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This is not a movie to be viewed from a serious perspective. But even sci-fi aficionados seem to have been losing their sense of fun over the years, which may be why this remake has been panned so badly. The whole movie is viewed from a young boy's dark imagination, right down to the ridiculous Mr. Potato head aliens. Even the camera angles are taken from child's height. And within the bizarre dream world of adolescent fears and disempowerment springs forth a really fun movie. Within this context, the remake of Invaders from mars remains true to the 1950's genre with some tongue in cheek. Relax, grab some popcorn, and warp back to the 50's, when your imagination didn't have to be fed with a spoon.
I actually LOVE this movie! I think it's one of the best remakes I've ever seen. When I recently found it on DVD, I purchased it on the spot. To me, this movie is just plain fun. I love the way the boy has to tell the school nurse (The unique Karen Black) about the things he's seen, and she doesn't quite know what to make of this seemingly clearheaded kid. Then, when she sees a bit of evidence for herself, she needs to just take a leap of faith and sneak the kid out of the school. I find it so intriguing, because I always try to imagine what a person would really do in a situation like this. Imagine you're a school nurse, and a kid comes in telling you a spaceship landed behind his house, and now something's wrong with his parents, his teacher, his friend and her father. Of course, you would probably not take it too seriously. But, then, if you actually saw something that seemed to corroborate his story, how would you handle it? What would you do? Even the nurse questions whether she is doing the right thing, The bottom line is she just had to follow her instincts, and something was telling her that things were not right. Imagine really being in that predicament. And imagine if you chose NOT to believe the kid and chalk it up to his imagination. Of course this story wouldn't really happen, but what if it did? That's the point of movies - to make you imagine these wild, unrealistic situations as actually occurring. We are meant to suspend our disbelief and put ourselves into the characters of the story. In my opinion, this film unfolded exactly as it really could have in real life. The nurse taking that chance, believing the kid, meeting him after school, investigating the site of the landing - all the elements that eventually lead up to her discovering the truth for sure. The chemistry between Karen Black and her real-life son, Hunter Carson, is great. They were the perfect team. Laraine Newman and Timothy Bottoms are alternately funny and amusing, then creepy and frightening. And Louise Fletcher as the teacher is a riot! She's just classic. When she says to Karen Black, "You've got a lot of nerve, sister!," I lose it every time. I don't know how someone could not enjoy this movie. I am not a big sci-fi fan, but I put this top on my list of all-time great entertainmnet. No, It isn't Oscar worthy, but I don't need every film I see to be ABOUT SOMETHING. Maybe I just want to sit back late at night with some popcorn and put myself in another place and time. This one does it for me every time I watch it. It's almost like it gets better with each viewing. Don't listen to naysayers. Watch this Midnite Classic at midnght. I don't think you should be disappointed, as long as you aren't looking for it to make a statement about life.
Invaders from Mars (1986) was a remake of the 1950's science fiction
classic. Tobe Hooper slightly reinvents the original and updates the
storyline. The story revolves around a strange alien craft that lands
in a field. A young boy spots the craft but no ones listens to him or
takes him seriously. Soon everyone around him begins to act very cold
and strange. What can be the cause of this? Maybe the strange spaceship
that landed in the abandoned field is causing this? Well it was the
Tobe Hooper made a very surreal and cool film. The special effects are excellent and the direction is on par. The acting is somewhat uneven. But the dialog and photography makes up for it. I enjoyed this movie when I was in junior high school and I still enjoy it to this very day. Another great film from Tobe Hooper.
Just don't take it too seriously. The movie is part homage and part remake of the original film and others like it that were made during the fifties.
Karen Black co-stars as the school nurse who believes the kid.
Tobe Hooper took an interesting approach in his "Invaders from Mars"
remake, with everything told from young David Gardner's (Hunter Carson)
point of view. There's an air of "Poltergeist" here, what with the
portrayal of a world overrun by commercialism suddenly getting upset.
