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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Invaders From Mars (1953)

Sci-Fi melodrama.  That's probably the best way to describe Invaders from Mars.  It's part alien invasion, part Andy Griffith Show.  William Cameron Menzes steps into the director's chair for this one with a long history of art direction and production design.  It definitely shows.  [He won two Oscars for Art Direction including an honorary Oscar for his work on Gone With the Wind.] Invaders is a visual feast with a very controlled color palate and overall look.  It's quite effective and gives the film a wonderful look overall.  The only sad thing in this regard is that Netflix copy I rented was a terrible fuzzy print.  This is one movie that begs to be restored to its original glory like they did with Forbidden Planet.

The cast is solid, if not a tad bit annoying at times.  Jimmy Hunt plays young blue eyed, blonde headed David MacLean who is at the center of the story.  He's the first to figure out that invaders have landed on the planet and they're implanting something in the heads of earthlings that makes them behave like mind controlled zombies.  He channels his best Timmy and Lassie without the benefit of Lassie.  It's typical 1950's fare but it grated on my nerves just a bit.  The rest of the cast give a solid ensemble performance with no one in particular standing out.

The aliens in question are quite humorous when we finally get to see them on-screen.  They fall into the so-bad-it's-good category and I got the giggles watching the actors stumble around in their big rubber suits.  

The star of this show, however, is the plot, which is an inventive take on the typical alien invasion story.  Ideas from this film were definitely stolen by other films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and can also be seen in the recent TV series Falling Skies (2011).  This film also had a surprise ending which makes you rethink the whole entire movie. 

Invaders of Mars is a must-see for fans of Sci-Fi.  It inspired many films that followed in its footsteps and is a fine example of 1950's UFO paranoia.

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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