Review by Scott A. Cupp
This is the 130th in my series of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films
So, away we go, all the way back to 1963 and a gathering of veteran actors for an odd film. FOX FM showed this the other day and it caught my eyes. Dr. Keith Fielding (Kent Taylor) is a NASA scientist working on the first probe to Mars. He has been working hard on the project and his family life has suffered for it. When the Mars probe doesn’t find any signs of life or activity, the probe experiences an energy surge and is destroyed. Fielding feels odd when this happens and decides to take some time out for his family in southern California.
His kids Rocky and Judi (Gregg Shank and Betty Beall) are happy to have their dad home but it is obvious that his wife Claire does not want him to return to NASA and that things are basically over. But something weird is going on at the home. There is a weird energy version of Fielding that confronts him. Martians, it seems, do exist but are composed of pure energy. They destroyed the probe and have plans to destroy the NASA program. The family is menaced as energy duplicates of each member show up. Judi’s boyfriend is killed trying to avoid a collision with “Judi.” A duplicate Rocky confronts his mother is a creepy moment. The use of Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills heightens some of the suspense. The mansion has been features in many films, TV episodes, and music videos and is very distinctive.
Fielding has a confrontation with his double who explains that the Martians plan to infiltrate certain government and scientific personnel. They plan to take over all of Fielding’s family since the duplicate could not possible fool the family as a whole.
NASA has noted Fielding’s weird behavior and has sent him co-worker/friend, Dr. Web Spencer (William Mims) to help convince him to return. Fielding explains to Web what the situation is and Web agrees to help them try to escape. The aliens may be energy but they have other plans for the family.
This is not a great film, but it is not bad either. It has some great paranoia and the duplicated members are creepy. I had never heard of it before encountering it on FOX-FM. I’m glad I saw it but was disappointed because the description of the film on the program guide contains a major plot spoiler.
If you have a chance, give it a try.
Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.