My three stars are based on the following–four stars for this memorable film–two stars for the picture and sound quality of the DVD. Some of the other reviewers will consider my technical “two stars” to be generous, and I will not argue with
I first saw this landmark sci/fi classic when I was younger than Jimmy Hunt, the lead actor in “Invaders”. Like many other “baby boomers”, I remember the experience very well. It wasn’t the Martians who bothered me–it was the idea that your own loving parents could suddenly become so “different”, not to mention friends and neighbours. This is a very frightening premise that reached its peak a couple of years later in the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.
Inevitably, the film is now dated in a number of ways–the “zippers” on the backs of the Martians are often mentioned–but it still has power too. First of all, Jimmy Hunt’s performance–here is a child actor who is totally believable, and his efforts to convince people of the unthinkable are compelling. Children who are not taken seriously–an old theme that is still relevant. Arthur Franz and Helena Carter are standard 50s leads, sympathetic but bland, but look out for Leif Erickson as our hero’s “Dad”–the scene where he comes back home a “changed man” still packs a wallop ( literally as well as figuratively ).
As others have noted, Menzies gave this film a terrific” look–that hill with the broken fence, the swirling sand, the strange music–this is an image that has stayed with me most of my life.
The “Martian Brain” may look a little crude today, but the idea of superior intelligence is a mainstay in science fiction, and this creature has numerous filmic descendants–the “brainy alien” in “Independence Day”, another more recent “invasion” comes to mind.
One problem I have always had with this movie–and it is a common experience in 50s sci/fi films–is an excessive reliance on stock footage. I guess it helped with the budget, but all those “military training” films that are woven into the story could have been edited. OK–the troops are coming to kick Martian butt–we get it !
It is safe to say that this is one of the most influential sci/fi movies of all time. True it does not compare in quality to some other 50s classics–”The Day the Earth Stood Still “,
“The War of the Worlds”, “Forbidden Planet” for example. Nevertheless, it is a movie that is embedded in the consciousnesses of many people of my generation–the saucer landing, the scared little boy, the strange hill where people disappear–all quite unforgettable.
Sadly, I must agree with the negative reviews of this DVD’s picture quality–when you mention “50th Anniversary Special Edition” etc. and see that the company responsible is Image–you have high expectations. I did not anticipate so many lines and general “wear and tear”. If this was the best print available, it is unfortunate. If anything, the nice cover and the interesting booklet add to the disappointment of the disc itself.
Bottom line–even with the visual shortcomings of the DVD, no serious sci/fi collector can leave this title out of his or her collection.
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I was very excited when this DVD came out, having some time ago purchase a cheap copy from one of those bargain-DVD companies. And while this is certainly an improvement over the grainy print I owned, I have to say I’m a little disappointed that the film still isn’t in great shape. A good portion of the outdoor scenes are pretty murky, making it hard at times to tell what is going on. Some scratches and minor imperfections are to be expected (even though, with today’s film restoration technology, I think even these can be fixed). And to be fair, this was a low-budget film that may never have looked that great. I guess I was just hoping for more.
Now, a word about the two versions of the film on this disc. I don’t want to give away the ending(s) to anyone who hasn’t seen it, but let’s just say the original U.S. ending has been considered by many fans to be a “cop out” ending. The British version does away with that, as well as the ridiculously long montage that proceeds it. But here’s an odd thing: I still think I prefer the more ambigious U.S. ending. It’s just more…I don’t know….FUN.
So maybe this is the best version of INVADERS FROM MARS we’ll ever get. It’s a fun movie, a minor classic of the beloved genre of 50′s sci-fi films. But it does in fact pale (both the film itself and the transfer) beside other acknowledged classics of that era.
If you like 1950′s Sci-Fi movies, or enjoy watching them with your kids (I love educating my kids to the classics),this is the perfect “watch-at-night-with-popcorn movie.” There are no whiz-bang effects (ballons and something that looks like boiling spaghetti sauce are used inside Martian tunnels under the sandpit) and the Martian costumes are pretty silly, but the story and character development more than make up for any shortcomings. I own both the VHS and DVD of this movie and I love the DVD. I don’t think a print worthy of total restoration exists and the audio is just OK (no spectacular Surround effects) but the DVD does have original trailers on it and it does not have the inherent pifalls of tape (drop outs, even worse color and audio). My kids (and even my wife) get hooked on this film when I play it. The suspense starts right away and the film gets you “inside” David (the starring character in the movie) so you feel his frustration in his attempts to reveal the secrets of the “Sand Pit.” Everyone, at some point in their lives, will have a nightmare where they run from an enemy and can never escape. This is the movie made from that nightmare.