Invaders From Mars | Chicago Reader

Invaders From Mars

Of all the movies that could be remade, William Cameron Menzies's cult film of 1953, about a little boy who witnesses the alien takeover of his town, seems about the least promising: there isn't a filmmaker alive capable of recapturing the absolute innocence of this Freudian sexual fable for children. Having made the mad mistake of selecting the project, screenwriters Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby and director Tobe Hooper seem utterly baffled by it; they hesitate between camping it up (and thus destroying a film for which they have an obvious affection) and trying to recapture Menzies's sublimely naive presentation (which, 80s hipsters that they are, they can't sustain for long). They do make a stab at setting up the child's point of view that's central to Menzies's conception, but the effort crumbles in the face of the screaming obnoxiousness of young Hunter Carson, who, away from the Wenders-land of Paris, Texas, turns out indeed to be his mother's son (mom is Karen Black, present in an eye-popping supporting roll). Meanwhile, the film's few visual coups (a re-creation of Menzies's audaciously stylized “over the hill” set; a couple of imaginatively designed aliens) are reduced to needless shoddiness by Hooper's bland, televisual gaze. With Timothy Bottoms and Laraine Newman.


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