A young boy by the name of David wakes up one night and notices a flying saucer land not too far away and the next morning, his dad goes to investigate. That is when things go awry as David’s father comes back changed and not at all the person that his son knows and loves. Soon, all manner of people are ending up changed, emotionless and robotic-like and David feels like he is all alone. Eventually, thanks to a caring doctor, local astronomer Dr. Stuart Kelston and the army, the aliens and their dastardly plot are revealed and everything goes back to normal, at least until David wakes up the next morning.
Though many might dismiss this as a movie simply for kids, perhaps due to the fact that it stars a child in Jimmy Hunt and at times, there are moments where it is a little juvenile, it is ultimately a film that anyone can enjoy, particularly science-fiction aficionados. Interestingly enough it is told from David’s viewpoint which bolsters those aforementioned opinions, but it also gives the film a unique perspective, thus making it somewhat original compared to other films in the genre during this period. Doing as such also gives the movie a dash of horror, for one has to know that David must be pretty scared, especially after his parents are transformed. Being unable to trust anyone including the police among them, David’s world is closing in on him and it is only thanks to Dr. Kelston and Dr. Blake as played by Arthur Franz and Helena Carter respectively, that he manages to escape the very same fate. As for the horror present, the mind-controlled humans are those who happen to be the scariest of what is shown by far, for when the aliens are finally revealed, viewers cannot help but snicker at the awful costumes used. That being said though, the main creature with the tentacles, while looking somewhat cheap thanks to the lack of budget, was more inventive than many an alien seen on the big screen up until this point in time.
There is a surprising amount of suspense present as those who remain free of the alien’s control try to find some way to defeat the creatures. Director William Cameron Menzies works a bit of magic with the camera, creating some palpable tension from the first moment David’s dad snaps at him and it continues on until the aliens are finally realised. The visual effects Menzies incorporates are inventive even if the costumes suck a little air out of the room so to speak, but altogether, Menzies holds it all together quite well and there is never a dull moment to be found. Adding to this are the performances of the cast which sell the material and help bring Menzies’ vision to life.
Altogether Invaders From Mars is a gripping film, perhaps not what most might expect at first, but one that exceeds many expectations to become an exciting, sometimes frightening, yet commanding movie that is a true classic of the genre.
4 out of 5