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Invaders From Mars

D: Tobe Hooper C: Karen Black, Hunter Carson, Timothy Bottoms

William Cameron Menzies’ INVADERS FROM MARS (1953) is perhaps the closest thing to a child’s nightmare in the cinema – as LADY AND THE TRAMP must be to that of a dog – everything threateningly outsized, his parents changing into hostile adults, and the monsters under his bed all too real. His only ally is a schoolteacher, not too far removed from him in years, until she too is taken over. In the end, there is nothing he can do except run, of course without getting anywhere, “it was a dream” for once not being a cop-out.

And then there’s the 1986 version. Why?

The director has obviously understood nothing of the dynamics of the original. There’s nothing nightmarish, scary or even entertaining about it.

The Martians in Menzies’ movie had zippers in their back of their suits, and you were riveted. Tobe Hooper has John Dykstra and Stan Winston, and you’re checking your watch.

So maybe this “remake” has a mission after all, to make it clear to us that there are no more auteurs – aside from Spielberg in his thirties, nobody cares, not the audience, and certainly not the filmmakers. The cinema has become an old Marvel comic book fished out of the trashcan where it belongs.

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