When I was a kid, my mother didn’t want me to watch horror or science-fiction movies because, in her words, “They’re too scary. They’ll give you nightmares.”
Well, it’s true that I was prone to nightmares (I still am, although they haven’t bothered me much recently), but I managed to see quite a few scary movies anyway. And let me tell you, INVADERS FROM MARS is right up there when it comes to movies that’ll scare the crap out of a little kid.
Start with the fact that it’s told from the point of view of a kid, a boy who sees a spaceship land in a nearby sand pit. His parents don’t believe him, of course, but to humor him, the kid’s dad goes to check it out anyway and comes back . . . changed.
That’s just the start of an almost surreal movie that’s filled with Fifties paranoia. The young protagonist comes to realize that nobody can be trusted, not even his parents or the cops, and sometimes even the most bizarre, otherworldly threat can be real.
This movie has a solid cast of B-list actors and great direction and sets by William Cameron Menzies. As some of the people who have left comments on IMDB point out, it helps to see it for the first time when you’re nine years old. I watched it again as an adult and while it’s still great to look at and has a lot of nostalgic appeal to it, it’s impossible to recapture the excitement and nightmarish thrills it gave me when I was watching on the old black-and-white set in my parents’ living room. Still, if you’ve never seen it, it’s well worth taking a look at. There’s a remake from 1986, but I’ve never bothered with it.
40 years ago
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