My Favorite Martian…Movies

Invaders From Mars

Quick, now: What planet in our solar system has had the most movies made about it? Okay, obviously the answer is Earth. Coming in a distant second–but still considerably ahead of the other six (sorry, Pluto, you don’t count anymore)–is our cosmic neighbor, Mars. Beginning with the 1910 fantasy A Trip to Mars from Thomas Edison’s studio, the red planet has been featured in various ways in nearly 200 feature films and short subjects. It’s been visited by everyone from Buster Crabbe (Mars Attacks the World) and Lloyd Bridges (Rocketship X-M) to Tim Robbins (Mission to Mars) and Pam Grier (Ghosts of Mars), and by such cartoon characters as Koko the Clown, Popeye, Woody Woodpecker and Bugs Bunny. Meanwhile, a galaxy of actors–among them Leonard Nimoy (Zombies of the Stratosphere), Hazel Court (Devil Girl from Mars), Tommy Kirk (Mars Needs Women) and Christopher Lloyd (replacing TV’s Ray Walston in My Favorite Martian)–has played Martians who come to Earth for reasons peaceful or sinister. With this week’s release of Disney’s CGI sci-fi/comedy Mars Needs Moms, it seemed like a good time to look at my choices for the five best, five worst and five oddest cinematic depictions of life on and off Mars.

THE GOOD:

Invaders from Mars (1953) – Dubbed “a nightmarish answer to The Wizard of Oz!” for reasons I won’t spoil by divulging here, this B-studio gem starred Jimmy Hunt as a young boy who tells his disbelieving parents that he saw a spaceship crash into a sandpit behind their home, then must flee from his folks and the police when they’re taken over by the invading aliens (tiny antennae on the backs of their necks are the telltale clue). It’s up to Hunt, doctor Helena Carter, and astronomer Arthur Franz to learn what the Martians’ plans are and get help from the military. Director/production designer William Cameron Menzies’ Impressionistic sets–often filmed at a child’s-eye perspective–add to the eerily off-putting quality of this cult favorite thriller, which also featured some nifty Martian monsters, from the silent, bug-eyed mutants to their tentacled, glass globe-enclosed “head man.”

The War of the Worlds (1953) – Producer George Pal’s Cold War-flavored updating of  H.G. Wells’ seminal sci-fi novel is still considered one of the great genre outings. Oscar-winning special effects depict the Martians’ magnetically levitating warships in action as they devastate locales across the globe, leads Gene Barry and Ann Robinson are fine as scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester and love interest Sylvia Van Buren, and the shots of disintegrated bodies from the Martians’ “heat ray” and the tantalizing glimpses of the squat, “one-eyed” aliens were scary to many a young viewer. Still, it was a shame that Pal couldn’t use the giant walking tripods described in the book (more on this to come).

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) – Taking the basic elements of Daniel Defoe’s 18th-century adventure yarn and moving them to 20th-century outer space may have sounded like a risky venture, but this indie picture (directed by Byron Haskin, who also helmed War of the Worlds) managed to effectively combine the two. Paul Mantee is the title Earth astronaut who survives a crash landing on the red planet (shipmate Adam West, pre-Batman, isn’t so lucky) and learns to fend for himself in the hostile environment (yes, there are explanations for his air, food and water). Mantee’s Crusoe finds his Man Friday when he rescues a humanoid alien (Victor Lundin) from “spacemen from the constellation Orion” who use slave labor to mine the planet’s surface. Oh, and Mantee’s other companion is a woolly monkey named Mona.

The Martian Chronicles (1980) – By and large, the writings of sci-fi/fantasy icon Rad Bradbury have not been particularly well served on the big screen (as in the case of François Truffaut’s sterile 1966 adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, 1968′s The Illustrated Man with Rod Steiger, or Peter Hyams’ 2005 mangling of A Sound of Thunder).  Television, strangely enough, better handled the author’s work twice: in the 1985-92 cable series The Ray Bradbury Theater, and with this 1980 NBC mini-series. Several of Bradbury’s tales–”Ylla,” “Mars Is Heaven,” “The Long Years” and “The Million-Year Picnic” among them–from his interlinked 1950 short story collection were woven together by veteran The Twilight Zone scribe Richard Matheson into three parts: “The Expeditions,” “The Settlers” and “The Martians.” Bringing the trilogy to life was a cast that included Bernie Casey, Rock Hudson, Roddy MacDowall, Darrin McGavin, Bernadette Peters and Fritz Weaver. The on-screen look of the planet’s surface and environment stayed faithful to the book’s fanciful and not-particularly scientifically accurate (even by ’50s standards) depictions, and while each episode tends to sag under the sheer weight of its multiple storylines (Bradbury himself called the mini-series “just boring”), it nonetheless works as both science fiction and drama.

