Timelessly entertaining and worthy of cult status, Strange Invaders is beloved among sci-fi enthusiasts as an early-'80s tribute to its 1950s counterparts. It's got a touch of satire that Joe Dante fans will appreciate,... more » but director Michael Laughlin seems more intent on honoring alien-invasion classics like The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers while offering a low-budget alternative to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There's even a quick Steven Spielberg sight gag as an affectionate sign of the times, and the film's deliberately cheap-looking style blends well with eerie special effects and gooey alien makeup. The plot is simple--Paul LeMat investigates the disappearance of his ex-wife (Diana Scarwid) in a small Illinois town that's been occupied by aliens for 25 years--but the movie's creepy atmosphere and well-chosen cast (including Nancy Allen, Louise Fletcher, and The Thing's Kenneth Tobey) make it a fine companion to the films that inspired it. --Jeff Shannon« less
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 12/08/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Both an entertaining sci-fi spoof and a satisfying example of the genre in and of itself. Searching for his missing ex-wife, hero Paul LeMat travels to her hometown of Centerville (aka "Anytown, USA"), where everyone seems a bit odd, and nothing seems to have changed much since 1958. Could the town have been taken over ... by aliens?! That laser-beaming finger might be a clue! Let the scary but good-natured fun begin. Genre fans will want to watch closely for the many homages to films and TV series from the 1950's through the early 1980's including "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "Lost in Space" (June Lockhart and Mark Goddard have small roles), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", and dozens more. Other viewers may want to simply concentrate on the fine performances of LeMat, Louise Fletcher, Michael Lerner, Wallace Shawn, and especially leading lady Nancy Allen whose uniquely sassy charm serves the film well. The strangest performance is given by Diana Scarwid, who plays LeMat's ex-wife; she recites her lines in the same flat, sing-song voice that she used to play the adult Christina Crawford in "Mommie Dearest", and while her tone is distractingly obnoxious, she's impossible to dislike.The widescreen DVD presentation, though not anamorphic, is completely acceptable and beautifully showcases the often gorgeous cinematography. The sound and video tranfers are fine, although the source print does seem a bit grainy near the beginning of the movie. Extras include a director's commentary and the Original Theatrical Trailer. Overall, a very nice edition of a film that deservedly enjoys a small - but loyal - cult following."
Beware the Avon lady!
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 01/10/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A well-intentioned sci-fi romp that suffers a bit due to an indecisive director.He starts out with a campy, affectionate spoof of 50's sci-fi films (a la "Matinee"); but at midpoint does a 180 degree spin and gets "serious". In spite of this problem,the appealing performers hold your interest. Paul LeMat is an etymologist (who should have looked closer at his ex-wife's anatomy!)and Nancy Allen is the "Weekly World News"-type writer who joins him on an "X-Files" style investigation. There are some very funny bits, especially involving an Avon lady (who redefines the concept of "doing a face peel"). You'll have to look fast for a clever visual gag involving Steven Spielberg's photo. There's enough quirky charm here to even forgive the scene showing someone playing a video arcade game (in the 1950's?!).Note of irony: a subplot involving LeMat's daughter eerily pre-sages the Elian Gonzales situation (talk about an illegal alien!) Mostly harmless."
