Scream Factory has released a truly special 80’s remake of a brilliant Sci-Fi classic on Blu-ray. Let’s talk about a movie that epitomizes me childhood. Tobe Hooper’s remake of Invaders from Mars hits in all the right places if you’re a fan of fun, effects driven horror that maintains the air of childlike wonderment met with colossal, space-phobic, nearly McCarthyistic fears of being invaded. My father sold this movie to me on the premise that he used to watch the original, 1953 movie when he was a kid. He’d preface our repeated viewing of the remake with “the original was scarier” which I believe it was… for him. Looking back at it today it has a truly creepy aesthetic with some creature creations that maintain their level of fright. Still, nothing compares to giant, toothy eyeball creatures with lasers on their backs. Let’s run this bad boy down with some thoughts on this movie and the Blu-ray product that is something special for a fan like me.
While I love the look of this movie, the space ship looks pretty cheesy. It actually sounds better than it looks. What always struck me about Invaders from Mars was the terrain in which it takes place. These hills are monstrous. How does a kid ride a bike around this town? The road that leads up to the house and hill in the backyard are good for sleigh riding… to death. What may be more disturbing than the hills is that our protagonist, child hero drinks Dr. Pepper for breakfast alongside a bowl of Captain Crunch. As a father, I’m horrified. More terrifying than even the laser monsters. As a kid at heart… feed me! Let us not forget the important of the 58d penny that magically appears as a gift early on in the film. What are the odds? Clearly this is a movie for the kid in all of us.
The teacher played by Nurse Ratchet (she will be forever known as Nurse Ratchet no matter what name she was given or has assumed as an actress) is terrifying. When I heard 126.96.36.199.5. quickly annunciated in succession I freeze and figure that I better find a payphone to call in the army reserves. Balance that with my teenage daydream Karen Black in the role of the heroic teacher and I’m hot… for teacher.
The effects really don’t hold up, but the colors are fantastic as if this thing was shot in Technicolor. This thing looks like a moving comic book. I still love the creature creations despite the flaws I see in them now. I mean, the lead alien comes out of an anus which wasn’t apparent to me as a child, but now… I know a brown eye when I see one! The big ol’ mouth monsters still freak me out especially as respects the finale scene in the movie (not to be spoiled even though the movie is almost 30 years old).
The music is pure 80’s perfection at times and at others reminds me of some made for TV efforts, stale. Still others times I get the feeling like I’m listening to a classic WaxTrax industrial album.
The opening menu may not be much to write home about the but the reversible cover art feature both classic Invaders from Mars artwork and artwork that I have never seen before on the inside! That was damn exciting. The transfer looks good, crystal clear with great big blacks and rich colors. It’s clean. The new retrospective is filled with interviews and back story around the release and creation of the film. It’s a great effort with plenty of interesting tidbits that make you understand what could have been if Stan Winston stuck around to kick ass on Invaders from Mars. That’s not to say I do not enjoy the work of Alex Gillis and Gino Crognale, but Winston is Winston. The storyboards and original production illustrations are brilliant. I strongly recommend you enjoy them.
Watching this movie made me realize just how much I took with me from Invaders from Mars. It embodies most aspects of the horror movies I would later find most enjoyable save for any skin (Karen Black makes up for that) and perhaps a bit light on the gore. The family’s Bronco II looks like the A-Team van for Christ sake. I strongly encourage the highfalutin Sci-Fi crowd to come back to the basics of Invaders from Mars, both the remake and the original. This isn’t my favorite Tobe Hooper movie, but it’s one of the most influential on me as a fan of Sci-Fi, Horror (not simply Sci-Fi in this case).
You can pick up Invaders from Mars from Scream Factory on Blu-ray now:
Synopsis from Scream Factory:
This space-age creature feature is crawling with horrifying hordes of Martians hell-bent on stealing your soul – as well as your planet! Little David Gardner's starry-eyed dreams turn into an out-of-this-world nightmare when invaders from the red planet land in his backyard and unleash their hostilities on unsuspecting earthlings! Paralyzed with fear as the aliens take over the minds of his mom, dad and even his schoolmates, David must somehow find a way to stop them -– before they turn the whole human race into brain-dead zombies!
- Audio Commentary with Director Tobe Hooper
- The Martians Are Coming! - The Making of "Invaders From Mars", an all-new retrospective featuring interviews with Director Tobe Hooper, Actor Hunter Carson, Special Creature Effects Artists Alec Gillis and Gino Crognale, and Composer Christopher Young
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
- Original Storyboards
- Original Production Illustration Gallery from Artist William Stout with Commentary by Stout
- Still Gallery