The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1963)
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The film struggles to overcome its budgetary constraints and suffers from some rather wooden performances from the limited cast. It is unfortunate that when dealing with such a small cast a below par performance is a great deal more obvious than it would be in most films. A case of not enough flowers to hide the weeds.
I was surprised to see comments from another viewer who attributed this film to the UK, as far as I can see there are no links to the UK. The writer was Canadian and the cast, director, studio and locations all American.
It's certainly worth 70 minutes of your time to give this production a chance, if nothing else it is a refreshing change from the hideously unconvincing "rubber monster" flicks that were so prevalent in this genre.
Writer Harry Spalding does an admirable job with story and script. The ending is effective and keeps within the plot framework. Most of the action takes place in one locale. So Spalding had to write for a restrictive setting. With less skill behind the pen, the movie would have played as a stage drama. Director Maury Dexter met the challenge well, for the show moves along at a fast pace.
The acting is first rate. Kent Taylor, TV's "Boston Blackie," was originally groomed by Hollywood to be a major romantic lead, but he never quite made the big time. He ended up making many B features during his long movie career. Yet he was an able actor who could be counted on to give a good performance, as he does in "The Day Mars Invaded Earth." Need I say Marie Windsor was one of the screen's favorite femmes fatales? She was such a convincing actress that many believed her screen image was the real thing. As with Taylor, Windsor never gave a bad performance. The surprise in this film is William Mims as Dr. Web Spencer who makes the most of his supporting role.
Apparently produced for the drive-in crowd, this seldom seen little gem deserves a second look.
A scientist with a troubled marriage sends a probe to Mars.Unknown to all concerned the probe sends back a little something,namely Martians as invisible energy beings.They become doppelgangers of the scientist and his family. Their mission is clear;to stop earth from travelling to Mars.(They like their high property values obviously).The Martians play havoc with his home life until the very end.
A small budget flick with an appealing cast of old pros.Quickly paced and well written by Harry Spaulding.Even a downbeat ending to add to the menace.Better than average and worth a look in a forgiving mood.
David Fielding (Taylor) and his assistant Web (Mims) are space scientists who sent a probe to Mars. The probe quits functioning within about a minute, so Taylor decides to fly to California, and to his crumbling marriage with Claire Fielding (Windsor). The Fieldings and their two children are living as guests on a huge estate.
The Martians, meanwhile, are quite irritated about the probe and dispatch exact doubles for the Fieldings, as apparently their first step toward taking over Earth. The rest of the movie consists of Taylor and Windsor seeing their doubles wandering around the estate, as they try to figure things out. Taylor has a final confrontation with his double, Mims is roasted alive by some sort of mind power the Martians have, and the movie ends with the Fieldings reduced to ash and the Martians taking over. The end is surprisingly downbeat for a movie of this type and for its era.
The movie, though mostly entertaining, moves like a glacier most of the time, although it does pick up toward the film's end. The title's promised "invasion" simply consists of the Martian doubles driving off in Taylor's car. Fans of Taylor and Windsor will certainly want to see the film, but be prepared for some pretty slow going. I still think it's a good "B+" effort.
this is the one.
this film creeped me out as a child - i remember having dreams about it afterward, and that the feeling of foreboding and threat, the horror of there being no escape, and the way that the characters never knew whether they were talking to their real family members or not, would sometimes enter my thoughts for years...
the ending i think was especially threatening - the sense of there being no way that anyone could find out the 'truth', when the evidence of their existence was washed away.... eeeughhhh.
so saying, i'd love to see it again now.
The plot of this sci-fi/horror film is very familiar and reminded me of many sci-fi and horror films of the day. A man (Taylor) is working on a project that has sent a probe to Mars. Soon, weird things start happening to him and his family--as Martians come to Earth disguised as him or family members. It seems they do NOT want humans bothering them.
This is all very, very familiar territory but with one twist. The ending was NOT at all predictable and was pretty off the wall. Otherwise, a decent film for those who love the genre. Not a great film--but worth your time and it makes do quite well with a small budget.
It turns out that the smoldering probe was actually the launching pad for the Martians -- essentially beings of pure energy -- to invade earth and produce dopplegangers of the scientist who built the probe and his family. It gives an interesting juxtaposition: Just who is invading whom? We tell ourselves that we're "exploring" Mars, but what would we do further down the line except colonize? Wouldn't it be reasonable to expect that sentient beings, seeing the planet being explored by another race, might take matters into their own hands?
In another light, one could look at the dopplegangers as the alternate face we show to others (even loved ones) that we may not even wish to recognize ourselves. This could be seen in the way the scientist and his wife relate to each other, especially when it is the "real" person meeting up with the doppleganged spouse. The final 10 minutes of this all-too-short movie are both shocking and thought-provoking.
Sterno says join the invasion forces.
As earlier commentators have noticed, their is no action at all in this execrable script, unless you give credit to people walking aimlessly -- sometimes running, even -- around the grounds of a mansion, or lighting up and puffing on cigarettes, or engaging each other in trivial conversation. Nothing much to engage the audience's emotions or attention.
Consequently, it was impossible not to doze off for about 20 minutes during the middle of this stinker, awaking only to witness the unsatisfactory, arthritic ending. When the words, "The End," finally appeared, I discovered that I was 70 minutes closer to death.
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Dr. David Fielding (Kent Taylor) sends a probe to Mars to see if there's life there but it seems nothing was returned. Soon afterwards the doctor begins to realize that something did happen and that the aliens have copied his body (as well as his families) and are planning on an invasion. THE DAY MARS INVADED EARTH really isn't all that original but I thought the film managed to be quite entertaining even with its incredibly low-budget. I thought the film managed to be quite interesting in regards to the story because instead of just giving us cheap looking aliens who look fate, the story decided to do something different and work with the budget. Here we never see any little green men or men with big heads but instead we just get doubles of the cast. I thought this made for some pretty effective scenes including one involving the daughter who wakes up in the middle of the night with the double in the room with her. I won't spoil the ending for those who haven't seen the film but it's quite unusual and very good. The performances are a major plus here as Taylor manages to do a good and believable job with his role. Noir regular Marie Windsor plays the wife and William Mims is good as a fellow scientist. The CinemaScope ratio really didn't add anything to the picture and I think more than anything it just exposed how low the budget actually was. Still, fans of the genre will want to check this one out. Even though it's not a classic it's at least entertaining.
You have to admit that it has a great title, but it's a promise that's totally unfulfilled. No spaceships, no aliens, no shootouts with ray guns or even earthly firearms.
The clichéd shot of a door mysteriously closing behind a character in the entryway of the house is the height of the suspense in this flick. So, what does it have? Well--long stretches of second unit footage, little dialog, and effects that make Ed Wood look like George Lucas. Don't even waste 70 minutes of your life on this stinker.
The full version, however, is quite entertaining and whilst the movie doesn't deserve the unstintingly overboard admiration of Maury Dexter's admirers, it's still well worth a look in its original CinemaScope format. Locations are atmospherically utilized, particularly the scenes in Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills.
All things considered, this film had some intelligent thought behind it. For example, it begins with a Mars robotic rover, dropped on mars. It functions for six minutes before it is destroyed. Dr Fielding who designed the robot, and his assistant Dr Spencer are played by Kent Tayler and William Mims. Dr Spencer has taken a weekend off, to visit his wife Clair, played by Marie Windsor, and his daughter Judi played by Betty Beal, and his son Rocky played by Gregg Shank. All is not well at the home-front. It is not just the Doctors neglect of his wife and kids, He is trying to make amends, What is spooky, is that all of the members of the family experience seeing doubles of themselves. These doubles turn out to be quite real, they are energy manifestations of the intelligent life forms that survive on Mars. Even back in the sixties, we realized how hostile an environment Mars could be. The Martians are on earth, to stop the invasion of their world. Although they seem reasonable, their solution to our messing around on their planet, is to kill us off. The doctor learns of this first hand from his doppelganger. All the members of his family have been replicated, and much like the pod creatures in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) their ultimate intent is to take over Earth. This movie has much in common with the Body Snatchers, a much superior film. We only learn of the Martians desire to do away with us, in the somewhat shocking last few minutes.
The film is effective because of how it is underplayed. The Musical score by Richard LaSalle is also old school, and very effective in creating the feeling of unease that this film achieves on such a limited budget. I liked this film, the Scientists acted with intelligence to understand the threat to their planet, but never truly understood the brutality of the invaders. The ending leads us to believe there is not much hope for the people of Earth. Well done, Slow moving by today's standard, it never the less builds to a satisfyingly disturbing conclusion. Eight out of Ten "Obscure but Good" Stars.
It concerns a scientist, who has just landed a probe on Mars, taking a vacation with his family. Suddenly he and his wife start seeing doubles of each other, and his daughter's boyfriend dies in a mysterious car accident (which causes them unbearable grief for about ten seconds). The scientist comes to the logical conclusion that these events must have something to with his Mars probe, so he calls up his friend Weber, who looks like Professor Fate's nerdy twin brother, to come investigate. They find out that Martians are indeed behind all this, and they (the Martians) are energy beings who can take the form of anything they want (the idea of beings consisting of pure intellectual force and no emotion has definite potential, but it could have been done so much better than this). He and Weber decide to "dissipate" the Martians without any explanation as to how they're going to do that, but first they have to get the damn driveway gate open, which has gotten stuck. So for the last ten minutes of the movie the wife is calling the maintenance department to come fix the gate while Weber tries to pry it open with a crowbar. By now the goofy meter is totally off the scale, because Weber is just working away at this gate with epic suspense music playing in the background (and no Martians in sight). It's like watching "Home Improvement" set to a horror movie soundtrack. I won't give away the ending, but I can assure you Weber does indeed get the gate open, which is pretty much the most climactic moment in the entire movie.
The movie does have some interesting, shadowy atmospherics, and the scene where the wife is being chased through the garden is well done and scary. On the whole, however, it is long, boring, lackluster, and illogical. The aliens' motivation for attacking the humans is shady (it's not like the probe was harming them or anything), and the "energy being" thing, while it could be a good device in another movie, just drives home this movie's Z-grade budget. I can't believe I watched this from start to finish. I could have spent that time mowing the lawn or something. Jeez.
All in all, I found it vastly entertaining from the POV of the film-making process. And when all is said and done, the story itself is not awful.
Decades later it was showing on some late night TV feature so I stuck in a VHS tape and went to bed. At 50+ years of age I found myself much more appreciative of the quality of this production. Though obviously low-budget with non-existent special effects I recognized that the director had created a superb atmosphere of mystery and fear. As a child I wasn't able to get it, but as an adult I most definitely did. (Interestingly, I was still enthralled by the Greystone Mansion. I have a peculiar romantic taste for such construction.)
Though it will never be high on anyone's list of best science fiction movies it deserves far better than the short shrift rendered by my 4th grade analysis. I understand that it is now available on DVD and will definitely give it some consideration.
You know what was really creepy though? Before Judi's (Betty Beale) boyfriend Frank (Lowell Brown) had that unfortunate accident, the couple was going to spend a lively evening at a seminar dealing with enzyme induction in e. coli! I can't think of a more exciting date night, can you? Too bad about the car crash though, he probably should have taken a defensive driving course.
