Director: Douglas Heyes
Writer: Richard Matheson
Cast: Agnes Moorehead
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith
Air Date: 1/27/1961
Production Code: 173-3646
While living in an isolated farmhouse, a mute, elderly woman (Agnes Moorehead) discovers an alien spacecraft on her roof. Two small robots later emerge from the ship, presenting a formidable challenge to the woman.
Similar in many ways to a 1950s science fiction classic (the flying saucer from Forbidden Planet even makes an appearance), “The Invaders” is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest installments of The Twilight Zone. Exceptionally worth praising are the inarticulate grunts, gestures, and mannerisms of Agnes Moorehead, the acting of whom conceals an important plot twist prior to the final scene.
Though somewhat dated by today’s standards, the miniature robots generate a suspenseful, compelling atmosphere by two essential factors. First, the protagonist reacts to her home invaders by hissing, groaning, and crying in a manner that would suggest mental impairment, thereby allowing viewers to share in the horror felt by a slow, defenseless old woman. Second, a haunting score by Jerry Goldsmith offers a disturbing complement to Moorehead’s performance, which, as implied above, serves as a physical embodiment of all the fear, paranoia, and irrationality that humans experience when confronting forces unknown.
Despite lacking the social commentary of a Rod Serling narrative, “The Invaders” should be commended for evoking terror from a simplistic and unremarkable concept. Especially phenomenal is Richard Matheson’s ability to skew audience perception—a technique that, in this particular case, works to critique a flawed human tendency, i.e. to remain overconfident in even the most “alien” of circumstances (specifically, the invaders fail to immediately retreat when pitted against a hostile “giant,” thus proving their own arrogance and foolishness in dealing with a superior opponent).
By employing science fiction as a vehicle through which to explore the human condition, “The Invaders” earns its reputation as the quintessential episode of The Twilight Zone. While stronger parallels between the farmhouse situation and Cold War policies would have been excellent, Matheson’s narrative does, at least on a surface level, speak on the dangers of isolationism as an internalized philosophy.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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