BASEMENT BLU-RAY REVIEW: Invaders from Mars (1953) by Ignite Films

Though there are a lot of negative aspects of Facebook, one thing I do like on there is announcements of new movie releases. When I heard that one of my favorite science fiction movies of the 50s, INVADERS FROM MARS, was coming out on 4K Blu-ray, I was very excited. Up until now, I had only seen the very lackluster DVD version put out by UAV Entertainment, in 1996. This edition features the Wade Williams cut, featuring the addition of a lot of military stock footage. This release is a great way to celebrate the film’s 70th anniversary.

INVADERS FROM MARS is no stranger to my site and I am happy to talk about it yet again. I am so grateful for Ignite Films taking on this project, and I will be discussing not only the movie itself, but the extras and packaging as well.

Included with this set is a 20-page booklet called “Invaders from Mars: A Nightmare of Restoration.” The book details the work that went into not only making the film originally, but what it took to restore this classic film. One problem encountered was that additional scenes had to be filmed, after the movie was in the theatres, to satisfy the overseas market. They were not fans on the dream-ending and wanted the film longer. Multiple 35 mm prints of the film were used in combination to create the final version in this release. Since none of the prints were 100%, scenes from all prints were edited together and then the color was restored. All of the extra work put into this project, cited in much more detail in the booklet, justifies the higher than usual retail price of this Blu-ray release.

INVADERS FROM MARS, the movie, has never looked better. I forgot that it was in the 1:37:1 aspect ratio. Though I would have loved to have seen it in widescreen, the boxed in feel of the movie just adds to David’s feeling of isolation. In the early 50s, not all movies were filmed in widescreen. The colors here are reach, and more naturalistic in appearance. This version is by no way crystal clear despite the 4K upgrade. Scott MacQueen, who headed the restoration process, absolutely did the best he could with what source material he had.

Purple People Easters from Australia. GEM print with poor contrast, contaminated colors. 

Eastmancolor camera negative.

The restored trailer also looks amazing. It is as clear as the full movie and it is nice to see it in a non-faded version full of scratches. Though a new trailer was commissioned, nothing beats the original. The before and after clips of restoration, featuring Scott MacQueen, is fascinating. It really shows you how bad the source material was and how much work needed to be done.

Original Cinecolor print. Mommy’s looking jaundiced and the wall is turning violet.

Restored version.

The restored segments of the 2K alternate international version is interesting. As mentioned about, audiences overseas did not like the dream-ending so new footage had to be shot. This footage was shot a year later, and actor Jimmy Hunt (David McLean) visibly has a different hair style and looks older. Not only that, but his voice has also actually gotten deeper. The extended planetarium scenes that were shot were done on a tight, makeshift set. This was also done in the final scene of the international version showing just the doorway of David’s bedroom.

The extras are really well done. Seeing Jimmy Hunt talk about what it was like working on this film is definitely one of the highlights. This documentary is called “Jimmy Hunt Saves the Planet.” There are also fun interviews with directors such as Joe Dante and John Landis, both influenced by INVADERS FROM MARS.

This movie is great in so many ways. The fact that it is done from a child’s perspective is something rarely attempted. Shots filmed low, from David’s perspective, looking at oversized sets, add to the creepiness of the story. There were so many science fiction movies released in the 1950s but only a handful have stood the test of time. INVADERS FROM MARS did just that!

I hope you enjoyed this review. Don’t forget to read the other blogs in my BASEMENT BLU-RAY REVIEW series.

~David Albaugh

About Author

Leave a Reply