THE DAY MARS INVADED EARTH (1962). Director: Maury Dexter. NOTE: One important plot point is revealed in this review.
Ever since I was a kid I'd been hoping to catch a glimpse of this little-seen [it's not even in Bill Warren's Keep Watching the Skies] sci fi movie from the early sixties. Be careful what you wish for ... Apparently somebody had this big empty estate with large rooms and beautiful gardens and long pathways that was just perfect for filming. Unfortunately, instead of making a haunted house film or thriller which would have been more appropriate, they instead made a tacky science fiction film with a minimum of FX work. Kent Taylor is a scientist who has sent a probe to Mars. Back with his family for a long overdue visit, Taylor discovers that Martians have landed on Earth as energy forms and have duplicated the bodies of himself and his family. There's a lot of aimless wide-screen wandering around through this pretty estate as Taylor, his wife (Marie Windsor) and their two children see their doppelgängers in the distance and either chase, or are chased by, them. The very downbeat ending, which packs a small wallop – we see the ashes of the bodies of Taylor and his family being washed away after their duplicates replace them – is the only thing of interest about the movie. Richard La Salle fashioned a full-fledged romantic score of a minor variety for the picture with some suitably eerie passages when required. Harry Spalding's script never really catches fire despite some attempts at characterization. The actors do what they can with insufficiently developed material.
Verdict: Not worth the time to track it down. **.