owned a bank account, and his fingers never knew the texture of cash. His currency was the Boon License, a service performed, payable by a service at his behest.
The Man never advertised his services, and thanks to a universal binary code, he wasn’t searchable on the internet. His legend was viral, spread word of mouth from those who benefited from his services. The downside of this Chinese whispers campaign were all the old wives’ tales that attached themselves to his accomplishments like gossip remoras:
He was incapable of telling the truth and he gained supernatural powers by winning a bet with the Devil in a liar’s competition.
He thrived on the broken hearts of virgins after he stole the purest form of love from them.
He was born without a soul.
He was a genetic engineering experiment using stem cell materials that hadn’t been able to be duplicated.
He was born with one hundred percent brain capacity and as a result, has all the information stored on every computer and the internet in his brain.
He averted World War Three by winning the jackpot in a poker game with the world’s superpowers.
For a person who bartered in boons, how could he resist collecting favors from the entire planet? But when The Man accepted the offer, he scoured governments, both domestic and foreign, for help, with absolutely no success.
Once The Man signed the contract, he was elected to make first contact, and the world leaders resigned from their posts and contingency plans were underway to build underground shelters. He could not find a government, nation, country or individual to stand by his side.
The final extraterrestrial message contained a set of coordinates for the rendezvous point. Although no one would stand by him, he was able to call in several favors to arrange transport to one of the remote volcanic islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, Tristan da Cunha.
The alien armada arrived like a meteor storm, ships of shifting geometrics burned through Earth’s mesosphere and parked themselves in the stratosphere around the entire planet so that they blotted out the sun.
Plunged into darkness, The Man stood his ground as a lone, illuminated craft, smaller than the other ships, descended to the rendezvous point and touched down on the soil light as a feather.
The ship altered its form and peeled itself away from its passenger and repurposed itself into a ramp. The alien glided forward. It existed on the outer fringes of humanoid description but The Man found its features and its form somehow alluring.
The alien handed him a card with strange markings and upon contact with his skin, the card pricked his thumb and took a DNA sample. The markings changed, cycling through alphabets until it hit his native earthbound English. When all the letters were in place, it simply read: