A seminal film in the annals of Science Fiction Cinema, Invaders From Mars has the ability to provoke the frightened child in all of us. A young boy has a nightmare (or does he?) about a flying saucer landing near his back yard after which his parents and others transform into possessed, soulless saboteurs with tiny control devices implanted in their necks. The film was released in 1953 when the United States was still in the Cold War paranoia grip of the McCarthy era and UFO sightings were increasingly on the rise. It was the classic 'don't watch it with the lights turned out' sci-fi film and is still considered by many to be the scariest sci-fi movie to come out of the fifties. Brilliantly designed and directed by William Cameron Menzies (Academy Award winning art director for Gone With The Wind and director of the H.G. Wells classic Things To Come). With a meagre budget of $290,000, he and cinematographer John F. Seitz (Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend) used minimalist sets and forced perspective to lift a standard invasion story into the surreal. Menzies clever designs distort the viewer's perception to that of a small boy's nightmare. The child's idea of a police station (stark and stretched, as if designed by Dali), of a scientist's lab (towering test tubes frame the image like jail-cell bars), and of the principal set, an oddly foreshortened grassy knoll, on the far side of which loved ones are taken body and soul. The eerie score by Mort Glickman and the otherworldly, inky hues of the CineColor process add to the dreamlike distortion of reality. These days, feelings about the film fall into two camps. One opinion is that of a schlock, Saturday matinee with cardboard sets and wooden dialogue, budget saving devices such as repeated stock footage of US troops and Martian slaves costumed in velour jumpsuits with visible zippers. Then there are those that venerate it as the definitive embodiment of Cold War paranoia and alien infiltration. A spellbinding yet flawed masterpiece of expressionist design that weaves a dreamlike aura where childhood fears of otherness and detachment stab at the subconscious. It is likely that both are right.
It is spine-tingling from scratch, with excitement and suspense being built and maintained through a cleverly contrived screenplay, sincere performances and adroit direction by William Cameron Menzies. --Box Office Magazine
A Sci Fi classic that, at least in Savant's opinion, should be showing in the Louvre. --DVD Savant
Invaders From Mars is one of the classics of golden age science fiction, right up there with Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and When Worlds Collide. --IgN