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With: Karen Black, Hunter Carson, Timothy Bottoms, Laraine Newman, James Karen, Bud Cort, Louise Fletcher, Eric Pierpoint, Christopher Allport, Donald Hotton, Kenneth Kimmins, Charlie Dell, Jimmy Hunt, William Bassett, Virginya Keehne
Written by: Dan O'Bannon, Don Jakoby, based on a screenplay by Richard Blake
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 100
Date: 06/06/1986

Invaders from Mars (1986)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Invaders from Mars was the second of three films that Tobe Hooper made for Cannon Films, a.k.a. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, those notorious cheapsters that cranked out dozens of bad "B" movies. But I find that Hooper's work for them was among the most vibrant and colorful of his career. This one was a remake of a 1950s film, an attempt to capture the paranoia that was swirling in the air around a Communist invasion. (Perhaps the fact that it was a remake was the cause of the film's original chilly reception.)

A kid, David (Hunter Carson, from Wim Wenders's Paris, Texas), wakes up to find that his parents, teachers, and other kids at school no longer seem like themselves. They do things like eat raw meat or live frogs, and they may have been taken over by aliens. He finds one human teacher, Linda Magnusson (Karen Black), who believes him and together they find the alien spaceship. It may look a little like a Disneyland ride (the movie is rated "PG"), but it's so boldly colorful and with such fascinating use of shapeless spaces, that it's weirdly effective.

Louise Fletcher co-stars in a typical role as a nasty teacher (the one who eats the frog), former "SNL" star Laraine Newman plays David's mom, Timothy Bottoms is his dad, James Karen is a general who is not prepared to take any guff from any aliens, and But Cort is a nerdy scientist. (The cast is made up of so many icons from so many great 1970s movies!) The visual FX are sometimes pretty cool, including the sand pits that swirl and swallow their victims, and Christopher Young contributes a creepy music score. Dan O'Bannon (The Return of the Living Dead) was a co-writer.

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