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A Response Letter on
from John Mastrocco

Dear Mr. Erickson,

When I was a child aged 9 to 13 (late 50's and early 60's there were two films on television that scared the crap out of me. The first was "IT! The Terror From Beyond Space."

The second was "Invaders From Mars."

I watched both films every time they were broadcast on our local stations and they never failed to make me have nightmares.

I had not seen either film in many years (30? 35?) and when I did recently see them again they had different effects on me.

While IT! retained some of its fear inducing attributes, even with the often cheesy effects and somewhat dated look, IFM had lost most of its luster and seemed very dated. Since I usually enjoy (basically good) films of the 50's nearly as much today as when I first viewed them, which is the case with IT!, I was puzzled by my dissatisfaction with IFM, but dismissed it as just a reaction to a poorly made film that only appealed to a 10 year old boy.

Your article helps explain why I was dissatisfied.

The changes to IFM that you describe would affect my memory of the film, probably negatively, as they do not add to the film but detract from it. But the second half of your article is closer to the reason why my reaction has changed so much.

I had never really thought of it, as I have only seen the film once since the 60's, but considering your words as I read them I realize that the nightmare that David experiences is perfectly shown by the film. IFM really does appeal to the child of the 50's. It is a great reflection of the anxiety, fears, heroic fantasy and repressed sexuality that I was feeling at the time.

Would it appeal on the same level to the children of today? I doubt it. The anxiety and fears today are so different from our generation that there is no common ground. The realism thrust on children today is more intense, more focused than any we experienced. For example, my 13-year-old daughter got a great laugh at the 'duck and cover' sequence in The Iron Giant. So I showed her the film clip of a real D&C school video from the Criterion Dr. Strangelove and she asked "How could anyone believe THAT would protect you from an nuclear bomb?" Yet as a child I never questioned them. Much the same can be said about the nightmare of IFM. It is too surreal, too childish for todays children - if that makes any sense.

I would love to see IFM restored to its original version and watch it with your comments in mind. I believe it would impart a new understanding of the film and a new appreciation.

But even more, I would love to see both IFM and IT! with the eyes of a 10-year-old child of the 50's once more time.

Thank you for your time. John Mastrocco

Savant thinks John's observations on the nature of 50's Science Fiction films and their impact now, half a century later, are pretty darn accurate. Since what he expressed what I tried to, but better, I felt printing his note a constructive thing to do! Thank you John!

Back to INVADERS FROM MARS, part One

Text (c) Copyright 1999 Glenn Erickson

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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