Heh, virtually word for word from my post over on the Classic Horror Film Board, but what the heck...
Another remake... and one I prefer slightly to original. Unlike Village of the Damned
, I have seen the original Invaders from Mars
and liked it, but for some reason, the 80's remake just sort of "clicked" with me more.
While remakes are usually hit and miss, this Tobe Hooper-directed film is actually quite well done, at least in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I like the original as well. But this one has a palpable atmosphere of slowly-building eerie dread and discomfort, helped along by a spooky score courtesy of Christopher Young and David Storrs (which I'm so glad was released by Intrada). The Stan Winston-created Martians are also a highlight, particularly the big-brained leader, and I have nothing but praise for the special effects used for whenever someone gets sucked underneath the sand. I'm unsure how they did it (some kind of swirling machinery? Reversing the film?) but it looks fantastic and creepy. As far as performances go, I love James Karen (Frank from The Return of the Living Dead
!) as Marine General Wilson.
If I have one complaint it's that the film adheres almost too
closely to the original, including the copout ending. Yes, in both versions, I hate the "It was all just a dream!" ending, I don't care what anyone says.
I also disliked that despite being overall more violent than the original, it fails to properly depict just how wrong the possessed people are supposed to be acting. Here, David's parents just act sort of spaced out and develop inexplicable, weird eating and drinking habits, whereas in the original they were harsh and violent; David's mere mention of the injury on the back of his father's neck earned him a backhand which knocks him to the floor. That shocked me as a kid. There is no such harshness here from the people the Martians possess. They're just weird.
Beyond that, it's a solid movie, and I highly recommend it as a pretty decent piece of 80's sci-fi and an example of an overall decent remake, up there with The Fly
, The Thing
and The Blob
from the same decade.