Invaders from Mars (1986 film)

Invaders from Mars is a 1986 American science fiction horror film, directed by Tobe Hooper from a screenplay by Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby. It is a remake of the film of the same name, and is a reworking of that film's screenplay by Richard Blake from an original story by John Tucker Battle. Its production was instigated by Wade Williams, millionaire exhibitor, science fiction film fan and sometime writer-producer-director, who had reissued the original film in 1978 after purchasing the copyright to the property. Elaborate creature and visual effects were supplied by Stan Winston and John Dykstra.

Invaders from Mars
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTobe Hooper
Produced byEdward L. Alperson Jr.
Yoram Globus
Menahem Golan
David Rodgers
Wade H. Williams III
Screenplay byDan O'Bannon
Don Jakoby
Story byRichard Blake
John Tucker Battle
Music bySylvester Levay
Christopher Young
David Storrs
CinematographyDaniel Pearl
Edited byAlain Jakubowicz
Distributed byCannon Film Distributors
Release date
June 6, 1986 (USA)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[1]
Box office$4.9 million (domestic)[1]


On the night of a meteor shower, young David Gardner sees an alien spacecraft land in a sand quarry behind his house. This is the beginning of an alien invasion that sees David's parents (George and Ellen), his teachers and the townspeople slowly assimilated by the alien life forms, returning with fewer emotions.

The only one who believes David is the school nurse, Linda Magnuson. Together, David and Linda enlist the aid of the U.S. Marines to help save the world.

Ultimately, David awakes in his bed and tells his parents about the events, all apparently a nightmare. After he and his parents return to sleep, he is suddenly reawakened by the alien spacecraft beginning to land. Running to his parent's bedroom, he screams as an alien noise is heard.


Associations with other films

Jimmy Hunt, who plays the Police Chief in the 1986 version, played David MacLean in the 1953 film (renamed David Gardner in this version). David is seen watching this film's director Tobe Hooper's previous film, 1985's Lifeforce, on television when his mother surprises him.

When the indoctrinated police officers are searching for David and Nurse Magnuson in the school's basement, they briefly shine a flashlight on some stored theatrical props, one of which is the Supreme Intelligence alien inside its clear orb as depicted in the original 1953 version. It is not known if this is the original prop or a replica made for the 1986 film. The Gardner's mailbox shows the name of the town as Santa Mira, an homage to the town where another sci-fi film, 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, was set.

Filming locations

The scenes shot on location at David's school were filmed at Eagle Rock Elementary School in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. The school bore a temporary fake nameplate in the film that read "Menzies Elementary School" as a tribute to the 1953 film's director, William Cameron Menzies. The Gardners' home in the film is the same house that was purpose-built for the 1948 Cary Grant/Myrna Loy film, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and still stands as the administrative offices for park employees at Malibu Creek State Park. Other locations include Simi Valley, California.


Box office

Invaders from Mars was released on June 6, 1986 to a disappointing theatrical intake, opening in seventh place.[2] In total, it earned a paltry $4,884,663 at the US box office, a major loss from its $12,000,000 budget.[2]


Nina Darnton wrote in The New York Times that Hooper "knows how to construct a horror film so it builds to a screaming pitch" and also praised the "excellent cast," but thought that when the Martians are finally revealed, "the film becomes less terrifying. We get lost in the complexities of the inventions and finally they seem overdone and overproduced."[3] Variety panned the film as "an embarrassing combination of kitsch and boredom," adding that a remake of the 1953 original was a reasonable idea but "Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby's inferior screenplay fails to bring in new ideas or provide interesting dialog. The story elements here have been done to death in the interim."[4] Sid Smith of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and wrote, "Much of what is lovable about Hooper's fun, scary and refreshingly silly movie is all its in-jokes."[5] Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times stated, "If you can tap into Hooper's oddball rhythms and cold sendups, you can enjoy yourself. And, though the 1953 'Invaders' was an effective movie, it's not really the classic that people remember. Except for Menzies' superb production designs, everything in the remake is better: the acting, the camerawork, definitely the Martians. It may not grip audiences in the same way, but that's because Hooper is trying something harder, a conscious campiness that's tough to bring off."[6] Paul Attanasio of The Washington Post wrote that "despite its occasional sparkle, 'Invaders From Mars' is an overlong movie with a tiny spirit. It plays to a certain smug superiority of an audience nurtured on junky television, and while that smugness is in some ways justified—movies like the original 'Invaders From Mars' had their obvious failings—it's also, over the course of a feature film, more than a little annoying."[7] Time Out wrote, "... whereas the original worked by building up an increasingly black mood, this version relies almost entirely on the special effects; and such limited brooding tension as it has is gratuitously undermined by a string of sequences played purely for laughs".[8] Thomas Kent Miller in his book Mars in the Movies called it "unredeemingly awful."[9]

As of July 2019 the film holds a 36% approval rating at film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews.[10]

It was nominated for two awards at the 7th Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Supporting Actress for Louise Fletcher and Worst Visual Effects.

Home media

Scream Factory released the film for the first time on Blu-ray on April 7, 2015.[11]

See also


  1. Andrew Yule, Hollywood a Go-Go: The True Story of the Cannon Film Empire, Sphere Books, 1987 p189
  2. "Invaders From Mars (1986) - Weekend Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  3. Darnton, Nina (June 6, 1986). "The Screen: 'Invaders From Mars'". The New York Times. C14.
  4. "Film Reviews: Invaders From Mars". Variety. May 21, 1986. 25.
  5. Smith, Sid (June 9, 1986). "'Invaders' fun, scary—and silly". Chicago Tribune. Section 5, p. 5.
  6. Wilmington, Michael (June 5, 1986). "A New and Improved 'Invaders'". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 6.
  7. Attanasio, Paul (June 9, 1986). "Smug & Spacey 'Invaders'". The Washington Post. C4.
  8. "Invaders from Mars Review. Movie Reviews – Film – Time Out London". Archived from the original on 16 August 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  9. Miller, Thomas Kent. Mars in the Movies: A History. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2016. ISBN 978-0-7864-9914-4. p. 180
  10. "Invaders from Mars - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  11. Scream Factory Overload: Carrie! Ghoulies! Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3!!
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