Invaders From Mars is one of those films that many people fondly recall seeing as a child, but have to laugh at a bit when they see it as adults. But while the primitive effects, pajama-costumed Martians, and second-rate cast don't inspire the chills they did in 1953, they still make for an entertaining trip down memory lane, even if the film seems like a potential candidate for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. Director William Cameron Menzies (who helmed the 1936 classic Things to Come) keeps things flowing and his art direction is quite good considering what must have been an extremely low budget. The picture opens strong as young Jimmy Hunt watches as a strange force takes control of everyone around him. Unfortunately, once the troops are deployed, very little of consequence happens until they finally break into the Martians' underground lair. The screenplay by Richard Blake must have run out of steam by this point as Menzies heavily pads the film's final reels with repetitive footage of running Martians, running soldiers, and the occasional explosion. A surprise ending is rather amusing, but takes away from the film's overall impact. The cast also reflects the low budget and their performances are routine, although Hillary Brooke as the boy's mother registers a classic '50s line when she says, "He's been reading those trashy science fiction magazines. He's completely out of control!" The special effects are simple, but effective with top honors going to a Martian ray gun that turns rock to molten liquid. The Martians themselves look like men wearing pajamas with the feet in them, and their leader is a head with tentacles who is mounted in a fishbowl. The film was remade in 1986 by director Tobe Hooper and featured Hunt as a police chief.
by Patrick Legare review