As a little warm-up for tomorrow’s online challenge, Blog Like It’s The War Of The Worlds, here are some examples of the worst the planet Mars has thrown at us, through film and TV.
5. Mars Attacks
This spoof of classic alien invasion movies had it all: a big budget, decent (for its time) special effects, an all-star cast (including some members who actually had talent), and a solid PR campaign. All it was missing was laughs. It tried so damn hard – too hard (and yeah, I know it wasn’t taking itself seriously, and it wasn’t supposed to), and every funny opportunity fell flat. This flick also loses points for paying homage to “Attack of the Killer Tomatos” with the use of terrible music at the end to defeat the Martians by causing their heads to explode. It was different, and only slightly bearable, the first time around when it was done on ‘Tomatos, but the annoyance factor was way too high this time.
4. Spaced Invaders
On Hallowe’en night, a Martian scout craft, part of a massive battle fleet preparing to engage another alien enemy, goes astray and crashes on Earth. The befuddled, big-headed, half-sized warriors emerge, meet a little girl, and… a really bad movie ensues. I know this was a kid’s film, and so a heavy dose of cuteness and cheezy humour goes with the territory, but most of the time it didn’t work. Didn’t help that the guy voicing the Martian pilot was clearly trying his best to do a Nicholson impression and couldn’t pull it off to save his life. The movie had one redeeming virtue in the form of this line from the Earthling heroine: “They’re not evil, they’re just stupid.” Yup. Kinda like the people who put this flick together, and, admittedly, those of us who actually watched it (even if I only saw it on the TV movie channel!).
3. War of the Worlds – the TV series
How many seasons was this bastardized sequel to George Pal’s enjoyable 1950’s reimagining of HG Well’s classic allowed to run? 2?!? Shows you what SF fans and audiences in general were willing to put up with at the end of the 80’s during the desert period of TV science fiction when “Star Trek – The Next Generation” was pretty much the only thing on. This damn thing shouldn’t have lasted more than 2 episodes. I mean, come-on, full-sized Martians killing people, crawling inside them and running around in the meatbags to do their dirty work? Wouldn’t it be enough to take over a transmitter, send a signal home and call for reinforcements for another open attack? And why was it that the general public on the show – set in the same world as Pal’s film, with the invasion firmly in its past – have completely forgotten about said 50’s near-annihilation of the human species? Then there was the standard “scary” reveal when the Martian three-fingered hand would come ripping out of the meatbag’s chest to snag a new victim, in what was a truly pathetic rip-off of the chestburster from “Alien”. Oh, and let’s not forget how it all started: some sort of terrorist attack or criminal heist or something targetting an allegedly secret government warehouse causes a bunch of 40-gallon drums to get knocked over, releasing supposedly dead Martians who proceed to wake up, kill some people, then steal one of their flying war machines, power it up, and go sailing out the door and into – well, wherever it was they went to find some victims to make into meatbags, instead of doing the smart thing like going home to get reinforcements. So Martians that were most definitely dead at the end of the 50’s invasion are now suddenly spry and ready for action? This wasn’t “War of the Worlds” – it was “The Princess Bride”! They weren’t dead – they were “only mostly dead. And mostly dead is slightly alive.” Mostly dead, but all bad.
2. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
What can I say about this ultimate stinker that hasn’t already been said, except that I pity the older generation of SF fans and general movie-goers who might have actually suffered through this in the theatre. Seeing late one night on TV (I think it was “Sci-Fi Friday” on KSTW before it was taken over by one of the new networks) was bad enough. The presence of a pre-Trek Leonard Nimoy is probably testament to young actors willing to do anything for screen time.
1. Invaders from Mars – the 80’s remake
This mightily steaming pile of cinematic excressence defeats even “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” for the not-remotely-coveted number one spot on this list because not only was it bad all over the place, it was an insult to the competant 1953 Cold War infiltration/subversion paranoia movie that inspired it!
On another note…
Remember to join in the fun tomorrow, Thursday, October 30th – the 70th anniversary of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast by taking part in our online challenge: Blog Like It’s The War Of The Worlds. Come to Not A Planet Anymore and let us know you’re in – then, if you’ve got a blog, start blogging as though the Martians were really invading. If you let us know what your blog’s address is, we’ll add a link to our list of participants so others can click over to your site to read about what’s happening in your part of the world. Don’t have a blog of your own? No problem, just leave comments on any of our Blog Like It’s The War Of The Worlds posts here on Not A Planet Anymore, or any of the other participants’ sites, and we’ll count you in too. Let us know in the comments section how you’re faring as the Martian tripods wreak havoc. Then, on Hallowe’en, as a special treat, we’ll post highlights from all of the participants. Join us tomorrow for Blog Like It’s The War Of The Worlds!