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MAURY DEXTER'S 'THE DAY MARS INVADED EARTH' W/ KENT TAYLOR

Poster Art for the Maury Dexter soft invasion Martian flick YEAR: 1963
A location scout's job is to discover places to shoot that fits within a script's description  — what the movie needs, they'll find. But in particular super-low budget drive-in flicks like THE DAY MARS INVADED EARTH, as director Maury Dexter took a break from jazzy crime and bikini flicks, it seems like the other way around...

The Beverly Hills mansion where Dr. David Fielding, played by Dexter's WALK TALL villain and HARBOR LIGHTS hero Kent Taylor, and his family are holed-up after he discovering a way to connect or receive messages with the planet Mars, is like a character in itself  — and a starring role since much of Dexter's camera glides us through the endlessly elegant locale as if he'd found something amazing enough to write an entire motion picture around...

More like Roman ruins than a Florida mansion, this place has everything
This is not fact, only opinion, and not even that — the way the mansion's revealed merely seems like the tail wagging the dog i.e. the location driving the script...

Especially a long, curved driveway the couple enter as he, and the audience, witness for the first time, without aid of music as if we're on a quietly guided tour, just past a gated brick wall and iron gate to the mysterious labyrinth of a mansion further in, which includes a sort of bushy maze very much liken to a film that MARS is very reminiscent of, and could have, along with (and especially) BURNT OFFERINGS, been an influence for Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING based on Stephen King's novel...

Kent Taylor squared along a long and spooky, shadowy corridor
Not only the place but the story and characters — something's very wrong with dad, and his
family could be in jeopardy... Then again, the entire clan winds up with the same problem, so in this case, misery loves alien possession...

Basically, they're clones of themselves, and some of the more chilling, eerie moments occur when we first realize they're human copies: for instance, the husband is spotted in the vast backyard by his wife when, it turns out, he was really inside, and it's a slow and meticulous, creepy and mysterious fashion in which something is discovered, and nothing is really believed, even by the witnesses. Though it's not all so subtle: The first time we learn the secret is when the doc's double is revealed, sitting behind his desk after the Real McCoy leaves his office, ironically stating how there's no life on Mars... And it's more an intriguing science-fiction tale than a movie to actually scare an audience...

Kent Taylor aims at himself in Maury Dexter's soft invasion YEAR: 1963
The mansion and its lush playground takes care of that with its Gothic aura, and Dexter, king of the drive-in quickies, really takes his time here — the camera weaves around characters in a sort of celestial fashion with his usual spooky soundtrack...

As if the titular invaders are controlling the very picture, from the inside/out  — not a bad feat for what's considered pure camp cinema, and, while the performances are right on par as Kent Taylor spouts science-talk like he really knows it, since he really looks it, and as Noir favorite Marie Windsor's presence classes up the joint and serves legitimacy, her daughter, played by a lithe, pug-nosed Betty Beall, wields the perfect hybrid of scream queen and eventually, like the rest of the family  — strangers in the mansion as they're strangers to themselves  — a touch of creepy, foreboding mystique in this "soft invasion" thriller that's only real downfall would be any prior expectations of something with a bigger budget, or a desire for a flawless finale.
Cloned daughter Betty Beall be all sexy twice in Maury Dexter's sci-fi thriller THE DAY MARS INVADED EARTH
Move over, Mars Rover, or Wall-E, a steam iron is far more believable to roam Mars
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