Horror Blu-Ray Reviews, News, & Experiments!

Invaders from Mars Blu-Ray Review

Blu-Ray Review- Invaders from Mars

Distributor: Scream Factory

Street Date: April 7th 2015

Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, Color, 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Invaders from Mars (Scream Factory)

Invaders from Mars (Scream Factory)

The Film:

Being an uber-fan of all things science fiction, mars-related, and of B-movie camp value, it’s an absolute wonder that I don’t find Tobe Hooper’s 1986 remake of Invaders from Mars very enjoyable. It’s the kind of film where all the right elements are in place…but it never quite gels to offer anything substantial in the end. The intentions of the filmmakers are curious, as if they’re constantly jumping back and forth between the lines of serious science fiction, parody, and goofy children’s theatrics. This may indeed have been the purpose, but nevertheless, their efforts veer more toward an uneven bore than anything worth remembering. I’m not usually so hard on the genre, as my regular readers well know, but coming from the genius of Tobe Hooper I expected more. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, and Lifeforce are easy recommendations from me and each offer up something very unique to the Horror genre. Invaders from Mars on the other hand, alas, does not.

In the film, little David Gardner (Hunter Carson) lives an idyllic childhood. His father, a NASA employee, takes the time to stargaze with him on a nightly basis and his mother is as doting and comforting as Mrs. Cleaver. Yes, everything is wonderful until David witnesses a large alien spacecraft land in the fields behind his house. His parents assure him that this couldn’t possibly have been the case, and that he must have been dreaming. Even so, his Dad assures David that he’ll look into it the next morning.

Sure enough the next morning Dad has investigated the supposed landing, is missing a shoe, and acting more than a little strange. Not only does he have a mysterious wound on the back of his neck, but he also has a sudden craving for piping hot coffee with tic-tac’s and burnt bacon strips. Our young protagonist tries to resume his normal life but David’s Dad soon takes his mother for a stroll into the back fields, and she returns “changed” as well. When his already creepy teacher at school (Louise Fletcher) sports the very same neck wound (not to mention a sudden craving for live frogs), David’s only safety net comes in the form of Linda, the school Nurse (Karen Black, young Carson’s real-life mother). Soon David and Linda are running for their lives from the Martian invasion (while also somehow actively investigating it), and even rack up some muscle with some help from the military. It’s now up to David, Linda, and the US Army to take down the dastardly race of Martians and their master supreme.

Invaders from Mars has its moments, including some very unique Martian designs, a solid score, and fun special effects for the time…but it simply doesn’t click for me like it seems to for so many others (as mentioned above). The acting is uneven, the script and dialogue uninspired, and the movie never quite finds its rhythm. For those that do enjoy it, this brand new Blu-Ray edition from Scream Factory is the way to go.

Video Quality:

I may not be the biggest fan of the film itself, but Scream Factory’s High Definition presentation of Invaders from Mars will surely please those that enjoy the film. The picture is clear and crisp for the most part, with only the occasional scratches. Film grain is natural and authentic, with no digital scrubbing evident. The colors look accurate as well, with nice reproduction and timing, and solid black levels to boot. This is without a doubt the best the film has ever looked on home video!

Audio Quality:

The 5.1 DTS-HD audio track is also another standout aspect of this release. Dialogue comes through clean and clear with only the occasional muffled effect. The action and score are also well represented on all channels, and though it certainly won’t wake the neighbors with its power, the track suits the film well.

Special Features:

Scream Factory has provided fans of Invaders from Mars with an array of bonus features for this Blu-Ray release. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Tobe Hooper: This audio commentary with Tobe Hooper is a great companion piece to The Martians are Coming documentary (discussed directly below), with Tobe running through all things related to the film including the conception of remaking the 50’s classic, pre-production and planning, the actors involved, special effects sequences, etc.
  • The Martians are Coming! The Making of Invaders from Mars– Running over 36 minutes, this fantastic retrospective documentary from Red Shirt Pictures features Director Tobe Hooper, Composer Christopher Young, Hunter Carson (David Gardner), Alec Gillis (special creature effects), and many more talent involved in the making of Invaders from Mars. I can’t imagine a more definitive documentary for fans, who will absolutely appreciate hearing about all the behind-the-scenes interactions among the cast, pre-production planning, the insanely cool creature effects, and so much more. Wonderful stuff!
  • Theatrical Trailer & TV Spot- The original theatrical trailer and a television spot are provided separately here (although under the same bonus prompt), and the pair run nearly 2 minutes.
  • Production Illustration Gallery from Artist William Stout- William Stout, who designed the Martians in the film, provides commentary on over 14 minutes of his original illustrations he created during the production of the film. His approach is fascinating, especially on a relatively low budget film, and the final designs compared to the Martians in the film are very impressive!
  • Storyboards– This bonus gives us over 4 minutes of storyboards from the production of the film. It’s really fun to get an idea of what the filmmakers wanted to accomplish during their planning stages and how accurate the final scenes turned out.
  • Still Gallery– Just over 2 minutes of posters, production stills, and behind-the-scenes photos from Invaders from Mars.

The Packaging:

As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray edition from Scream Factory features the original theatrical poster design for Invaders from Mars. On the reverse of the packaging you’ll find a plot synopsis, a list of special features and technical specifications, as well as select production stills from the film. On the interior of the packaging is the Blu-Ray disc and some fantastic reversible cover art that I wish Scream Factory would have printed for a Collector’s Edition slipcover!

Invaders from Mars (reverse)

Invaders from Mars (reverse)

Invaders from Mars (interior)

Invaders from Mars (interior)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Report:

Being an uber-fan of all things science fiction, mars-related, and of B-movie camp value, it’s an absolute wonder that I don’t find Tobe Hooper’s 1986 remake of Invaders from Mars very enjoyable. It’s the kind of film where all the right elements are in place…but it never quite gels to offer anything substantial in the end. The good news here for fans of the film (and there are plenty of you) is that the video quality is fantastic and the 5.1 DTS-HD audio comes through clean and clear. The special features, notably the incredible documentary The Martians are Coming! from Red Shirt Pictures, are once again the standout aspect of this release. Though it’s not my personal cup-o-Martian-tea, Invaders from Mars still comes recommended for fans!

Yours Truly,

Doctor Macabre

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