Total Recall (1990) – Okay, so it’s not exactly on a par with its source novelette, Philip K. Dick’s We Can Remember it for You Wholesale. Director Paul Verhoeven’s hyper-violent futuristic thriller, in which construction worker Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes convinced his life is a series of false memories and that his true identity is somehow linked to an Earth colony on the planet Mars, is an enjoyable romp that features an estimated body count of 77, some vintage Arnold witticisms, a fight between Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin, and some patented corporate villainy from Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside. For this list, however, the key component is the wonderful subterranean Martian sets, complete with robot taxis, giant air delivery systems and mutated workers.

THE BAD:

Robot Monster (1953) – To be fair, this film may not really qualify for my roll call, since it’s only the alternate title Monster from Mars that mentions the planet (the title villain refers to his home world as “Ro-Man”). Still, director Phil Tucker’s low-budget sci-fi turkey needs a shout-out if only for having one of the most ludicrous-looking aliens in screen history: a gorilla suit topped by a spaceman helmet.

The Wizard of Mars (1964) – So, remember what I said earlier about how taking the themes of Robinson Crusoe and moving them to Mars made for a fairly entertaining movie experience? Well, that wasn’t the case here. In case you haven’t guessed from the title (or if you saw this film under its aliases Alien Massacre or Horrors of the Red Planet), The Wizard of Mars is indeed an outer space rendition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as a scientific expedition from Earth consisting of three guys and a gal named Dorothy crash lands on the red planet. With food and air supplies in jeopardy, the foursome finds a golden road that leads them to a city and its dormant inhabitants. The Martians, whose group consciousness takes the form of the giant disembodied head of John Carradine, enlists the astronauts’ aid in helping free them from some sort of “temporal captivity.” I don’t want to give away the twist ending, but if you’ve ever seen a certain 1939 musical with Judy Garland, you can probably guess what it is.

Invaders from Mars (1986) – Whatever charms were found in Menzies’ 1953 fantasy were lost in this 1986 remake from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper. While it holds closely–perhaps too much so–to the storyline of  the original, a bigger budget didn’t improve on the effects or the aliens (the Martian leader bears a striking resemblance to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bad guy Krang), and a cast that included Karen Black, Timothy Bottoms, Louise Fletcher, Laraine Newman, and child “star” Hunter Carlson either underplays or hams up their roles. In one of the film’s sole pluses, ’50s Invaders juvenile lead Jimmy Hunt makes an appearance as the police chief.

Mars Attacks! (1996) – While it may be the best movie ever based on a series of bubblegum cards (apologies to The Garbage Pail Kids Movie) and did feature some great CGI-created Martians (“Ack, ack ack ack!”), Tim Burton’s cheerily goofy  ’50s space film satire is still an over-bloated mess that depends too much on some unfunny star turns (did we need two Jack Nicholsons or even one Martin Short or Danny DeVito?) and a “secret-weapon-to-save-the-day” gimmick that was lifted without so much as a by-your-leave from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Tom Jones was, however, very effective playing Tom Jones, and any film that features Sarah Jessica Parker’s head transplanted on her pet chihuahua’s body can’t be all bad.

War of the Worlds (2005) – When mega-director Steven Spielberg decided he was going to take a crack at filming the Wells story for 21st-century audiences, fans assumed he would overload it with his trademark touches: an adult trying to connect with children in their care, kids with “daddy issues,” people standing in the midst of chaos and screaming for no good reason, and the like. Sadly, that’s just what came to pass, and Wells’ solitary English protagonist morphed into divorced New Jersey dockworker Tom Cruise, schlepping offspring Dustin Chatwin and Dakota Fanning across the apocalyptic landscape to ex-wife Miranda Otto in Boston. What’s more, the aliens in the film apparently aren’t actual Martians, but extraterrestrials from some unknown world who have been lying in wait deep below the Earth’s surface for millions of years. What, Steven, you think moviegoers will accept alien invaders, but not ones from Mars? Oh, well, at least this version did have the kick-ass tripods that special effects crews circa 1953 couldn’t have achieved.

