Movie Review: No Survivors, Please (1964)
No Survivors, Please (1964)
Director: Hans Albin, Peter Berneis
Cast: Maria Perschy, Robert Cunningham, Uwe Friedrichsen
Synopsis: Aliens attempt to take over the world by assuming control of the dying bodies of world leaders.
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Rather than landing in spaceships with laser guns firing, the aliens in this obscure and slightly puzzling SF picture from West Germany attempt to coax we humans into destroying each other so that they can move in and tidy up once the dust has settled. They do this by entering the bodies of high-ranking targets at the moment of death. Once enough important bodies are occupied, the aliens then plan to provoke a nuclear war which will ensure man’s destruction. The first unfortunate victim is US ambassador John Farnsworth (Robert Cunningham – War and Peace) who is killed when the pilot of his plane deliberately crashes it somewhere in Mexico. Farnsworth’s apparent survival is hailed as something of a miracle, as is the survival of an ever-growing list of world leaders and decision-makers over a short period of time. Perhaps surprisingly, only journalist Howard Moore (Uwe Friedrichsen) seems to find this extraordinary sequence of dodging the reaper a little strange, but his persistent attempts to interview some of the survivors serves only to bring him to the attention of the aliens, who target him for extermination followed by regeneration.
There’s a cool ‘60s vibe about No Survivors, Please – the action travels the globe, and the characters look like models that have just stepped down from a catwalk in Milan. But there’s little narrative order to it and too many scenes feel as if they’ve been randomly thrown at the screen with no real thought given to narrative flow or coherence. It’s refreshing to find a tale of alien invasion from this era that doesn’t rely on scaly skin or pulsing foreheads for its impact, and which is prepared to follow a more cerebral path, but it simply refuses to hang together.
Quite why the aliens feel it’s necessary to assassinate their targets with such spectacular, attention-grabbing methods is just one of a number of puzzling aspects of No Survivors, Please. Surely, it would make more sense to kill them quietly with no witnesses than to have their miraculous ‘escape’ from certain death making headlines all over the world. Another problem lies with the character of Moore, who, quite frankly, is less likeable than those aliens who eventually find their mission jeopardised by their deceased hosts’ residual memories of this strange human emotion called ‘love.’ He’s meant to be this happy-go-lucky lover of women, but comes across as a tactless womaniser whose moves on the opposite sex would probably earn him a slap around the face if he were to try them today. Of course, as this is the 1960s we’re talking about, the svelte women on whom he makes his moves simply lap it up. Even the aliens seem to like him…
No Survivors, Please is a strange movie which is worth seeking out simply because it’s one of a kind. The direction by Hans Albin and Peter Berneis is accomplished enough – even if the editing and musical score are all over the place – and the whole thing is steeped in the kind of ‘60s cool for which Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. strived.
(Reviewed 2nd March 2017)