Nancy Allen Runs Off with 1983 Classic, 'Strange Invaders'
D. Hartley | 11/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie Strange Invaders has been a favorite since I saw it in the early 80's on HBO. The movie, re-released for purchase for the first time since its original release in 1984, heralds very special effects (amazing even by the standards of the new millenium). This homage to the 1950's martian classics brings together a great cast: Nancy Allen brings a great deal of depth to her role as Betty Walker, the tabloid reporter hot on the trail of the clandestine "visitors". Other actresses may have faltered considereing the circumstances, but Allen takes the ball and runs with it. Her solid performance adds the extra initiative that the viewer needs to actually care what happens to the cast. Paul LeMat, although a usual favorite, plays his role as Charles Bigelow a bit too stiff but for the most gives an impressive performance. Oscar nominees Diana Scarwid (as Margaret, Charlie's alien ex-wife and mother of their child) and Michael Lerner (as Willie, the now-locked-up key to understanding why the aliens are here on earth) co-star with One Flew Over the Kookoo's Nest Oscar Winner Louise Flether, who seems disgusted that after winning an Academy Award, her agent allowed her to get fifth billing in Strange Invaders.The great special effects, chillingly memorable score, tongue-in-cheek humor mixed with genuine thrills and the great performances (most notably the wonderful Nancy Allen who has been stuck in supporting roles in recent flicks like Steven Soderberg's Clooney-Lopez hit Out Of Sight and the Christopher Walken-Michael Rappaport mafia comedy Kiss Toledo Goodbye)Yes, it IS Strange, but campy good fun, too. Now MGM just needs to release this on DVD and all will be good....strange, but good."
Earth girls (and tabloid reporters) are easy...
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 04/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm sure many of us have had a sinking suspicion at one time or another that aliens have possibly been among us for awhile (you can't tell me that creepy guy who lives down the street from you is of this Earth), having insinuated themselves among our society, perhaps even cross breeding with our species, but few films really had the guts to relate the situation like that of Strange Invaders (1983), the film the aliens, and the gooberment, didn't want you to see...directed by Michael Laughlin (Strange Behavior) and co-written by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey), the film stars Paul Le Mat (American Graffiti, Melvin and Howard) and Nancy Allen (Carrie, Dressed to Kill, RoboCop). Also appearing is Diana `no wire hangers' Scarwid (Mommie Dearest, Silkwood), Michael Lerner (Eight Men Out, Barton Fink), Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Brainstorm), Fiona Lewis (The Fearless Vampire Killers, Tintorera), and Kenneth Tobey (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, It Came from Beneath the Sea), probably best known for his role as Captain Patrick Hendry in Howard Hawks 1951 science fiction classic The Thing from Another World...and keep and eye out for a couple of "Lost in Space" regulars in June `Maureen Robinson' Lockhart and Mark `Major Don West' Goddard in bit parts.
As the film begins it's the year 1958 and we find ourselves in the small, rural town of Centerville, Il. After some establishing shots we soon see a giant space phallus appear in the sky, heralding the arrival of non-indigenous life forms (I hope they brought some moon candy)...fast forward 25 years later and now we're in New York City attending a lecture on bugs hosted by professor of entomology Charles Bigelow (Le Mat). After the class Charles gets word from his ex-wife Margaret (Scarwid) that she has to return to her hometown of Centerville for personal business (a funeral), and Charles has to watch their daughter Elizabeth. After losing contact with Margaret (woo hoo, no more alimony checks!), Charles heads to Centerville to try and find her, which he doesn't, but he does find a whole lot of trouble as the aliens who took up residence so long ago, now posing as humans, give him (and his car) the business. Charles manages to escape and return to New York, but no one believes his fantastic tale, including Mrs. Benjamin (Fletcher), a gooberment bigwig with the National Center for U.F.O. Studies. After seeing a picture in a tabloid rag of a similar alien he saw back in Centerville, Charles contacts the reporter, named Betty Walker (Allen), who wrote the story, but it turns out it was all baloney, and the picture used just was one pulled from the files, received many years ago by some supposed crackpot. After some bizarre incidents (seems the aliens hopped a bus east and have been keeping tabs on Charles) including the return of Margaret and the kidnapping of Elizabeth, Charles and Betty head to Illinois to contact the person who originally took the picture in hopes of getting a lead on Charles' missing daughter, which eventually leads the pair into a conspiracy of epic proportions...