THE STRANGE:

Red Planet Mars (1952) – The key word here is “Red.” Many sci-fi pictures from the Cold War period dealt with subtle, and often not-so-subtle, anti-Communist themes, but few tackled the subject with such (literally) evangelical vigor as this B-studio opus. Husband-wife scientists Peter Graves and Andrea King  receive radio transmissions that appear to be from a Utopian society living on Mars. The alien broadcasts cause a panic in American business markets, but when they take on religious–Christian, of course–tones (“It’s the Sermon on the Mount…from Mars,” says King), the resultant global fervor leads to revolutions behind the Iron Curtain and the establishment of a Russian Orthodox theocracy, complete with a patriarch who looks a little like the Ayatollah Khomeini. So, are the Martian messages really from the Almighty?  I’m not saying.

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953) – The title for this Space Age comedy starring Universal’s famed funnymen sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? There’s just one problem; Abbott and Costello don’t go to Mars in the movie! Oh, sure, Bud and Lou wind up in an experimental rocket that’s supposed to travel to Mars, only they land first in New Orleans, then on a Venus populated solely by beautiful women. Why not just call the furshlugginer picture Abbott and Costello Go to Venus? One letter too many for the marquee?

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) – Baby Boomers will “fondly” recall this unfunny holiday Saturday matinee staple in which Kris Kringle is abducted from his North Pole toy factory by green leotard-clad Martians, who bring him to their planet so that their chronically depressed children (among them a young Pia Zadora) can have Christmas presents and learn the joys of consumerism just like Earth boys and girls. Movie FanFare’s resident specialist in off-the-wall cinema, Dr. Strangefilm, offered up his diagnosis of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians here.

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965) – Like the earlier Robot Monster, this interplanetary atrocity merely mentions the red planet in its alternate title (which is–no kidding–Mars Invades Puerto Rico). And like Robot Monster, nowhere in the film do villains Princess Marcuzan (Marilyn Hanold, made up to resemble Liz Taylor in Cleopatra) and her bald-pated chief scientist Dr. Nadir (Lou Cutell) identify themselves as actually being from Mars. They’re simply from an war-ravaged alien world and have come to America’s Caribbean playground in search of, as the princess puts it, “breeding stock.”  This, of course, entails spacesuit-clad henchmen using Whammo Air-Blasters (also seen in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians) to abduct bikini-clad babes right off the beach. The Frankenstein in the title is a NASA android whose artificial features are scarred by the invaders and who battles them and their lizard/bat/newt Space Monster. As if the bad effects, hammy acting and beach beauties didn’t already add up to a bizarre experience, the heroic NASA scientist who gets the girl at the end is none other than B-movie stalwart and beloved Pathmark supermarkets spokesman James Karen.

The Night That Panicked America (1975) – This is perhaps the strangest Martian invasion movie ever made…if for no other reason, than because there are no Martians in it. This acclaimed made-for-TV drama actually recounted the 1938 Halloween radio broadcast by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater players of an adaptation of War of the Worlds, set in contemporary New Jersey and New York. Because many people missed the introductory explanation that it was a radio play, thousands across the country were convinced that Martians had actually landed and were taking over the country. A great examination of America’s pre-WWII apprehensions, the film starred Tom Bosley, Will Geer, Vic Morrow, John Ritter, and Paul Shenar as the young Welles.

NOTE: This article merely scratches the surface of fourth-planet film fare. More a more comprehensive (Martian) chronicle, be sure to check out the Mars Society website’s list.

  • Luigi From NYC

    03-09-11

    Re: Martian Movies –

    What about the flick — RocketShip XM –

    A great flick for its time –

  • Jack West

    Luigi read it again slowly, he does mention RocketShip XM. A bad one that became a cult favorite is The Angry Red Planet made by AIP and having a neet monster, The spider-legged bat creature.

  • Sci-Fi Fan.

