A probe is sent to Mars. While it is surveying the planet transmissions to Earth suddenly stopped. Dr. David Fielding (Kent Taylor) is in charge of the mission. Working with him is Dr. Web Spencer (William Mims). For a moment, after the transmissions end, a blankness comes over Fielding. Eventually he shakes it off. When he and Spencer leave the office a doppelganger of Dave is still sitting in his office chair.
Shortly after the failure of the probe Dave Fielding leaves Florida to be with his family who are still in California. Having sold their house Dave’s wife Claire (Marie Windsor) and their children Judi (Betty Beall) and Rocky (Gregg Shank) moved into the guest house of a mansion that belongs to Claire’s family. The big house remains empty while the estate is on the market. Tension between Claire and Dave is the result of Dave’s job making him be away from home so much. As soon as Dave settles in the family begins seeing doubles of each other on the estate. Dave and Claire are deeply concerned about the situation. Dave firmly believes what they are experiencing has something to do with his work for the government.
Dave calls Web to come out to California to discuss what’s going on. He explains what the family has been seeing. When Dave saw the double of Claire it was heading to the big house. When Claire saw the double of Dave it had just come from the big house. He decides that he may get some answers to his questions be searching the mansion.
While Web waits for a phone call at the guest house, Dave explores the big house and finds his double. He learns that, what looks like a man in front of him, is really an alien from Mars. The alien is an entity that is basically energy taking the form of a human. They came to Earth on an energy beam from the probe. The alien tells Dave that they are there to stop Earth from exploring Mars. They believe they are protecting their planet from an Earth invasion. To do that they must replace not only Dave but anyone who attempts to send any more missions to Mars with doppelgangers. In Dave’s case they also need to replace his family since they would know that Dave wasn’t really Dave. Unless Dave can escape the estate, he and his family will be destroyed.
“The Day Mars Invaded Earth” was released in 1962 and was directed by Maury Dexter. It is an American science fiction film. The movie was primarily filmed at the Greystone Mansion estate in Beverly Hills. A few years later the estate was purchased by the city and turned into a public park. The mansion has been used for other films and television shows since then.
The movie is a low budget “B” movie. It relies more on suspense than on any science fiction special effects. The only real effects are those in the beginning credits where the miniature rover style probe wanders over what is supposed to be Martian soil. The effects are bad but typical for “B” movies made in the sixties. Beyond that the movie plays more like a psychological thriller than science fiction.
The first time I ever saw the film I thought it was lame and boring. There are no aliens just people pretending to have no emotions. On watching it again it’s still more boring than not but I no longer hope for a creepy alien with big teeth. Although it’s not as bad as the first time I saw it, it’s not great either. It’s a little talky in places. I also found the acting a little stilted. When they’re aliens they’re supposed to be stilted but not when they’re humans. Others have labeled it an underrated thriller. The best I can do is to view it as an average Twilight Zone episode. To me the only part that is worth noting is the unusual and slightly disturbing ending.