Ahh, memories. Today’s movie brings up some funny memories for me. See, the first time I saw this movie was in daycare. Yes, I said daycare. See, even though I was in 5th-6th grade, my mom and step-dad didn’t want me staying home by myself after school and since all three of my little brothers were in daycare, I basically went there too. But it was cool because since I was so old, I got some privileges that the other kids didn’t, such as drinking a coke and playing cards with the staff during nap time. Well, one day during nap time we had the TV on and this movie came on. I watched maybe the first 30 minutes but never saw the rest. Years later I would watched what I thought was this movie, only to realize it was the original version, not the remake, which was the version I had seen. So it was a while later before I finally watched the correct movie. Anyways, here’s to a fun memory as I watch today’s movie, Invaders From Mars (1986).
The plot: After watching a meteor shower with his dad, David Gardner witnesses a UFO land on the other side of a hill behind his house. He tells his parents and though they don’t believe him, his father, George, agrees to go look in the morning. The next morning, David notices that his dad is acting strange and has a strange growth on the back of his neck. After his mom leaves, George tells David that he was right and offers to show David what was behind the hill, but David, feeling afraid, runs and gets on the approaching school bus. After school, David returns home and, finding his dad missing, confides in his mom, Ellen, that his dad is acting weird. When George doesn’t come home that night, Ellen calls the police to report him missing, but when the police leave, George shows up, along with another man who is acting just like George. That night, David cries out as he sees his parents going up the hill and the next morning, his mother is now acting just as strange as his dad. At school, David sees one of the police officers talking with his Mrs. McKeltch, and when he spies on her, David sees her eating a frog and a bandage on her neck. David runs to the nurse’s office where Linda, after hearing David’s story and witnessing Mrs. McKeltch’s actions, gives David a key to her house and tells him to meet her there after class. As David tries to leave school, he is forced to avoid his parents as well as a classmate, who also has a bandage on her neck, and ends up hiding in Mrs. McKeltch’s van. Mrs. McKeltch drives to the woods and after she gets out of her van, David follows her and discovers a large tunnel in the side of a hill. Inside the tunnel, David discovers the UFO and sees his teacher walking up to a platform surrounded by strange alien creatures. When the alien leader, a giant brain, shows up, it begins communicating with Mrs. McKeltch via the node implanted in her neck before it notices David and sends his minions after him but David manages to escape. David heads to Linda’s house but when he sees the police there, he stays hidden in the woods, where Linda finds him. David tries to show Linda the tunnel but when they get there, they find the tunnel is gone. They then head to the hill by David’s house but see no sign of anything strange. They then see two men from the telephone company inspecting the hill, but after they get sucked down into a sand pit, David and Linda run for help. As Linda tries calling the state police, Mrs. McKeltch grabs David from Linda’s car, but David manages to get away and after yelling fro Linda, Linda manages to rescue him. They head to the school to try and call the FBI but discover the phones are dead and the police arrive looking for them. David and Linda hide in the boiler room but the cops find them and get ready to shoot them when suddenly an alien drill makes it’s way through the floor, allowing them to escape. They then head to the NASA launch base, where they tell the marine commanding officer what is going on. When the commanding officer questions some of the NASA men, they try to kill him but are apprehended but before they can be questioned, the two men are killed by the implants. The base is ordered on lockdown but a truck breaks through the security and approaches the launchpad where a Mars rocket is set to launch, and explodes, destroying the rocket. The marines then head to the school and David’s house, where they prepare to go fight the aliens. David, wanting to find his parent’s allows himself to be captured but is able to get away and save Linda by leading the marines to where the aliens have her. The marines set charges to blow the ship up and as they are all leaving, David winds up being chased by his parents. As the ship explodes, David finds himself waking up from a nightmare as his parents come to check on him, but when he tries to go back to sleep, David sees a spaceship landing and runs to his parent’s room, only to start screaming at what he sees inside.
Invaders From Mars (1986) was highly negatively received by the critics, earning a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics pretty much claimed that while the original movie worked on building a dark mood, this movie relied on special effects and any mood created was ruined by sequences that were made entirely for laughs. The movie wound up being a box office dud, making just over $4 million off of a $12 million budget. The movie was nominated for 2 Razzies that year but did not win them.
You know, this movie seemed a lot creepier when I was a kid. The acting was pretty bad all around. Hunter Carson (David) was pretty much your average kid actor, though he did look really stupid when he is screaming as he runs, with his arms flailing about. Karen Black, the top billed star, was pretty bland, at times seeming as emotionless as the alien controlled humans. It’s been a while since I have seen the original so I don’t know how close this movie compares to it. On it’s own, it seemed pretty weak. The special effects were good and the aliens did have an interesting look to them, but they didn’t make up for the weak plot. Considering that Tobe Hooper directed this, I expected a lot more but this was not as good of a movie as I remembered.
Rating: 2 out of 5