As David's authoritarian teacher, Louise Fletcher seems to be
channeling Nurse Ratched (I mean that positively). And Karen Black, as
the only person who believes David, gets what is probably her neatest
role since "The Day of the Locust".
So, this movie's nothing special, but really cool. It sort of makes sense to cast Laraine Newman in this movie, given that she played Connie Conehead on "Saturday Night Live", but who would have ever imagined Timothy Bottoms starring here, as he earlier starred in "The Last Picture Show" and "The Paper Chase"? The only other cast members whom I recognized were James Karen (the developer from "Poltergeist") and Bud Cort (yes, the guy from "Harold and Maude").
Oh, and there's a scene that gives new meaning to the expression "a frog in one's throat"!
Title: Invaders from Mars (1986)
Director: Tobe Hooper (the man!)
Cast: Karen Black, Hunter Carson, James Karen
Review: Tobe Hoopers resume includes many great films (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Lifeforce, Poltergeist)...and many so-so ones (Spontanious Combustion, The Mangler). Invaders from Mars the re-make of the original alien invasion flick from the 1950's is one of his good ones. Not great, just good.
Early on in the film an alien spaceship crashes in David Gardners back yard, slowly but surely everyone in town starts acting weird...soon David must be the one responsible for stopping the aliens from conquering his home town...and maybe the world! This movie is a remake of the 1950 original, and just by the simplicity of the story you can tell that. It has that simple, light hearted, almost innocent feel that the movies had back in those days. But Hooper adds his only brand of weirdness and surrealism to the film that makes it feel like its some sort of nightmare you might have had while falling asleep watching midnight alien invasion films on your TV. Its the type of movie in which people start acting not quite themselves and you get that " something is wrong here" vibe going on, not unlike Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
The aliens look great thanks to Stan Winstons always excellent work. But I must admit they do seem kind of harmless. They don't seem like they could be a threat. I mean yeah they got huge gaping mouths with rows upon rows of teeth...but they feel dumb and stupid. For example they have these big ass laser guns attached to their noggins...but they get overtaken by the us army in the blink of an eye? Still, they look cool. Specially their leader who looks like a huge giant brain that comes out of a slimy worm-whole type of thing. If you ask me he also looks pretty harmless....but who cares! They are supposed to be evil! And they are trying to take over earth! Kill them! The sets are awesome, the interior of the the ship is great looking, it kind of has an organic look and feel to it. But it always beats the hell out of me why aliens from mars would have disco lights inside of their ship. You kind of get the feeling that at any moment an alien DJ is going to pop up and spin a couple of cool tunes on his two turn tables and a microphone. Anyhows, the over all effect looked cool so I ain't complaining.
Obviously production values ain't the real problem with this flick. Its sets and creatures are awesome looking.
The acting is what hurts this film a bit. Karen Black and the Kid just didn't do it for me in certain scenes. The kid sucked as an actor which explains why we probably haven't seen much of him in any other movie. His dialog was to robotic. Like he just read it and blurted it out without any actual thought or preparation as to what he was supposed to be going through in the scene. Sorry dude, but facts are facts. The only actors worth mentioning are the evil teacher and James Karen as General Wilson kicking alien ass all over the place.
Invaders from Mars is the type of film you want to show your little kid brother or cousin or son if you want to start him into horror. It goes in my collection right along side other great kid friendly horror films as The Monster Squad and The Gate. Give it a shot.
Rating: 31/2 out of 5
The original 1953 INVADERS FROM MARS is a cult classic, appreciated for
both its influence on later similar films and the fact that it reads as
hilariously corny by today standards. But this 1986 remake--in spite of
a big budget, several very talented actors, and a deliberately campy
script--is unlikely to inspire the same sort of loyalty, and it was
universally condemned by critics and audiences alike when first
That said, the film really isn't as bad as you may have heard. The plot follows the original version quite closely: the imaginative young son (Hunter Carson) of two loving parents (Timothy Bottom and Laraine Newman) catches sight of a UFO as it lands beyond the hill behind his house--and when his father goes out to investigate he returns... well... different. When his mother and his evil school teacher (Louise Fletcher) follow suit, he turns to the school nurse (Karen Black), and together the two alert the local military to the strange goings-on.
