I vividly remember seeing this in theaters with my big brother Mike. This was 1986 and a great time to be a movie going punk like myself. I have not seen the film since, but I’ve always held onto its memory with a warm embrace like holding a steaming hot cup of coffee packed with saccharin tablets. Upon my recent (and second) viewing of the film I was delighted to find out how much I still enjoyed it and even MORE delighted to find out how weird it is. I must have missed that detail the first time around. Thanks to Scream Factory, now you too can enjoy all the fun and weirdness.
Invaders From Mars tells the story a young boy, David, who dreams of life in outer space. His father works for NASA, so David has a direct line to learning more about the great galaxy and life beyond our planet. However, his dreams turn to nightmares when – big surprise – invaders from Mars arrive…and in a Body-Snatcher’esqe way, take over his family. He turns to his teacher for help and together, along with the help of the toughest army in movie history, attempt to thwart the alien plans for world domination and stealing of our beloved copper. Bastards.
As noted, the film was made in 1986 and boasts a large, pre-CGI effects pedigree. John Dykstra and Stan Winston provide some awesome visual and creature effects for the film. Winston’s alien creatures are hilarious and gorgeous at the same time. The alien ship, which has burrowed below the town, is cavernous and has some beautiful set design. The film’s scope felt much bigger to me this time around than it did back in 1986 and honestly I think most of it totally holds up. Karen Black, Tim Bottoms and Laraine Newman turn in some great performances. Newman makes a little nod to the Coneheads which is cute. Academy Award winning Louise Fletcher has an Oscar worthy moment where she eats a frog, and the always kick-ass James Karen delivers the film’s best line, “Marines have no qualms about killing aliens!”
The extras on the Blu-ray are well thought out. In a retrospective, Director Tobe Hooper does a nice job walking us through the steps of getting the film made all the way to the film’s poor performance at the box office. You can tell he really loves this movie. Composer Christopher Young, kid actor grown up Hunter Carson and effects artist Alec Gillis all weigh in with some great behind the scenes memories. Tobe Hooper also has an audio commentary and there is a production illustration gallery with commentary from prolific artist William Stout. All in all, some good extra viewing for the fans.
In watching all these extras, you do get the sense that in updating the film, they had a hard time to balance the tone of campy fun with contemporary high stakes and violence that was prevalent in the 80s. Maybe at the time, the audiences just didn’t vibe with a remake of this nature. The original film from 1953 was taking its cues not only from modern space exploration of the atomic age, but also the red scare. “Is your neighbor a communist?” Maybe those themes didn’t play as strong by 1986? I remember the film being great fun back then and it still is today. Scream Factory, once again, has put out a great looking release for fans to enjoy.
Just remember, if someone ever asks you to take a walk to Copper Hill, DON’T DO IT! Instead, watch Invaders From Mars to learn the truth!