|Page 1 of 11:||          |
|Index||109 reviews in total|
I was seven years old when I was taken to see this movie by my sixty-year old Lithuanian grandmother (to whom it must have made no sense at all). The images in the movie - the big green guys, the melting rock that looked like an explosion in a bubble gum factory, the people falling into the sand pit, the dreaded implant approaching the pretty neck of Dr. Blake, the little silver octopus-like guy in the fishbowl - all replayed themselves in my mind over many nights. I saw it again recently on AMC and can see many of the things that are dated, but can also understand why the movie made such an impact at the time. The concept, especially, of one's parents being taken under the control of evil forces is particularly disturbing to a young child. The music and sound effects, too, are particularly eerie. The almost abstract quality of the set in the police station scene lends it a foreboding quality. I'm ambivalent on how to rate it. It very much shows its age (and they could have shortened the stock army footage of tanks rolling) but has much that gives it a weird sort of drawing power even today. A curiously compelling movie.
I saw this movie in it's 2nd or 3rd run, around 1957 I was about 10
years old (same age as David in the movie) and very naive concerning
agendas and hidden messages. The hook was the very beginning with a
spatial view of the stars, a vocal chorus that sounded 'heavenly' and
segued in beautiful fashion. I was a stargazer, thrilled with what was
starting to happen in the space race and interested in all things
scientific. When you're 10, you don't look for zippers on martian
suits, balloons that move when martians go past them, or things like
that. What you notice is that some of the people in the movie echo
individuals you know in real life. You begin to wonder if people who
seem changed in real life have something in the back of their necks.
Maybe you look for these markings after you leave the theater?
'Invaders' had a profound effect on me as a child, but then, so did "The Day The Earth Stood Still". I suspect that there wasn't a large budget to make this picture but am moved to say that it accomplished what it set out to do, both in sending a message and being real scary at the time. If you are a real 'Invaders' fan, try to find the 12" laser discs that came out in the late 70s. (2-12" laser disc set) It featured all the trailers and several different endings. I still watch it now and then and hope that I don't wake up in the same dream every day, like David did.
A child astronomer searches the skies with his father. Later the child
astronomer wakes to the sound of a flying saucer landing in a sand pit
across from his home. The child's father investigates, and returns
"transformed." Soon father and
mother both seem affected. Child, accompanied by his fetching teacher
visits his astronomer friend, whom talks unashamedly about "invaders from
Within this deceptively simple plotline is a surrealistic masterpiece. With stunning use of color, forced perspective, oversized sets, eerie dreamlike music and carefully mannered performances and plotting, director William Cameron Menzies (an Oscar-winning art director) displays the nightmarish incidents from a child's perspective. Even the typically 50s ending takes on a different perspective. Was it a dream? Was it a foreshadowing of the future? Or is it a recurring nightmare, in a mind gone hopelessly mad.
Only since this film have widespread reports of alien "abductions" and "alien implants" become a reality. Coincidence?
INVADERS FROM MARS is one of the great fantasy sci-fi films of all time.
After reading many of the comments regarding this movie, I am somewhat
amused to see how many have forgotten that there was life before CGI
"Invaders From Mars" is still potent in the most valuable way, and that's imagination. The storyline, which owes a great deal to "The Wizard of Oz" in it's final moments, has deep psychological effects which still resonate today. If it wasn't so effective, people wouldn't still be discussing it after nearly fifty years.
CGI effects have dumbed down movies to nothing more than computer-effects orgies, relying on a "gee-whiz" factor that ultimately comes up empty in more than a few cases (the big-budget "Godzilla" leaps quickly to mind here). IFM was originally set to be a 3-D movie, which was ultimately scrapped for budgetary concerns. William Cameron Menzies, the director, used the original sets which had been designed to force perspective. The resulting film, which throws the objectivity to a child's point of view has fascinated viewers for years. Menzies did the best with what he could afford, and the visual results are still gripping even today. Yes, the film has it's flaws, but we need to consider the making of IFM in its historical context. Menzies was an Oscar-winning art director (for "Gone With the Wind", no less). Also consider his work on "Thief of Bagdad" with Sabu, one of the most beautiful color films ever made. IFM shows the same visual excitement (referred to by some viewers as "garish"), but rising above it's badly slashed budget to gain a foothold in popular memory.
It's sad to think that the work of a real artist will be dismissed simply because he worked in an era where technology hadn't swallowed vision.