The cast is really quite good. Although the script gives her little to do beyond run around screaming, Karen Black has a unique screen presence--and it is as evident here as it is in her more celebrated films. Her real life son, Hunter Carson, does the honors as the child lead, and acquits himself very well. But the most memorable performances are from Laraine Newman, Timothy Bottom, and Louise Fletcher, who are transformed by the UFO and sent abroad to do the aliens' evil will. Fletcher is particularly enjoyable, wringing the most from her role as every child's nightmare school teacher. The special effects have dated and seem remarkably derivative, a mix of STAR WARS and ALIEN, but they too are entertaining in their own way, and although it isn't always successful the script has enough campy humor (much of it in reference to the original) to give you an occasional hoot.
As pure fluff, the 1986 INVADERS FROM MARS works very well, and kids ten and up are likely to find it extremely entertaining. Still, I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way for this particular movie. It is mindlessly entertaining, but I don't think it is a film to which many viewers will care to return.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
I'm not a fan of remakes, not at all. I don't see why films that were
good in the first place need to be 'updated'. Perhaps a bad film with a
nice idea would be worthy but most remakes, especially these days are
just cashing in on the success of the original and usually doing a bad
job to boot.
Invaders From Mars is one of the most famous of the Classic 50's sci-fi films along with Forbidden Planet and War Of The Worlds. It's certainly the most disturbing of the era with paranoia and fear seen from a child's perspective along with some memorable imagery!
The big surprise about this remake is that it's actually good. Really good in fact! Of course it's not perfect but it set out to do a task and in my eyes succeeded!
I think one of the best things about the film is how it looks. The locations and sets are fantastic, the set of the alien space ship interior and tunnels are superb as are the locations such as the sand pit. This is all the more baffling when you consider that it's made by Canon, a company famous for uber cheap budgets and cutting corners but it certainly doesn't have that feel here.
Being made in the 80's the film has that certain warmth to its feel that seemed to be present in films of that era.
There is a remarkably strong Spielberg vibe to the whole film mixed in with a good does of John Carpenter from around the same era. Tobe Hooper does a great job with plenty of nice sweeping wide angles crossed with claustrophobic horror type shots and situations and some nice recreation of the iconic scenes of the 50's original such as the fence going over the hill. There are also plenty of snippets of trivia from the original film hidden here and there throughout the film which is a great tribute and obviously shows the film was made with love.
Of course it's not perfect, the acting is hammy in parts which sort of ups the cheese value a little but on the whole it's pretty average and doesn't stray much into 'cringe' territory.
A special mention and combined criticism must go to the Martian creatures themselves. Stan Winston's workshop created these beasts and although superbly made and animated they seems to not know whether to be scary or goofy, looking formidable with their huge teeth and grunts one might be scared stiff if they didn't look like a giant testicle from the side on.
These are minor flaws though in a film that has so obviously been made with a passion for the subject.
I love both versions of this film and I honestly think that more people should give it the credit that it is due!
Hooper and his writers seem to want to both parody the 1950s classic
and, at the same time, to be a straight remake of it. Trouble is that this
simply isn't possible. It looks great throughout, with superb, shadowy
photography and generally good production design (though the Martian drones
look more silly than anything else). Some of the actors, particularly Karen
Black and Louise Fletcher, are very good; some, unfortunately including lead
Hunter Carson, are not very good.