    It’s amazing how some film critics can be so stunningly wrong. Case in point: Steven Spielberg’s version of “The War Of The Worlds.” The special effects are certainly brilliant, but more than that, it’s a genuinely suspenseful, eerie, and often scary film. All of which was Spielberg’s intent when he made the film. Since he succeeded in everything he set out to achieve, exactly how can you dismiss his version of “The War Of The Worlds?” But, I have a confession to make. I’m actually very familiar with horrible, ugly, and frightening Martians. I grew up with two of them. My parents told me that the Martians were in fact my two sisters, but I knew better! You’d understand if you ever met them. They’re definitely from the red planet Mars!

  • bubba sawyer

    I liked Mars Attacks. It’s better than most sci-fi movies i feel, and is humourous, which is nice.

  • old_man

    I love sci-fi classics from the 50′s…serious or campy. Of course, the ones the author raved about, I believe I own them. I am so glad there is the DVD market! I just happen to catch Robot Monster on some obscure local channel…horrible…I could only watch the first 20mins…I think as they were going to have a picnic at the mouth of the cave. I couldnt go with the story anymore. I have not seen Red Planet Mars in while…and I am surprised the author didnt go into that one, rather than Total Recall!

  • Luigi From NYC

    03-11-11

    TO Jack West FR Luigi

    Thanks for the correction –
    I read the article Too Quickly –

    As a point of info –

    My favorite is TOTAL RECALL

    And still love watching ROCKETSHIP X-M
    Ditto = RED PLANET MARS
    Great Mars-Sci-Fi for that ERA !

  • vickie

    What about the original The Day The Earth Stood Still?

    • grammarzoid

      The thread is about movies about MARS. Get it? Apparently not.

  • Andre Villemaire

    The Angry red planet is still good after all those years…Even Robinsoe Crusoe on Mars which
    is quite a classic…but i really want to say
    the the War of the Worlds with tom Cruise is still as bad as when i saw it…Great stuff messed up by continuous screaming Dakota Fanning
    and other stupid little things that gathered and
    kinda wrecked this film… I can only watch it
    by fast fowarding here and there.
    War of the worlds the 50′s version still hold
    and gets better everytime i watch it.

  • JH West

    I think the 1953 War of the Worlds was the best, followed by Mars, the Angry Red Planet (because my mother wouldn’t let me go to that one at the local theatre).

  • Designer

    Can’t agree more with comments about Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds”. Great SFX, no doubt about that. But the kids? They are so annoying that only the FF button makes the film watchable. Is it conceivable that any kids, faced with an alien invasion right in their faces would still continue to whine about their father? That part is so stupid that it’s hard to get past it.

    Another version of the Wells story that sticks to the book very, very closely, is a British version probably made for the BBC. Set in England in the correct era it’s probably the best version if you liked the book.

    P.S. Loved “Mars Attacks” especially the part where the cliche about the poor kid from the trailer park makes a patriotic gesture and goes up against the invaders. In the classic version that we’ve seen in so many war movies, he somehow prevails and you groan because it’s such a cliche. In “Mars Attacks” he’s vaporized and the cliche is broken. Great touch.

  • Gerry Williams

    Great article overall, but with a handful of comments:

    Spielberg & Cruise’s WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) film shouldn’t be on this list — there is absolutely nothing about Mars in this film, especially the “invaders”.

    Technically ROBOT MONSTER (1953) shouldn’t be here, either. It was just a working title for this film, MONSTER FROM MARS, that gets the film a place on the MarsMovieGuide.com.

    THE CONQUEST OF SPACE (1955) is one of the amazing yet often overlooked of the 1950s classic films. Same with FLIGHT TO MARS (1951), which was shot in only 5 days!

    And for pure cheese, THE DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS (1954) and IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958) round out the “classics”.

    And thank you for posting a link to the MarsMovieGuide.com.

  • Louis Martinez

    Steven Spielberg’s version of “The War Of The Worlds” would be a pile of crap without the special effects. Tom Cruise was a joke in this movie and Dakota Fanning was just asking for someone to put a foot in her ass and make her shut up. I paid good money to see it and all I can say is I wish they hadn’t put so much vaseline in the sand. That hurt to watch…….

  • Luigi From NYC

    03-15-11

    i agree re: original WAR OF THE WORLDS = STILL the BEST !

    i agree with Louis Martinez 100% re: Speilberg’s version –
    i say = Poor Script // Wretched Cast // Only FAIR Speilberg !