Don't be fooled by anyone who dismisses Invaders from Mars as a piece of
There may be a visible zipper or two on the monster suits and their weapons will look a little Dr. Seussy compared to a Trekkie phaser, but this movie has a lot to offer, including a completely unique child-driven story line. I can't think of another movie that so successfully captures the terror at the heart of every child's fear that their parents may not be who they say they are; that no one believes them because they're children (how many abused children have been fobbed off by well-meaning adults who should have listened?), or that they're entitled a a perfect, loving father and mother (the nurse and the astronomer), not the ones they've been born to.
Compared to so many of today's Sci-Fi disasters that are long on money and short on everything else, Invaders from Mars relies on atmosphere and expressionist angles, nightmarish sets that are just a little too big, too stark, too skewed (the Police Station is a perfect example).
And instead of Mars Attacks' little green gremlins that take such glee in splattering and fricassing everything in site; the Martians in IoM are insidious; relying on one human to lure another into a sinister sand pit (a metaphor for the threat of communism or the tactics of the House UnAmerican Activities hearings?).
How many future 'alien abductees,' sci-fi plotters and X-files authors have used the conventions here? Tiny implants inserted at the back of the neck. Friends turned into traitorous zombies. Humans kidnapped and set out on slab tables for experimentation? Alien tunnels spread like netting beneath the placid surface of the world's oblivious Earthlings. A hero with the truth that no one will listen to? And how many film makers, even now, would have the skill and the nerve to save the boy, start the ordeal all over again, and make it work? Because, as we all know, the monsters in the closet come back as soon as the light goes out again.
NOTE: the remake is a total waste of time that Tobe Hooper should be mortally ashamed of.
An eerie horror/sci-fi that works even better today: great set design (by the director William Cameron Menzies), script, haunting music, and unforgettable images: the hill-top "sinking sand" set, weird marks on victims' necks, the catacombed alien lair, the tall, green, bug-eyed Martians, the gold-like, tentacled, expressive "head"-intelligence in the globe, the LONG hypodermic needle, much more. Costumes work well too, note the change of the mother (Hillary Brooke) from loose-haired blonde sweetness, to a possessed rigid-hairstyled villainess in black. The doctor-heroine (Helena Carter) is a picture-book beauty of auburn-coiffured refinement and soft-spoken sympathy, clad in a cream-colored dress, with a bright red handkerchief to set it off and two-toned stilettos. Jimmy Hunt is all-American red-headed freckleness, unusual in that the story is told from his point-of-view, a fine performance. Good support from Morris Ankrum, Arthur Franz, and Leif Erickson. The dreamlike nature of the picture is only enhanced by the repeating footage, lots of stock military scenes, the wobbly aliens, etc. Basic plot was re-used for "It Came From Outer Space" (1953), "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956), "It Conquered the World" (1956), many more. Skip the abysmal 1986 remake.
Lots of positive and negative feedback for this film, and I can understand why. Whether we want to admit it or not, nostalgia does have an impact on how we view things. As someone between the two generations(early 30's at this time), I can understand how I have put special importance on things I watched as a child. I know that some of these films were not too good but they mean't a lot to me. I also know that I was the kind of person that watched older films and appreciated them if they were good, and watched newer films and appreciated them if they were good. The biggest problem with many younger viewers today is that they do not look at a film in a context of when it was made, nor do they look at the most important aspect of the film which is what message is the film trying to relate....NOT how does it look in relating its message. We as a society are too caught up with presentation and other superficial things that sometimes we ignore what the core of something is. Anyway...enough philosophizing. This film is a good film period. Yep, it is cheaply made. Yep, it is filled with lots of stock footage, particularly the battle scenes which take place at night but footage takes place during day. Yep, it has mediocre acting. I won't argue those point because they are accurate. But those are only a part of the film...and for this film at least a very small part. This film has style and substance. Director William Cameron Menzies WAS a great director. He directed the science fiction classic Things To Come in the 30's which was a visionary masterpiece. He made this film fun to watch as he incorporated German expressionistic sets into his small-town simple story of a boy that knows aliens have landed on Earth in his back yard. The young boy played by Jimmy Hunt does a fine job in his role. The messages the film relates, however, are for me at least the core of the film....watch out for the ordinary....listen to children.....conformity is dangerous. This film is saying so much...give it a chance without worrying about window-dressing! And a final note...Long Live Morris Ankrum in film...I like him in this movie!
