For its U.S. theatrical release in 1962, Space Invasion of Lapland was shortened by distributor Jerry Warren to 55 minutes from its original 73 minutes. New footage was shot with an on-screen narrator (John Carradine) that opens and closes the film, bookending its revised storyline. New footage was also shot with star Barbara Wilson about an earlier UFO incident that involved her character "Diane Wilson". After other original plot details were reedited or cut entirely, this new version was distributed in America under the title Invasion of the Animal People on a double bill with Warren's Terror of the Bloodhunters.
While asleep, a young woman, Diane Wilson (Barbara Wilson), experiences an extraterrestrial visit, awakening to a horrible, ear-splitting sound that only she can hear. Overcome by confusion, panic, and pain, she runs outside in her nightgown and sees a weird light in the sky. By the time paramedics take her to the hospital, she is catatonic and no longer able to explain what she has experienced. Doctors cannot explain her mysterious seizure. Local newspaper headlines wonder if what happened to her has something to do with a reported UFO sighting in the same area the night of her experience. Before it can be determined, she quickly recovers completely from her coma. She leaves the hospital and flies to Switzerland.
While traveling in Switzerland, Diane Wilson meets up with her uncle, famous geologist Dr. Vance Wilson (Robert Burton), who has come there to help investigate the recent landing of what appears to be a large meteorite. Diane is courted by her uncle's associate, Dr. Erik Engstrom (Sten Gester), though she aggressively plays hard-to-get at first. A romance develops, and eventually their journey is interrupted by the discovery of a large herd of mutilated reindeer in Lapland. Both scientists immediately fly to the site of the meteorite crash, far north in the Arctic mountains of Lapland. Much to the irritation of both scientists, Diane stows away aboard their airplane. When they arrive, it is determined that the meteorite is actually a round alien spaceship, and she suddenly realizes just how dangerous a decision she has made.
An enormously tall, hairy biped creature, with powerful jaws, tusks, and large round feet, under the control of three humanoid aliens in the spaceship, comes out of nowhere and begins menacing the scientists and the native Lapland villagers. The tall beast destroys the scientists' aircraft, killing the soldier guarding it, and begins tearing apart Laplander houses with its bare hands. As Dr. Engstrom and Diane are trying to ski away to safety, the hairy monster attacks again and is able to capture Diane. She screams and faints.
Meanwhile, a search party has been formed, now carrying fire torches as night begins to fall. They hear Diane's screams and go toward the sound. Dr. Engstrom arrives and watches as the hairy monster carries her off. He hurries toward the torch-carrying Laplanders and tries to alert Dr. Wilson, who is with them, that the creature now has Diane. Carrying her to the snow-buried alien spaceship, the extraterrestrial monster suddenly begins displaying tenderness toward his captive, a result of mind control exerted over the creature by the humanoid aliens. She runs into an adjoining ice cave and screams and faints again when the aliens come near. The aliens leave the cave and see the mass of lighted torches coming their way. The hairy monster picks up Diane and heads away from the buried spaceship.
The Laplanders give chase and are finally able to confront the huge creature, who is now standing with its back to the edge of a deep snow cliff. Angry villagers begin throwing their fire torches, and the tall monster carefully places Diane on the ground, where she is able to roll several few feet away. More torches are thrown and the hairy creature catches on fire. It falls backward over the cliff to a fiery death, starting an avalanche as it tumbles down into a steep chasm. The aliens, seeing this on their viewscreen, reverse course, launching their spaceship back the way they came.
The Swedish film's original end-title ballad, "Midnight Sun Lament", is based on an old Swedish melody (music and Swedish lyrics by Gustaf Unger, English lyrics by Frederick Herbert).
"Son of Cheese Magnet", Film Review by John J. Miller, cheese-magnet.com
"The movie has a complicated history. Filmed in 1959 in Sweden (it is possibly the second greatest '50's Scandinavian science fiction film ever made, even though I only know of two of them, and Reptilicus is only a 1950’s movie in the broadest thematic sense) as Space Invasion of Lapland, it actually never had a U.S. release until it appeared on a 2001 DVD. A rather bowdlerized version, (thanks to anti-genius Jerry Warren) premiered in 1962 in the U.S. as Invasion of the Animal People. Even this version has a complicated history, as the theatrical release has a running time of 55 minutes (!), the TV syndication version is 73 minutes, and the DVD version 81 minutes. Although I've only seen the latter, I imagine that exactly none of those minutes are any good".
"Bill Warren calls [distributor] Jerry Warren "one of the most uncaring movie 'producers' in history" and further states that the original version was "far, far superior to Animal People, [which is] a clotted, incoherent mess". With which I agree. Warren (Jerry, that is) cuts large swathes of the film, inserts an utterly incoherent framing device that confuses Sweden with Switzerland, rearranges scenes so they no longer flow understandably, adds a few static, expository scenes where people stand around and gab about what's going on in Sweden, while looking at a map of Greenland, and tops it all off by hiring John Carradine to intone an incomprehensible opening prologue that has nothing to do with the rest of the film, then ends it with an epilogue that's even more stupefying".
"Not that the original film was great, but it has its moments. There's skiing. A lot of skiing. There's also some ice skating on a tiny little pond by the very attractive female lead (Barbara Wilson, playing the imaginatively named Diane Wilson) who's there mainly to provide a romantic interest for young hunk scientist Erik Engstrom (Swedish actor Stan Gester) and also an eyeful for the audience in a shower scene that, unique to 1950s science fiction films, is very NSFW (this is a Swedish movie, after all; it was cut from Warren's release version). Young Erik is assisting Diane's uncle in investigating a strange meteor that has crashed in a remote corner of northern Sweden, conveniently near the tiny little town where Diane was entertaining the local urchins with her fabulous ice skating".
"Well, of course, the meteor isn’t a meteor but a rocket ship, which contains not only aliens who look suspiciously like Death from some other Swedish film, (what was it?, oh yes, The Seventh Seal), but also, apparently, I guess, because where else would it come from?, this big, shambling monster, who (after a lot more skiing) grabs Diane and runs off with her. This pisses-off the local Laplanders (who wear really cute hats) who come after it with torches. Literally. The ending, like much of the film, is a little incoherent. And kind of cheaply done. But I’ve seen worse. A lot worse".
"Oh yes, there's also a somewhat sappy theme song called "Love in the Midnight Sun", or something like that, sung apparently by a very famous Swedish singer of the time, which Diane and Erik dance to when they're not skiing. So there's that, too".
"I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the DVD’s extras, which include a multitude of very bizarre items, including a (unintentional) mockumentary on the degrading lives led by Stockholm teens, an episode of a Curt Siodmak-helmed Swedish TV show hosted by Lon Chaney, Jr. who plays a deranged criminal who introduces scenarios depicting even worse crimes than those he purportedly committed (high concept, indeed), another documentary (mock or not, I’m not sure) concerning Laplanders and the method they use to castrate male reindeer, which is carried out by the women of the tribe in the most unsanitary way imaginable, and, finally, half a dozen trailers for Swedish movies of the time period which themselves are totally NSFW, let alone the movies. It’s a veritable smorgasbord".
A Special Edition DVD of the original 1959 Swedish theatrical release, under the new title Terror in the Midnight Sun, was released by Something Weird Video on July 10, 2001; it still remains in print. The DVD also includes the heavily reedited 1962 U.S. theatrical release, Invasion of the Animal People, and a selection of short Swedish films and Swedish film trailers from the same period, rounding out the package.