INVADERS FROM MARS
The original Invaders from Mars may have been regarded as more of a classic than it entirely is. However, it does have an effect one that grows out of William Cameron Menziess eerie direction, where he subtly distorted and exaggerated sets in order to create a sense of visual alienation from the young boys point-of-view. The remake is much more technically proficient than the B-budget original. The original, for example, merely used stock footage of military manoeuvres for the scenes of the Army moving into action, while zippers were visible on the Martian costumes. Stan Winstons Martians here are imaginatively created from the cattle-like drones and the organic machinery (eye-shaped guns, scythe-like tunnelling devices) while Star Wars (1977) effects supervisor John Dykstra turns out an impressive Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)-styled UFO.
On the other hand, the tone of this Invaders from Mars is much more different to the original. While the original was paranoid and physically alienating, the remakes tone is either comic-grotesque or parodying of 1950s science-fiction cliches. Out altogether has gone the visually distorting sets and even the telling of the story from the childs eye perspective. The nature of the film has changed from the outrightly paranoid to merely the affectionately weird. There is some occasionally amusing fun in the early scenes with the possessed humans, which are played for grotesque farce Timothy Bottoms drinks his coffee in one gulp and manages to inject something bizarre even into the knotting of a tie and his stilted introduction to the police This is my son, this is my wife; Louise Fletcher swallows a frog whole (one is not sure why); and Larraine Newman eats raw hamburger meat piled with salt and straight-facedly serves up bacon strips that have been burnt black. It is just that, while amusing, the comic tone here pales considerably when placed in direct comparison to the intensely paranoid opening scenes in the original.
Like the original, the remake starts to lose its grip during the middle third with too much running around town and at NASA. It does pick up with the military assault on the Martians, which turns into a witty send-up of 1950s cliches. The script offers such stalwart lines as: Marines have no qualms about killing Martians or Youre a lucky boy, David, not everyone gets to meet the Supreme Martian Intelligence. The scene where the scientist tries to communicate with the drone deflates a certain type of 1950s first contact earnestness. Screenwriters Dan OBannon and Don Jakoby have clear fun posing ideas as to how classical Martians could still exist in a post-Viking lander era. They also succeed in making David more intelligent than the average kids movie child characterisation. There are a few in-jokes from the original a Menzies Elementary High School and a cameo from Jimmy Hunt, who played David in the original, as a police chief, who has a line I havent been here since I was a kid as he visits the hill where the UFO went down.
Tobe Hoopers other films are the classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), the Southern Gothic Eaten Alive/Deathtrap (1977), the fine tv adaptation of Stephen Kings Salems Lot (1979), the slasher film The Funhouse (1981), the Steven Spielberg-produced ghost story Poltergeist (1982), the alien space vampires film Lifeforce (1985), the underrated The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), the dire pyrokinesis film Spontaneous Combustion (1990), the haunted dress tv movie Im Dangerous Tonight (1990), an episode of the John Carpenter anthology Body Bags (tv movie, 1993), the erotic film Night Terrors (1993), a really awful Stephen King adaptation The Mangler (1995), the weird apartment dwellers black comedy The Apartment Complex (1999), the monster movie Crocodile (2000), the slasher remake Toolbox Murders (2003), Mortuary (2005) and Djinn (2013), as well as directing the pilots for various genre tv series.
Dan OBannons other scripts are John Capenters classic genre spoof Dark Star (1974), Alien (1979), the zombie film Dead & Buried (1981), segments of the adult animation anthology Heavy Metal (1981), the hi-tech helicopter action film Blue Thunder (1983), Lifeforce (1985) also for Hooper, Total Recall (1990), the Philip K. Dick adaptation Screamers (1995) and Hemoglobin/Bleeders (1997), as well as directing the zombie film Return of the Living Dead (1985) and the H.P. Lovecraft adaptation The Resurrected (1992). Jodorowskys Dune (2013) details OBannons work as special effects director on Alejandro Jodorowskys failed adaptation of Dune (1965) in the 1970s. Don Jakoby served as OBannons writing partner on Blue Thunder and Lifeforce and solo-scripted The Philadelphia Experiment (1984), Arachnophobia (1990), Vampires (1998) and Evolution (2001).
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