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The movie revolves around David Gardner (Hunter Carson). David loves astronomy. One night during a freak thunderstorm he thinks he sees a spaceship land not far from their house, just over a hill. He tells his parents about it, but they think he was just dreaming. However, David’s father, George (Timothy Bottoms), investigates and when he returns in the morning he is a different man. He tells David he was right, that there was something just over the hill but before he gets a chance to show David, the school bus arrives to take David to school. Later, David’s mother and school teacher start acting just as strange as his dad and David suspects that aliens are involved. After he catches his teacher secretly eating during a meal, he knows aliens have invaded and are taking over people’s bodies. He meets with the only person he feels he can trust, the school nurse, Linda Magnussen (Karen Black). Initially she doesn’t believe David, but does believe something is going wrong in his life. But after seeing the truth for herself, she sets out with David for a nearby military base for help.
When this version of INVADERS FROM MARS was initially released, it was panned by critics and bombed at the box office. People kept talking about how good the original was and that this movie just didn’t live up to it. I don’t think any of those people ever saw the original movie because other than some amazing visuals and some fine acting by Jimmy Hunt as David Maclean, the 1953 INVADERS FROM MARS isn’t that great of a movie. There’s really only one alien in that movie and the rest are a bunch of Martian/human hybrid mutants that are referred to as “moo-tants” (instead of “mew-tunts) and are portrayed by people in green makeup and rubber suits running around with their hands in a robotic positions. The budget was so low that the interior of the cave in the original was made from blown-up condoms that were painted over. It’s true that watching the original movie now, there is a certain charm to it that initial viewers of the remake might not have felt upon watching the remake.
Still, you can tell that Tobe Hooper was a major fan of the original movie because his version carefully replicates the best parts of that movie and sometimes the worst (including the terrible ending). However, he updates the movie with a more modern feel and also leaves his own special touch in a few places. The result is a fun little piece of sci-fi horror that is overall actually just as good if not a tad better than the original. It’s a mix of humor, sci-fi action, and horror that at times borders on campy, but is blended fairly well. Also, watching the movie over 20 years after its initial release, the remake has a certain charm to it to, though of a far different kind than the original.
That’s not to say INVADERS FROM MARS is a great movie, because it’s not. However, it is a fun one. It’s a movie that people would probably enjoy watching on a rainy day or late at night when they can’t get to sleep.
The extras on the DVD include an original publicity featurette, a sci-fi featurette, and the original theatrical trailer.