A Response Letter on
INVADERS FROM MARS
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!
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
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
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.
anxiety and fears today are so different from our generation that there
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
showed her the film clip of a real D&C school video from the Criterion
Strangelove and she asked "How could anyone believe THAT would protect
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
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.
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