  • uncle gibby

    “Mars Attacks!!!” while entertaining would have been much better if they stuck to the Topps story line and made it horrific (not comedic). There was soooo… much potential there.
    The remake of “Invaders of Mars” may be one of the WORST movies ever made. Too bad they played it for laughs as well. The original (1953) made the most with the limited film technology of the times. I’m sure there are people in their 60s (today) that still shudder when they pass a sand dune.
    The “War of the Worlds” remake was an honest attempt to pay homage to the 50s classic. I was especially thrilled to see the grandparents at the end of the film. I think the reason it fell a bit short is that UFOs and space are no longer topical. Look at the space program and the nation’s attitude towards space in general, as compared to the 50s and 60s. I blame computer games on that (just kidding…).
    Finally, I realize “The Day the Earth Stood Still” doesn’t relate to Martians BUT it does relate to remakes and I’m on a rant.
    The original is a sci-fi classic and the remake could have been one as well, except for three small details.
    1. You should have stuck to the original story.
    2. Your “Gort” was incredible until you turned it into an
    acronym and made it a virus/pestilence. The huge
    robot/policeman could have been far more
    impressive and the fans would have loved it. Think o
    the marketing potential.
    3. Why Jayden Smith??? Was it a sociological statement
    or did Will hold a “marker” on the producers? They
    pushed that kid way too fast and he was not up to
    task in this film. Billy Gray’s performance in 1951 was
    naturally sappy and it worked. Jayden’s performance
    was “contrived” sappy (and whiney) and the social
    statement didn’t work in this case.
    Sorry, but like I said, I’m on a “rant” and I needed to vent.

  • Salvatore R LaRosa

    War of the Worlds the original. Then Earth vs The Flying Saucers.

  • Sci-Fi Fan.

    Of course, you’re all absolutely wrong about Spielberg’s version of “The War Of The Worlds.” As I said, it’s genuinely scary and suspenseful. About this fact there really is no SERIOUS debate. As for the original version, it’s still a great film despite the plainly visible wires supporting the war machines. But is anyone aware of Asylum’s direct to DVD version of “The War Of The Worlds?” It came out about five years ago. It’s a low budget film with slightly overwrought dialogue, but overall, it’s reasonably effective with quite decent special effects. And in fact, it did well enough to spawn a sequel call “War Of The Worlds: Second Wave.” Unfortunately, the sequel isn’t nearly as good as the first film from Asylum.

  • Bob VanDerClock

    You just couldn’t get any worse than “Robot Monster/Monster from Mars”….where an unafraid kid says to the diving helmet-gorilla man “you look like a pooped-out pinwheel”.(!!?)…with a budget of bubble gum and a dime. I and my family always rated this, plus Macabre and Plan 9 From Outer Space as movie history’s worst ever garbage…!

  • Bob VanDerClock

    The original Invaders From Mars was one of the GREAT ones…..I first saw it when I was 15 and shuddered like I was a little tyke!It was only recently, seeing it in color, that i spotted the slits on the back of the outfits worn by the big aliens but no matter…near perfect paranoia-gender film making with limited F/X. The ridiculously bad Tobe Hooper 1986 remake didn’t work at all for me.. betcha the all star cast knew it too..about the only redeeming feature was that some of the malarkey went on in the basement of “William Cameron Menzies High School”..a paean to the director of the 1953 original.

  • Jim

    The only thing scary about the remake of War of the Worlds is the third grade level script aimed at the contemporary adult. Movies used to be pitched to adults with an eighth grade education.

