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Written by / 6/15/2015 / No comments / , ,

TOBE HOPPER DIRECTS THE REMAKE OF 'INVADERS FROM MARS'

year: 1986 rating: ***
Starting off... off the beaten path, relating only partially to the subject at hand, the infectious Steven Spielberg magic often gets rubbed off on his directors, from the likes of Robert Zemeckis, whose mailbox-shaking, license plate spinning BACK TO THE FUTURE looks nothing like the subtle I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND or USED CARS; Joe Dante, whose sparsely terrifying PIRANHA and HOWLING look and feel quite different than the rolling camera mainstream vibe of GREMLINS; Richard Donner going ultra-slick in GOONIES; and last but not least Tobe Hooper, the groundbreaking, blood-splattered, low budget exploitation king of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and the more conventional yet still ultra violent and thrilling FUNHOUSE, who, after stepping behind the lens for Spielberg’s ultimate ghost story POLTERGEIST, kept that mystical yet youth-friendly vibe alive in INVADERS FROM MARS, a chance for Hooper to show he could pull off an extravaganza WITHOUT Spielberg's backing while keeping a lot of the fantastical signature elements, epic soundtrack style and best yet, in 1986... for Karen Black to work with her son, PARIS TEXAS child actor Hunter Carson as David, and other memorable cult cinema moments like Louise Fletcher eating a frog and Martians who are actual costumed creatures ("ugly, slimy, giant Mr. Potato Heads") before the computer generated takeover: all in a film that balances a nostalgic b-movie homage with the kind of adventurous paranoia that delves our buried young lead within a nifty cast also including Timothy Bottoms as dad, Laraine Newman as mom, Bud Cort and POLTERGEIST human antagonist James Karen as a military general whose Marine compound could harbor government secrets… per usual in this genre. But we’re skipping way ahead…

Retro Opening Credits
MARS takes a little while to get going, starting out with a nuclear family too hip to be realistic – making sense when the inevitable monotone changeling occurs. The beautiful locations trump the somewhat dragging initial takeoff – one incline viewed outside the kid’s window (adorning the official poster above) winds into a rural, fog-shrouded backdrop reminiscent of E.T. with the enigmatic glow liken to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, adding to the dreamlike aesthetic and, like already mentioned, showing Hooper's residual influence (intentional or otherwise) to his former POLTERGEIST boss. 

Yet the coolest visuals are inside pivotal caverns, leading to origin-secrets revealed about the Martians, who, up until that point, seemed part of the kid's wild imagination... at least in the narrow-minded adult point of view. Only Karen Black’s friendly school nurse, not having the mark on the back of her neck like the others, seems legit, joining the trek to discover and uncover what’s behind the nefarious curtain, providing Tobe Hooper a chance to wield his own unique brand of paranormal intrigue and, for core fans, getting sporadically morbid and downright gruesome. Yet INVADERS never gives too much away for the characters or the audience, so even the overboard militaristic finale still holds an intriguing potential: that anything can happen around each cavernous bend.
Carton Hunter's perspective as Louise Fletcher provides the White Rabbit into Martianland
The Signature Location with the backs of Hunter Carson, Laraine Newman & Timothy Bottoms
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