So this whole thing started when a Martian space probe robot inadvertently beamed down the essence of a Martian intelligence that was determined to put a stop to America's tinkering in outer space. Unlike the warning that came at the finale of "The Day the Earth Stood Still", these Martians weren't about to take any chances, and simply turned the Fieldings and family friend Web Spencer (William Mims) into crispy critters. The one that took Dr. Fielding's (Kent Taylor) form made no bones about it, they were taking America out of the space race first and dealing with any other countries that came along after.
The whole time I'm watching the picture, I couldn't get over Taylor's resemblance to Vincent Price, making me wonder whether Price might have been considered for the picture. He would have been a natural, having played a handful of mad scientists in his day. The only other thing I was left wondering about after that wonderful tour of the Wainwright estate was - how the heck deep was that swimming pool?
There were some truly creepy moments in the movie, though. Claire Fielding (Marie Windsor) learns from her son that there is an open door on the estate property where the family is residing. She goes to lock it, then hears movement around her. She becomes scared and hurries on. Suddenly her husband is standing there, with a look that is malevolent. "Where are you going, Claire!" he asks in an a threatening voice. We the audience know that it's really a Martian, but we watch from the point of view of Claire, who's never seen her "husband" this way, and the effect is unsettling. Another weird scene involves the daughter and her doppelganger - the doppelganger looks at her with evil intent. Not to mention what the daughter's doppelganger does to the young love interest of the daughter. As for the rest, watch and find out.
This film is better than its low rating, and I'd say if you like those low budget scifi's from the 50's and 60's this one is definitely worth your time.
Kent Taylor of the gelled wavy hair and the would-be movie-star mustache looks and acts like an actor with gelled wavy hair and a would-be move-star mustache. Nothing personal. He probably loved his dog and everything but I've seen performances at least equally good in community college plays in St. George, Utah.
The other family members and the doctor who is a family friend almost reach Taylor's level of competence. The exception is Marie Windsor. She may not be as succulent as she had been ten years earlier playing various sluttish types in B movies but her performance is the standout. Plus she has this goofy beauty -- tall, slender, big-eyed and sexy -- reminding one of Ileana Douglas today. It isn't that she gives a brilliant performance here. I don't want to give that impression. The movie doesn't really leave her much wiggle room in the role of the worried wife. It's just that, watching her on screen, it's possible to forget that you are watching actors getting paid for making believe they're someone they're not.
Speaking of being someone you're not -- what a plot! I have no idea where the story came from, whether someone thought it might be time to roll "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers" back out again, or had recently been impressed by a popular SF TV series like "The Twilight Zone" or "Outer Limits," but it's all pretty familiar in one way or another.
What happens is that these -- well, these "forces" ride an intense radio beam from a recently landed explorer back down to Earth. I think. Actually the science behind the explanation was pretty thoroughly under my head, or maybe there was some exposition in the first few minutes that I missed. Anyway, these half dozen bundles of photons or whatever they are come to earth, turn the bodies of half a dozen earthlings into ashes, and take their places. Now, as I say, I found this a little hard to follow. Sometimes, as in the case of Kent Taylor, the forces seem able to duplicate their targets and actually walk around with them, holding conversations. At other times the victims must be turned into ashes in order for the force of energy to assume the -- are you following this? If not, don't worry about it. Rent "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or even "The Body Snatchers." Sei gesund.
*Special Stars- Kent Taylor, Marie Windsor, William Mims, Betty Beall, Gregg Shank *Theme- Planets always defend themselves.
*Trivia/location/goofs- This film was shot in Beverly Hills, Greystone Mansion. The owner was an oil billionaire, now a public park and the house is open for tours as a county park. Look for the jokey robot probe on Mars in the opening scenes.
*Emotion- Very little intricate plot points are in this film and the film's downbeat ending is expected, premature and boring. The only plot twist scene that was memorable was the family's body ashes are seen in the pool and that washes away when the pool is filled by the Martian impostors. A thoroughly un-entertaining film in all aspects. Does not have even a 50's B-movie corny dose of a campy fun for the viewer. A flat film with little to call memorable.