Saturday, October 9, 2010
Invaders from Mars (1953)
One night, a small boy, David MacLean (Jimmy Hunt), sees a flying saucer land near his home. His scientist father (Leif Erickson) goes to investigate. When he returns, there is an unusual mark on the back of his neck and he behaves in a different, cold and hostile manner. Gradually, David realizes that there is a conspiracy in which the people of the town are one by one becoming cold and inhuman. With the help of a local astronomer Dr. Stuart Kelston (Arthur Franz) and health-department physician Dr. Pat Blake (Helena Carter), he learns that the flying saucer, that has buried itself in a sandpit just behind his home, is the vanguard of an invasion from Mars. The Army is contacted and convinced to investigate, leading to a military penetration of the underground hideout established by the Martians. The troops enter the saucer. Inside they find a Martian, mostly a large head with strange tentacles, encased in a glassy sphere. The Martian mastermind is served by tall, green, silent humanoid "mutants", who use cerebral implants to control the townsfolk in order to sabotage nuclear rocket experiments at a facility just outside of town. In the film's climax, the Army, scientists, and David flee from the sandpit as explosives hidden aboard the flying saucer count down their last remaining seconds. An excessively long sequence montage's David running downhill, with flashbacks of the events of the film, supposedly running through David's mind. This includes some sequences played backwards, as well as scenes and events at which David was not present, of which he thus, could have had no knowledge. This is inter-cut with shots of the explosive timer counting down. Following the explosion, David is back in his bed, awakened by thunder, as he was at the beginning of the film. His parents reassure him by telling him the whole thing was just a nightmare, sending him back to bed. As thunder wakes him again, he witnesses the same UFO slowly land at the sandpit near his house. Is this another dream, or was the first a premonition of a now real event?
The effect of the melting walls of the tunnels was created by filming a large tub of boiling oatmeal, colored with red food coloring and red lights, and shooting from above the tub. The bubble effect on the walls was originally created by using balloons pinned to the walls of the tunnels. However, on film it looked like balloons stuck to the wall. The effects team came up with the idea of using inflated condoms. They purchased 30,000 latex condoms, inflated them, tied them closed and pinned them to the walls. They looked much better on film than did the balloons. Scenes showing the holes in the sand closing up were created by running the collapse sequences in reverse (watch for rocks climbing back up out of the "holes" as they close).
INVADERS FROM MARS
WILLIAM CAMERON MENZIES (1953)