The cold-war paranoia of the McCarthy era had America in its grip when the original Invaders from Mars was released in 1953, and this atmospheric, highly influential science fiction film--the first of its kind to be filme... more »d in color--was perfectly in tune with the mood of its time. Jimmy Hunt plays the quintessential American boy of the post-war years--a freckle-faced kid named David who's curious, alert, and possibly prone to elaborate flights of fancy. Then, during a midnight thunderstorm, he witnesses the landing of a flying saucer that buries itself underground in a nearby field. David's father (Leif Erickson) indulges his son's urging to investigate... and thus begins a bizarre and chilling story of alien invasion, with David's cries of "Martians!" falling on deaf ears as more and more adults are abducted, probed, and placed under alien control. Designed and directed by William Cameron Menzies (one of the greatest production designers of Hollywood's golden age, whose credits include Gone with the Wind), this eerie little thriller benefits from Menzies's skill at combining physical settings with psychological undercurrents of paranoid terror and resistance against the alien threat. It's still most effective for younger viewers, with Jimmy Hunt providing the story's youthful point of view. And although the malevolent aliens look campy now, with a leader who resembles a bubble-brained squid in a fishbowl, Invaders from Mars remains one of the seminal science fiction films of its time, paving the way for The War of the Worlds and the rapidly developing trend of alien-invasion thrillers. --Jeff Shannon« less
Margaret S. (morgan2010) from GLENVIEW, IL Reviewed on 2/18/2010...
This is one of the best 1950's monster movie. It doesn't have big special effects, because it uses suspense. A littler boy wakes up in a storm and sees a circular space ship lands into the sand marshes by his house, and the story beings...
"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 them.
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."
Mislabeled and Misleading
SaraAutumn | Virginia | 08/05/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"On late night black and white tv, this movie scared me to blackout my bedroom windows (which didn't please my parents). William Cameron Menzies was a visionary. His stark style of design and tight storytelling still affects me as a designer and a writer. This past year I saw IFM on TCM and my imagination must have been at work because it wasn't the same movie. But then TCM's savvy host wised me up. The copyright was up for sale and some bozo bought it. He thought it needed more military action and inserted stock footage of tanks loading (to the tune of "Caissons" no less), and other footage of tanks coming to the rescue. In other words he reedited a classic. So if you buy the DVD and it says Original U.S. release. It's a lie. Send that warning to the FBI."
Great old sci-fi flick...but is this the best transfer?
A. Gammill | West Point, MS United States | 12/23/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"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."
A classic 1950's Sci-Fi
Daniel J. Filice | Burbank, CA United States | 10/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Quintesssential '50's Sci-fi
comtad | 04/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The 1950's were a movie theater-goers dream come true, particularly if you were a kid and loved sci-fi. It seemed like every Saturday in the summer we were off to the matinee with our silver quarters to see the likes of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", or "Them!", or "The War of the Worlds", or this low budget marvel, "Invaders from Mars."By now, almost everyone knows about it and its cold war innuendo. But as kids, we didn't know and couldn't have cared less. All we knew was "Invaders from Mars" was scary and memorable, particularly the last sequence with the flash-backs and the Martians' bizarre surgical procedures which turned lovable citizens into obedient, nefarious saboteurs (anyone for a commie takeover)? And who could forget the tentacled, silver-painted, cold blooded Martian leader in the glass dome? ("He is mankind developed to it's ultimate potential"). Instant nightmare material.The picture quality isn't anything to rave about, even on the current DVD. There are plenty of celluloid carry-over scratches here and there and some segments, particularly during the last third of the film where they're in the dark a lot, seem a little washed-out. What's most irritating to me, however, is that the section in the observatory where Arthur Franz and Jimmy Hunt are reviewing models of various types of space craft which could be visiting Earth, has been omitted. Most people probably won't miss it though.Nevertheless, "Invaders from Mars" is still quintessential sci-fi of a bygone era. It is testimony to just how a fast pace, good story and keen directing (William Cameron Menzies) can overshadow a modest budget. It is every bit worth the price of admission!"