Being somewhat of an aficionado of classic science fiction films I found this feature to be fairly enjoyable given how much it had in common to those older films of yesteryear. The pacing of the film can be off at times, and the story uneven at points, but overall, taken in the right context, it's just a whole lot of fun. Paul Le Mat seemed an odd choice for the lead, as I've always thought he did better in more character driven roles like that of the film Melvin and Howard, but I thought Nancy Allen was dead on in her part as the streetwise, somewhat skeptical rag journalist, who apparently has a real affinity for kooks given how quickly she hooked up with Le Mat's character. Incidentally, I think Miss Allen was going through a `braless' phase here, as I haven't seen so much bounce since the last NCAA Final Four tournament. I was sort of puzzled by the end of the movie why so much emphasis was placed on Le Mat's character's profession, as it didn't play much of a part in the overall plot, but whatever...as far as the others, Louise Fletcher has a few scenes in the film, but not much comes of her role, which was too bad as I thought she could have added a lot more and Diana Scarwid does well enough in her part, although every time I saw her I kept expecting someone to pop out and whip her silly with a wire hanger (it had been a brief two years earlier when she appeared with Faye Dunaway in the career killer/cult classic Mommie Dearest). Both Kenneth Tobey and Fiona Lewis pop in and out of the picture, imparting very few lines but certainly passing themselves off admirably as human guised aliens determined to complete their mission, whatever the heck it was...there are specifics within the plot that are never really fully defined, but there is a scene near the end, as the aliens are gathering for some big event, where the head google-eyed space dude fills us in on some generalities towards the reasoning for their occupation, which, in my mind, was sufficient enough. I thought the special effects were decent as far as the true appearance of the aliens (there was a lengthy sequence involving an alien ripping of his fleshy, human covering from his head), and the various mental abilities they possessed, the most spectacular being able to shoot lighting from their fingertips (that'd be fun at a party). All in all I thought this was a fairly entertaining and respective tribute to science fiction features of the past, despite its' unevenness at times, worthy at least 3 ? stars.
The picture quality, presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), looks decent, even though it appears the film was originally shot with some type of diffuse filter, the effect being to soften the images. As far as the Dolby Digital mono audio, I thought it was slightly lacking, as it seemed the music was mixed louder than the dialog. There were times when I could barely discern what was being said, but I think this has more to do with the way the audio was originally recorded and/or processed, and not a flaw in the transfer. In terms of extras there's a theatrical trailer, French and Spanish subtitles, and an audio commentary track with the director Michael Laughlin (who also co-wrote the film) and writer Bill Condon. If you're interested in this release, I'd recommend searching out the double feature DVD release, also put out by MGM, which includes the feature Invaders from Mars (1986) as it's probably a better deal, especially if you own neither.
Not bad for what it is
GreatMovieCriticForever | 08/25/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"An ode to 1950's horror flicks involving aliens revamped for the 80s. The best parts of the movie are definitely the make-up effects unfortunately everything else leaves a lot to be desired: The characters are pretty one dimensional, the special effects are limited (though the scenes that are shot with the saucer and lasers coming out of the aliens head's are good). I remember Siskel and Ebert giving this a thumbs down for a couple of good reasons like the story itself and some of special effects. The movie takes place in Centerville twenty-five years after another invasion in the 1950s.
It's an ok movie if you want to relive those 50s, 60s flicks about aliens without much gore and violence. Nancy Allen's character as the tabloid reporter for the National Informer or whatever is called is a bit unbelievable (not too mention she is very "loose" toward men). Paul Le Mat as Charles Bigelow is a mixed bag. As Ebert said he is very much deadpan in the movie then again his character is a divorcee in the works whose not meant to be a hero. The aliens while menacing once we see their inner alien shell are also rather clumsy often not noticing that they might expose themselves. Then again as Mrs. Benjamin (Louise Fletcher) says the government and the aliens have learned to live amongst themselves. Also since this movie besides being an ode to those alien flicks is also a spoof there would be seem to be no real payoff as we've seen these type of flicks before. Director Michael Laughlin only directed another movie after this and it's not hard to figure out why. One source list Invaders as a flop which definitely hurt the guy's chances at making another movie. Allegedly the plan was for three films based on "Strange Trilogy".
I think for me seeing those black and white alien flicks might have expected a bit more in the effects and the gore department and definitely much more of a darker edge. Still though if you are into alien movies and you haven't seen this one it's definitely worth a rental. "