Did you know this movie was almost lost forever rotting away in a film
at a tv studio in California I believe.There was just one copy left and it
was deteriating badly! Thanks to a man called Wade Williams (one of the
producers in 86 awful remake) who ran a movie theater in Kansas City went
all over the country in the seveties looking for this film. He like myself
grew up watching this movie in the early sixties when it just literally
disapeared off the face of the earth.This info is based on a Star Log
magazine story in 1977 and a personal phone call to Wade Williams that
I did finally get to see the movie in early 1981 when it was shown on tv 38 Boston and was blown away to see it again.I have the movie on vhs and plan to get on dvd soon.I grew up the late fifties and early sixties and this is as well as 3 Stooges Have Rocket Will Travel and Target Earth are part of my all time favorites.I guess you had to haved lived thru that era to really appreciate these movies.
It could never be legitimately argued as one of the masterworks of Cinema.
And, while its director was at the very least always regarded as
and more usually engaged as a production designer, he would never even be
considered by critics when ranking the greats.
But at a time when computerised sleight-of-hand can achieve the impossible in depiction of alien worlds, few modern science-fiction films can match the portrayal of a young boy's fear and wonderment of the unknown as depicted in the original version of Invaders from Mars.
Nostalgia probably has a lot to do with my affection for this film. Although the original release date of the film was before my time, even some years later the early 1960's Irish schoolboys were still endlessly fascinated with the possibility of flying saucers. And while we wanted to believe that there really was something out there, the Red Planet was seen as this great evil place which we had to be constantly wary of.
So I really do identify with Jimmy Hunt and his sense of wonder. But the film is more than just a festival for nostalgia-freaks.
The wonderful design and look of the film, those marvellous garish colours; the feeling of alienation (sorry) by Jimmy when it seems that not only can he not trust the local police but even his parents seem to be under the control of the aliens. And that wonderful ending when it seems that the nightmare will never end.
Of course you can pick faults: the master alien is rather ridiculous looking. And the scenes of the aliens running through the tunnels would never strike dread in you. But I'm sure the budget, even by the standards of the time was not much above Poverty Row. But these are minor quibbles. Its the overall impact that matters most. And the accurate portrayal of the concerns of the time.
I know there are many films of the 1950's which Americans maintain are allegories of the McCarthy witch-hunts and the Cold War. I don't know about that. But I do know that however much I may admire the computerised sci-fi films of the 80's and 90's, this film will always have a special place in my collection.
Invaders From Mars is, arguably, a cult classic. William Cameron Menzies, of "Gone With The Wind" and "The Thief of Baghdad" and "Things to Come" fame puts his artistic expertise to work in creating a world of impending doom, seen through the eyes of an 11 year old boy.
It is because of this point-of-view that lends a nightmarish quality to a struggle this boy encounters when he tries to convince the authorities that a spaceship landed in a sandpit behind his house.
The sense of "something's not right" with Mom and Dad starts as the boy's parents are sucked below the sandpit into the evil arms of the Martians, made into zombie-spies, and returned to the surface. The boy's fear mounts when local police and even high-ranking military fall prey to the Martians' mind control.
Through the assistance of a well trusted astrophysicist and a school psychologist the boy convinces the local Army base to make a beach head in the boy's back yard... and the battle to return the boy's parents and the villagers to normalcy begins. Eventually, the boy and the psychologist confront the Martian intelligence (midget Luce Potter as a convincing body-less head with tentacle-like arms in a glass sphere). In a poor "race against time" sequence in which the little boy and psychologist are rescued from the spaceship before it blows up, the film reaches its climax to the cacophonous din of artillery explosions, and Raoul Kraushaar's eerie, disharmonious a capella choir.
Many criticize the poor production values, the over use of stock footage, the idiotic costumes, and the fact that the film had TWO endings (one popularized in Great Britain, one here in U.S.A.).
Yes, I agree that production and set values were cheap (green condoms to represent molten rock "bubbles" in the tunnels and obvious zippers in the velour-like jump suits of the Martian slaves, to name a few.)
Nevertheless, Menzies applies forced perspective to his sets, and the skillful use of background mattes to lend an unearthly tone to the scene Remember folks, this is 1953... a time when Communism infiltration and subordination of Mr. and Mrs. Joe America was the chief "fear of the day". There are few other films of that period that deftly portrayed this paranoia so aptly as "Invaders From Mars"
If one overlooks the "rough" edges of its obviously low budget, one can still appreciate the helplessness, fear and mistrust the little boy develops as his parents and others are turned into "tools of the Martians". Is it truly a nightmare, or did it actually happen? The viewer is left to make that choice.
|Page 1 of 11:||          |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||External reviews||Parents Guide|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|