INVADERS FROM MARS (1953)

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Invaders from Mars Cover Puny people of the planet Earth, hello, my name is menopause, and I have come here today to tell you about the following 77 minute movie made in 1953. It is a good movie. I'm certain it is. And it was Directed by: William Cameron Menzies; and Starred: Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, with Morris Ankrum.


Invaders from Mars


THE STORY:
Now I know what I'm about to say to you might sound extremely peculiar, Doctor Blake (Helena Carter). But please. You've got to believe me. Or else I'll be stuck here in prison whilst the whole wide world will be attacked by aliens from outer space.

You see, last night, as I was looking through my telescope in my bedroom, suddenly I noticed a spaceship vanish into that field behind my parent's house. And then, when I rushed to my Dad George (Leif Erickson) and told what I just saw, by his own accord he then took it upon himself to find out what the heck was going on.

However, something strange happened to him while he was away. Something so strange and so bizarre I suspect it was the same thing that happened to two policemen and my best friend Lucy.

Yep! That's right. I'm afraid to say that the aliens got to them, Doc. A pack of evil looking aliens who turned these nice people into cold-hearted monsters, and resulted in the chief of police throwing me in prison!  

Still. That's most probably why what next transpires gets rather physical when you gaze down into my sad lonely eyes, and say, 'Don't worry, David (Jimmy Hunt). I believe you're story. And I have a sneaking suspicion that my colleague Doctor Kelston (Arthur Franz) will too'. As Colonel Fielding (Morris Ankrum) quickly jumps into play - a pack of aliens are difficult to shoo away - the army begins to work as a team - and at the end of the day, my God, was this merely a dream?




THE REVIEW:
Now if you like your science fiction movies garnished with an artistic flair complemented with a peachy keen attitude, then look no further, folks, 'The Invaders from Mars' has finally come into town.

Invaders from Mars Vintage 1953 Film Poster
OK. I have to admit. This film didn't just come into town. It actually came into town during the nineteen fifties. A time -- and a place -- where science bent drama's were chock full of wholesome family values plus all of that type of cr*p. Nonetheless, I did manage to find a free slot to watch it recently. And from my point of view it was one of those adventures I liked yet didn't like for a number of very specific reasons.

To start off with I best mention how I loved the way this movie looked upon the screen. In no uncertain terms there was a real attention to detail in how certain scenes came across. For instance, whilst particular sets where obviously constructed to convey a neo-minimalist style, other set pieces and background designs where built with a more bolder and artistic flourish, contrasting greatly between the foreground hues and the background hues.

Also, I have to applaud the suspenseful nature the first half of this tale had in spades. Essentially the first thirty minutes was told from a child's point of view, where we -- the audience -- followed him around from one scene to another, seeing when and how he will eventually find someone who will help him with his plight. In fact, this section was so captivating to watch, that when he does find someone to help him, afterwards the overall production lost its impact somehow. Almost as if what happened from that moment onwards felt less personal in tone, and not having that intriguing aspect it initially had.


Invaders from Mars Movie Poster Starring Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, with Morris Ankrum


Ironically enough, something else about this movie I wasn't too keen on was its gee-golly gosh attitude and temperament. Granted, I understand that it was developed in the fifties, and during this time apple-pie and wholesome family values were all the rage. Yet it was as though this era actually rubbed off on the plot with its suburban manner and coy demeanor. And this in turn made it more of a period movie involving a science fiction plot, rather than an adventurous science fiction plot involving real people. Especially during those scenes where the 'possessed humans' wandered around as lively as Justin Beiber fans, or how certain characters appeared to be mugging to the camera for the sake of tone and not realism.

Now a good illustration of this would be in that scene where the kid was worried about loosing his parents. Well, whilst the female doctor cordially embraced him with a nice warm hug, a few seconds later the male doctor sitting next to her flipped a pipe in his mouth and cordially posed for the camera.

No. Not cool, is it? Not cool at all. And to a certain extent I can say exactly the same thing about some of the creature costumes and how this movie finally ended. But I wouldn't want to do that to you, folks! Nah! If I do, I might spoil one of the most cliché ridden endings I've seen for a very long time.

Invaders from Mars 1953 Artwork
So I tell you what. Just to get us off track slightly, why don't we all now sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic-facts. (1) 'Twentieth Century Fox' first screened this $290 thousand dollar production in Detroit, Michigan, on the 22nd of April, 1953. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Space Invaders' in Italy, 'Space Devils' in Finland, and 'Mars Strikes' in the Netherlands. (3) The majority of this movie was shot at Hollywood's 'Republic Studios', situated within the Californian state of Los Angeles. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'Mankind's oldest fear comes to life!'. (5) Richard Blake wrote the screenplay for this flick based on a treatment told to him by John Tucker Battle, who was inspired by a dream described by his own wife. (6) Even though this adventure was shot using the 'new' single-strip EastmanColor negative processing system, according to certain sources it was also designed and planned to be shot entirely in 3D. (7) This was the feature film debut of the venerable television actor, Richard Deacon, who played an unaccredited MP. (8) Believe it or not, the special effects department actually used condoms to create the "bubbles" on the side of the underground tunnel walls. (9) To get a sense of wide cinematic perspective during some of the action scenes, little people where hired to double the main principle characters.


Alien From Invaders from Mars


Overall I'd say 'The Invaders from Mars' was a pretty fine film for it's time. Where as the plot was good, most of the sets designs were fantastic, and the general ambiance was way out of this world. What let it down the most was its fifties attitude and how certain parts of the narrative was too peachy keen for my own liking.

Specially, the ending. Nuff said.

THE RATING: B-