But the main failing is that the tone is so inconsistent. Some scenes are played for horror, and work; some are played as if the intent was comic, and they don't work. If the intent was to actually scare us, after being taken over by the Martians, the parents should have acted creepy -- but instead, they act silly, which is hardly the same thing. It's not the fault of Bottoms and Newman -- they could have played the roles however the director and script suggested -- but rather a failure to go for broke. In the original film, after returning from the sand pit, the father brutally slaps his son. Here, the big weird touch is that he fills his coffee cup with sweetener. Doesn't quite have the same impact.
And what's with the frogs? Kids LIKE frogs; they don't regard them as creepy. There should never have been a scene without the boy in it, but there are several. There should have been some touches of surrealism to fit the all-a-dream scenario. Dream logic isn't like waking logic, but it's stringent nonetheless; this film ignores logic. In the original, the Martians take over the parents, the neighbor kid, the cops and the military -- exactly the targets a boy would expect. Adding a teacher wasn't a bad idea, but the other targets here, including a busload of kids, don't make any sense. Why would the Martians want to control a bunch of children?
The effects are good but not as well-conceived as they might have been. The sand funnel that captures people is fancier in this remake, but much eerier in the original. And Christopher Young's score is a disaster.
The opportunity was here to make a technologically-improved version of a much-loved classic original, but for the most part, the film doesn't live up to its potential.
Remake of the overrated 1953 film is even worse. It has the same basic
plot of young boy who witnesses a spaceship land in a nearby sand pit,
and how the adults, starting with his parents, are taken over in the
first step toward invasion, and of course the boy(along with the
eventual help of the military) are the only ones to stop these martian
Pointless remake offers more elaborate monsters, but they still look awful, and film is too stupid and unpleasant to work, with a really crass ending that renders the whole film moot.
Forget this junk!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tobe Hooper's elaborate, bigger budgeted 80s remake of the 1953 science fiction classic does have scale going for it, as well as a see-it-to-believe-it cast and talented crew. Scripted by Dan O'Bannon & Don Jakoby, it tells the story of David Gardner (Hunter Carson), ordinary kid who witnesses first hand the invasion of evil Martian creatures which proceed to enslave lots of local humans, Davids' own parents (Timothy Bottoms and Laraine Newman) among them. The problem, at least for this viewer, is that this doesn't have the stark nightmarish quality of the original, and is also often too silly for its own good, going for a camp quality, in terms of both acting and dialogue. Depending on ones' sensibilities, they can either appreciate or groan at lines such as "You'd better hurry, or you just might blow it." and "You don't carry loose change into combat, sir.". We also have the parents acting all goofy and eating either meat that's been overcooked or not cooked at all. Yet, moments like this contrast with some pretty good sequences such as seeing how the humans get their minds manipulated or when the tunnelling devices emerge from underneath the ground. The sets are quality stuff, what with people like Leslie Dilley ("Star Wars") as production designer and Craig Stearns ("Halloween" '78) as art director. The special effects are amusing, to say the least, with Stan Winston and crew crafting some memorable "Mr. Potato Head" aliens as well as a Martian intelligence that is actually kind of a cute lil' thing. The actors are mostly all pros (with the exception of Carson, the real-life son of co-star Karen Black) and some of them do a pretty fine job of maintaining poker faces. In addition to those actors mentioned, we've got Ms. Black doing an appealing job as the school nurse, Louise Fletcher playing her umpteenth Nurse Ratched like role as the miserly frog eating teacher, Bud Cort as a nerdy young S.E.T.I. scientist, the great James Karen of "The Return of the Living Dead" as an ass kicking, cigar chomping Marine general, Jimmy Hunt (who played the kid in the 1953 film) as the police chief, and veteran military technical adviser Dale Dye in a bit. One good thing about "Invaders from Mars" '86 is that it's never boring, and it does have nice touches here and there (the bit with the copper, the cameo by the original Martian Intelligence), and it's at least pretty true to the first film when it comes to the resolution. It's best recommended to undemanding fans of 80s genre fare. Six out of 10.
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