    • Tars Tarkus

      The Spielberg version or remake of the H.G. Wells Book is more of an re-interpretation and updating of the classic tale of an alien invasion. It is of an interesting note that before September 11, 2001, there was very little scientific study on the psychological effects that such a devastating attack on this nation would impact on the human psyche. There had been basic, primitive scholastic studies conducted in the 1930′s after the Orson Wells Radio Broadcast depiction of a Martian Invasion. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, more intensive studies were conducted and during the height of the U.F.O. scare of the 1950′s, the Brookings Institute conducted secret studies for the U.S. Government as to what the public’s reaction would be if it were revealed that Alien Spaceships had control of our airspace. The conclusion was: “Uncontrolled Panic and Social and Economic Collapse would result if the truth were to be revealed.” Until 09-11-01, America’s homeland had never been attacked on such a scale as it had been on that fateful day. Now, there was documented scientific evidence as to how the human psyche would react. Mr. Spielberg used much of this data in his re-imagining of how such an invasion would unfold and how the panicked masses would react. There were scenes of people staggering around in shock, other’s in denial and disbelief. Horror was evident on the faces of those who managed to escape from the murderous tripod war machines. Human minds could not comprehend of a weapon (death ray) so powerful and consuming that all that was left of a person were the tattered remains of his clothing! There were scenes of hundreds of dead and decaying bodies floating in the rivers that turned red with blood. Long stretches of fences and buildings were posted with pictures of missing people and relatives. There were long lines of shell-shocked people toting what belongings they could carry on their backs. Images of modern day refugees trying to escape with no place to go. Corps-filled commuter trains speeding by ablaze on tracks of death! The military helpless to stop this seemingly invincible conqueror. Terrifying images meant to be seared into the viewer’s conscience, a recollection of the emotional trauma that all American’s experienced on that ill-fated September morning. A day which began like any other morning. Almost like the way the H.G. Well’s story begins!!!
      I came out of the theatre feeling sick, my stomach tied-up in knots! I was disappointed that both Gene Berry and Anne Robinson had no speaking lines in the new version. I was hoping that it would be revealed that Tom Cruise’s character was Dr. Forrester’s and Sylvia Van Buran’s son! I was hoping that Mr. Barry would have a larger role than just one scene. My mind kept thinking about the events portrayed in the new version and identifying them with the real events which transpired on 09-11-01. As a child, my father had introduced me to the world of science fiction when he took me to see “The Conquest of Space” in 1954, at our neighborhood theatre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. From that time on, I was hooked on the world of tomorrow. In 1959, I got to meet it’s star, Eric Fleming in 1959. Anyway, the more I thought about the Spielberg version and compared it to the 1953 George Pal version, I recognized the merits that both films possessed. I thought to myself, “What a fantastic film it would make if both the 1953 and 2005 version were edited together into one epic!” Of course you’d have to update the visual effects of the Pal film to match the effects of the 2005 version. But what a whale-of-a-tale you’d have! When the 2005 film became available on DVD, I did just that. I edited both the 1953 Pal version and the 2005 Spielberg version together. There were some continunity problems but I managed to smooth them out. It makes for a rather hair-raising revelation at what such an invasion by an alien race might be like. Of course, all that one has to do now-days is watch an episode of the Science Channel or the History Channel and the viewer is shown any number of different and imaginative ways that an Alien Civilization could take over our world, eliminate the vermin (humans) without damaging the Earth’s fragile eco-system and take-up homesteading like we did in the old west.
      For the record, in my opinion, the 1953 George Pal version of the “War of the Worlds” starring Gene Barry as Dr. Clayton Forrester, is the superior picture and better made version. Its entertaining, thought-provoking and imaginative!
      With all the persistent reports of U.F.O.’s and Alien Abductions and events of Missing Time on the increase and leaks of government documents such as the Majestic-12 papers and The Eisenhower Briefing Papers, as well as the release of all of Great Britian’s U.F.O. Files and The KGB/U.F.O. Papers, The SHAPE Report, The Serpo Papers, etc. We may yet live to experience a real Alien Invasion!

  • M. L. Wirick

    I hated the re-make of War of the Worlds. I watched that whole rotten mess with Tom Cruise to see Gene Barry and Ann Robinsons’ cameo just to find out they were on screen less than 2 seconds before they cut back to Mr. Wonderful. Never Again.

  • ekim smada

    In 1953 I was eight years old. I remember going to the movies with my older brother and being really scared watching “Invaders From Mars”. The sand pit really got to me. I don’t remember any thing like a rating system for age back then. I guess I was probably to young for that film. I guess that’s why I am the way I am today…thanks Bro!

  • Andrew

    “Invaders from Mars” and “War of the Worlds” both from 1953 are my favorites. A really bad
    Sci-fi was “Teenagers from Outer Space” where the
    monster was the shadow of a giant lobster.

