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The Show

Invasion of the Animal People

When cone-headed aliens crash their ship near the Arctic Circle, their pet Sasquatch wreaks havoc on the locals and an crack team of scientists gather to ponder what they think is a meteor. Crushing on Diane Wilson, the figure skating niece of his American colleague, hunky Swedish geologist Erik Engstrom runs into a little competition when she also catches Sasquatch's eye.

A collaboration between Swedish and American filmmakers, "Invasion of the Animal People" (1959) was released under a string of other titles: "Space Invasion of Lapland" ("Rymdinvasion i Lappland), "Horror in the Midnight Sun" and "Terror in the Midnight Sun". The first title is illogical: as far as viewers can tell, there's only one "animal person". Considering that sunlight through the night is an issue near the Arctic Circle (66° 33′ 44″ latitude) only during the summer, the last two titles don't make a lot of sense either.

And the other title? Throughout the film, references to Lapps and Lapland are made. Preferring the name they call themselves, the Sami (or Saami) people have roamed across territories now claimed by Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia. While the exact etymology of the term "Lapp" is unclear, reputedly many Samis consider it offensive—perhaps because in some languages, it refers to outsiders living in the wilderness and in others to scraps of cloth used for patches, both of which indicate a perspective on the Sami people that places them on the margin of some other culture. Still, the term is woven into Scandinavia's history, where several towns and regions bear its mark.

Fortunately, this film has a lot more going for it than four off-the-mark titles: snow sports, a bit of romance, some good old-fashion sexism, a magnificent 20-foot-tall creature, and a trio of creepy aliens.

The Science

Matt Pinnell and Dave Hoagland

Matt Pinnell and Dave HoaglandMatt Pinnell and Dave Hoagland of Revolution Manufacturing in Orem, Utah, discuss ski technology and the movie Invasion of the Animal People.

 

More Science to go with the Show

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