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William Cameron Menzies
Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz
Writing Credits:
Richard Blake, John Tucker Battle

A young boy learns that space aliens are taking over the minds of earthlings.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Spanish DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 80 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 7/11/2023

• “Architect of Dreams” Featurette
• “Jimmy Hunt Saves the Planet” Featurette
• “Terror From Above” Featurette
• “Restoring the Invasion” Featurette
• TCM Festival Intro
• European Observatory Sequence
• European Ending
• Image Gallery
• Trailers
• Booklet


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Invaders from Mars [4K UHD] (1953)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 2, 2023)

While science-fiction about aliens clearly existed well before the 1950s, that era’s “space race” and other factors sent the genre into overdrive during that period. For an example of this, we go to 1953’s Invaders from Mars.

One stormy night, young David McLean (Jimmy Hunt) believes he sees a flying saucer descend in his area. Subsequently he thinks adults start to act abnormally.

David clearly feels the alien arrival and the strange behavior enjoy a connection, so he turns to Dr. Pat Blake (Helena Carter) for help. Along astronomer Dr. Stuart Kelston (Arthur Franz), they become an unlikely trio in an attempt to subvert an alien invasion.

Like many other 1950s sci-fi/Little Green Men movies, Invaders offers a clear example of the period’s anti-Communist paranoia. With World War II behind us and the Soviets as an apparent existential threat, Americans saw Commies behind every bush, and films used fantastical scenarios as metaphors for these fears.

Outside of this allusion, I’ll leave it to others to analyze the movie’s social significance and themes. Here I’ll preoccupy myself with one primary question: does the movie work after 70 years?

Sort of? Invaders comes with some genuinely strong moments, but it also includes segments that feel like the cheesiest of 1950s sci-fi fromage.

The movie’s first half fares best, as it digs into paranoia and a subtle threat. 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers offers a better-regarded take on the topic, but Invaders nonetheless looks at the way the aliens take over humans in a creepy and compelling manner.

Invaders manages to do so in a surprisingly low-key manner. I expect shrill theatrics from this era’s genre efforts, and we do find some of that.

However, much of the first half of Invaders delivers an understated and eerie vibe. Even with some of the inevitable melodrama and camp, these moments connect.

And then we eventually meet the Martians and it all goes downhill. Actually, Invaders begins its decline earlier, as it loses some momentum after its first act.

While the movie opens with the aforementioned intrigue and creepy tone, Invaders soon slows to a crawl. We end up with endless shots of tanks as they roll and other bits of padding that seem intended just to fill space.

Invaders really struggles to come up with enough content to get to its brief 80-minute running time. Too much of the movie feels like flab that eats minutes but does nothing to develop the story.

When the third act arrives, we finally get to meet the Martians. Unfortunately, as implied earlier, this damages the movie even more.

Although Invaders attempts to portray the aliens in a haunting and ominous light, instead they just come across as silly and campy. When the movie needs to give us scares, it prompts unintentional laughs instead.

Admittedly, Invaders isn’t alone in that regard, as most of its era peers also suffer from similarly goofy material. Nonetheless, the cheese of the Martian segments damages any potential thrills.

I do think Invaders works for a while, and I respect its influence. Plenty of kids who saw it in the 1950s went on to good careers in film.

From the vantage point of 2023, though, the movie just doesn’t work – not after that solid first act, at least. While I’ve seen many worse 1950s genre films, this one nonetheless comes with too many flaws.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Invaders from Mars appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Oh my – what a difficult presentation to grade!

As detailed in this release’s supplements, those involved with the scan struggled to find superior elements. As a result, the 4K offered a mish-mash of sources and quality that jumped all over the place.

Why did this mean I found it hard to rate the image? Because while I believe those behind it worked really hard to give us the best presentation possible, the end result still felt iffy and erratic.

At times, Invaders could look quite good. At its best, we found appealing delineation and a solidly “film-like” texture.

However, due to issues with the source as well as various visual/cinematic effects, Invaders could seem pretty soft and loose at times. Definition usually seemed fine but these lapses occurred on a moderately frequent basis.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent and grain seemed natural, albeit on the heavy side.

Some “grain management” was used at times, but this seemed sparing and was done to keep elements consistent. As noted, the image used some less-than-stellar sources so a little grain reduction helped keep these moments from sticking out too badly.

Colors varied. At times, the hues seemed rich and full, but other scenes could appear faded and flat. At least HDR gave the tones added heft at times.

Similarly, blacks sometimes looked deep and dense but other times felt dull, and shadows demonstrated erratic clarity as well. Like with the colors, HDR brought some oomph to blacks, whites and contrast but this didn’t impact the image on a consistent basis.

Given all the work put into this presentation, I’d like to give it an “A” for effort. However, the resulting image looked too erratic for me to award anything above a “B-“, even though I suspect the movie’s never looked better on home video.

Expect more consistent material from the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack. Though it came with the limitations of its era, the audio held up just fine.

Speech seemed a bit thin but nonetheless remained easily intelligible and came without prominent edginess or brittleness. Music lacked great range but showed solid clarity.

The same went for the movie’s effects. Though those didn’t bring much impact, they also didn’t suffer from obvious distortion or other concerns. This felt like a more than adequate soundtrack for a movie from 1953.

A few extras appear, and we get four featurettes, The Architect of Dreams goes for 16 minutes, 26 seconds and includes notes from biographer James Curtis and filmmaker William Cameron Menzies’ granddaughter Pamela Lauesen.

“Dreams” looks at the life and career of Invaders director Menzies. This turns into an involving discussion, especially when we learn of the innovations Menzies brought to films.

Jimmy Hunt Saves the Planet lasts 10 minutes, 30 seconds. Unsurprisingly, it brings a chat with actor Hunt.

He discusses his experiences on Invaders. Expect a few decent memories but not a lot of real insight.

Next comes Terror from Above. It goes for 22 minutes, 24 seconds and involves preservationist Scott MacQueen and filmmakers Joe Dante, Mark Goldblatt, Robert Skotak and John Landis.

“Terror” examines the participants’ childhood experiences with the film as well as appreciation/criticism of the movie, production notes, the flick’s 1980s remake and its legacy. We get a fine take on these subjects.

Restoring the Invasion spans six minutes, five seconds and features MacQueenas he leads us through a visual demonstration of the work to bring an appealing version of the movie to 4K. This turns into a solid summary of the challenges.

After this we get a TCM Festival Intro. It runs seven minutes, five seconds.

Filmmaker John Sayles discusses how the movie impacted kids of his generation as well as notes about Menzies and related elements. We get much of this elsewhere but Sayles nonetheless offers a painless intro.

Two sequences specifically shot for other markets appear next via “European Observatory Sequence” (8:51) and “European Ending” (2:52). Both seem clumsy and wouldn’t integrate well with the rest of the movie, but they offer an intriguing addition to the package.

In addition to both 1953 and 2022 trailers, the disc finishes with an Image Gallery. It includes 37 shots that mix ads and publicity photos.

Finally, the package includes a booklet. Along with photos, it provides an essay from Scott MacQueen that looks at production notes and issues related to the movie’s restoration. It gives us a good overview.

Influential in its day, parts of Invaders from Mars still work 70 years later. However, the movie comes with too much filler and turns cheesy in its third act. The Blu-ray offers erratic visuals – though the best that could be expected – along with appropriate audio and a reasonable mix of supplements. Invaders offers a prime example of 1950s sci-fi, for better and for worse.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
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