    • Moosejaw

      Oh but the treatment mst3k gave to TFOS was perfect. I’m still ticked off they had to skeletonize the dog.

  • Daisy

    I don’t know…Mars is such an unbelievable setting for any movie that it is hard to take them seriously. That’s why the comedies work out the best. Same with the Moon and most of our other planets. That’s why civilizations from distant star systems or even galaxies have become the most popular settings for modern science fiction.

  • David in LA

    A couple of other entries: The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1962), I like this one, it plays like a long Twilight Zone episode. The Martians come to Earth via the transmissions from a Mars-rover like craft, they were invisible but were able to create duplicate bodies of the principle characters. Another one, which would end up on the bad list would be Mission Mars (1968), starring Darren McGavin and Nick Adams. I thought this was pretty scary when I saw it as a kid, but it really suffered from a low budget. A Filmfax article mentioned that this movie suffered a setback when a storm destroyed some of the sets during prodution.

    As for Speilberg’e stupid, meaningless, remake of War of the Worlds, the only redeeming value were the brief cameo appearances of Gene Barry and Anne Robinson who starred in the classic 1953 film. Yes, the visual effects were fine, but the rest of the film just shows how some people will pay to see dreck these days.

  • robert pezzullo

    MY FAVORITE IS A CLASSIC WAR OF THE WORLDS WITH WITH GENE BARRY FOR AS MUCH AS THE MARTIANS WERE HELL BENT ON DESTROYING US THEY WOULD UP KILLING THEMSELVES BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T ADAPT TO OUR TYPE OF ATMOSPHERE.THE AIR ON PLANET EARTH FOR WHICH THEY COULDN’T BREATH WOUND UP KILLING THEM.IT WILL ALWAYS BE A NUMBER ONE CLASSIC MARTIAN MOVIE.

  • Steve Rothstein

    The Angry Red Planet – from 1959. I was only 9 years old and this movie really was scary – especially the Bat Rat creature.
    Today you can see that the special effects are really cheesy , but they were scary for a 9 year old.
    Invaders from Mars – 1953. What a great movie, even today. The collapsing sand dunes with that eerie music in the background. And the Head in the bowl – the Leader – always creeped me out

  • Dave W

    The Angry Red Planet… great ray gun! And jelly monster with the spinning eye… cool

  • Doriano Pulpito

    Dear friends
    here is doriano from Brasil
    In my opinion there are 2 kinds of Sci-Fic movies:
    Earth Vs Flying Saucers and all the others the best of all times.

  • williamsommerwerck

    I’ve seen all but two or three of these films. None of them is particularly good. * The 1953 “War of the Worlds” is an “acceptable” adaptation of Well’s superior novel. (Even the Classic Comics version is better.) The Spielberg version is… well… annoying.

    * “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” deserves respect for making a stab at scientific plausibility.

  • Mike48128

    War of the Worlds by George Pal. However, my opinion has dropped somewhat now that I can see the “puppet-wires” in the DVD version. Total Recall a distant 2nd. Menzie’s Invader from Mars is third, due to the very cheap sets. John Carter remains-to-be-seen. It might top them all!

  • judycwrite

    Oh yeah, War of the Worlds (original) Earth vs the Flying Saucers, Invaders from Mars are all the staples. Funny story, in the 60′s they played War of the Worlds on Saturday Night at the Movies (remember that?). When it was over I went out for a walk at night. In my neighborhood I saw this huge fireball the size of a house streaking across the sky! Freaked out I ran home telling my parents who promptly poo-poo’d me and went to bed. I got no sleep that night waiting for the Martians to crawl out of their meteorite/ship. Happily my mother found a little story in the newspaper about people being alarmed by a “Taurus” satellite crashing back to earth as a fireball! See? It was real, but really, really BAD timing!!!
    I will add This Island Earth (although technically not Mars but ‘Metaluna’), Robinson Crusoe on Mars and Martian Chronicles. Space was always a major interest when I was a kid!

  • Moosejaw

    War of the Worlds with gene Barry #1
    Invaders from mars (50s)and Mars Attacks tie for #2
    The new War of the Worlds with Tom Cruz was unnecessary as a better WOTW came out only a few years earlier. That being Independance Day, though not about mars it was HG Wells story even down to the virus killing the creatures (albiet a computer virus).