Monday, October 10, 2011
31 Days of Halloween - Day 10 - Movie 2
Until today, I'd never gotten around to watching the Tobe Hooper remake of Invaders From Mars (1986). I suppose this is because this is a remake that never felt necessary. The original Invaders From Mars (1953), despite a lengthy section of military vehicles on the move which pads out the running time, is rightfully a classic of 50s science fiction and didn't really require being remade.
The remake follows the plot of the original. David Gardner (Hunter Carson), a young boy witnesses a UFO landing being the hill behind his house. No one believes him, but his father agrees to check it out. He returns, acting strange, and with a weird wound on the back of his neck. Soon more and more adults are showing the same symptoms as are some of the kids. There's a full scale alien invasion happening and David has no one to turn to for help except the school nurse (Karen Black, Hunter Carson's real life mom) and later the general at the nearby military base (James Karen).
The movie wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected it to be. It manages to capture a bit of the helplessness that David is feeling as his world crumbles around him and everyone in a position of authority seems to be part of the conspiracy at hand. Much of this is aided by the score by Christopher Young. The mood of the film is inconsistent. Once the military becomes involved every thing seems to fall in favor of the humans far too easily, with David being the one to solve most of the problems.
There are several nods to the original film, which just brings to mind how much better the original is. In the original, the adults, beginning with David's father are shockingly more threatening, and combined with William Cameron Menzies direction and production design, makes everything feel like it was being witnessed through David's eyes and simultaneously dreamlike, even nightmarish. Here, aside from aping that sinister fence leading to the sand pit, there's nothing special about the look of the movie. The aliens are more 1980s puppet looking that weird and not terribly imposing. David infiltrates and leaves their ship more than once with relative ease. The adults being controlled by the aliens act weird in harmless manners--putting Tic-Tacs in their coffee and eating raw hamburger. Only Louise Fletcher as David's teacher carries any menace, and she's single handedly able to make up for the lack of menace in everyone else. Carson's performance as David is all over the place. He gave an amazing performance in Paris Texas (1984) but is self conscious and in places where he's supposed to be scared and running from the aliens, over the top and goofy. When he's worrying about the plight of his family and feeling vulnerable he's fine.
This movie was an okay way to pass the evening, but if given the choice I'd take the original every time.