Invaders from Mars (1986)

PG | 100 mins | Science fiction | 6 June 1986

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HISTORY

       A 10 Aug 1981 DV news item announced that producer Jay Weston would helm the project with production designer Joe Alves hired to direct. An Aug 1986 AmCin article reported that once director Tobe Hooper was hired, he wanted the production to be “an homage” to the 1953 film Invaders From Mars (see entry) in a contemporary setting with high production values. Hooper enlisted the aid of director of photography Daniel Pearl to create “a rock video look and feel.” To accomplish this, Pearl used two tools he borrowed from the rock video world: robot-controlled lights known as Vari-Lights® and the Louma Crane. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that the Louma Crane enabled Hooper to set up complicated tracking shots using point-of-view camera angles. Vari-Lights® are capable of emitting more than sixty colors in a split second. Its memory system has ninety-six channels in which to store “255 separate cues.”
       According to a 14 Jul 1985 LAT article and production notes in AMPAS library files, child actor Jimmy Hunt, who played young “David Gardner” in the original 1953 film, came out of retirement to play the police chief searching for David’s father.
       A 20 Dec 1985 LADN news item reported that former Marine Corps Captain Dale Dye held an “eleven-week boot camp for the actors” to train them to act like a real marine platoon. Dye, formerly a Soldier of Fortune magazine editor, came to Los Angeles, CA, to establish Warriors, Inc., a company dedicated to portraying military realism on the screen.
       A 10 Feb 1985 LAT article originally ...
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       A 10 Aug 1981 DV news item announced that producer Jay Weston would helm the project with production designer Joe Alves hired to direct. An Aug 1986 AmCin article reported that once director Tobe Hooper was hired, he wanted the production to be “an homage” to the 1953 film Invaders From Mars (see entry) in a contemporary setting with high production values. Hooper enlisted the aid of director of photography Daniel Pearl to create “a rock video look and feel.” To accomplish this, Pearl used two tools he borrowed from the rock video world: robot-controlled lights known as Vari-Lights® and the Louma Crane. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that the Louma Crane enabled Hooper to set up complicated tracking shots using point-of-view camera angles. Vari-Lights® are capable of emitting more than sixty colors in a split second. Its memory system has ninety-six channels in which to store “255 separate cues.”
       According to a 14 Jul 1985 LAT article and production notes in AMPAS library files, child actor Jimmy Hunt, who played young “David Gardner” in the original 1953 film, came out of retirement to play the police chief searching for David’s father.
       A 20 Dec 1985 LADN news item reported that former Marine Corps Captain Dale Dye held an “eleven-week boot camp for the actors” to train them to act like a real marine platoon. Dye, formerly a Soldier of Fortune magazine editor, came to Los Angeles, CA, to establish Warriors, Inc., a company dedicated to portraying military realism on the screen.
       A 10 Feb 1985 LAT article originally announced principal photography would get underway in Apr 1985, but a 6 Aug 1985 HR production chart stated that shooting began 10 Jul 1985 in Los Angeles, CA. Am Cin reported the budget was $12 million with a fifteen-week shooting schedule. The original 1953 version was shot on a modest budget of $60,000. Production notes state that principal photography was completed 20 Nov 1985.
       Filming began at the Gardner house, an existing structure on the grounds of Malibu State Park in Malibu, CA, first built by RKO Pictures for Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1947, see entry). The hill and a replica of the house were built at a Hollywood Center Studios soundstage, and used for night scenes. Principal interiors were built in a converted seaplane hangar at Terminal Island in Long Beach, CA. The cavernous space was able to house a spaceship set that measured seventy-five feet wide, 150 feet long and forty-five feet high.
       Bedrooms for David and his parents were also constructed at the hangar, as well as two sandpit sections and a rear exterior portion of the Gardner house. Wide exterior shots of the sandpit were filmed at a former silica mine in Simi Valley, CA, that could accommodate more than 300 “Marine reserve unit extras with armored vehicles and light artillery.” Another location used was Eagle Rock High School in Eagle Rock, CA, which doubled as Menzies Public School.
       Two models were built to film the alien spaceship. A nine-foot long replica appeared at the film’s climax. Another three-foot miniature is the UFO David observes landing at the back of his house.
       The filmmakers inserted several visual jokes reminiscent of the original 1953 film. The basement furnace room sequence featured a “tentacled head-in-the-globe,” an original prop loaned by Bob Burns from his extensive collection of science-fiction memorabilia. A “pod” resting under a janitor’s cot paid tribute to Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1957, see entry). Early on, George Gardner’s copy of Fantascene magazine is open to an article of a retrospective look at “the making of the original Invaders From Mars.
       End credits state: “ Lifeforce courtesy of Tri-Star.” The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Special thanks to: Musco Lite, Inc., Malibu Creek State Park, Professional Video Communications Division, JVC Company of America, Tomy Toys, Rocketdyne, Ford Motor Company,” “The Producers gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the United States Marine Corps in the making of this film and in the defense of American ideals for 210 years,” and U.S.A. Marine Corps advisors: Lieutenant Colonel Fred Peck, Chief Warrant Officer Chuck Henry.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Aug 1986
---
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1981
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 1985
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 1986
p. 3, 17.
Los Angeles Daily News
20 Dec 1985
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Feb 1985
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Jul 1985
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Jun 1986
p. 1, 6.
New York Times
6 Jun 1986
p. 14.
Variety
21 May 1986
p. 25.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
The Cannon Group, Inc. Presents
a Golan-Globus Production
of a Tobe Hooper Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Loc mgr
2d 2d asst dir
3rd 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
2d unit dir, 2d unit crew
1st asst dir, 2d unit crew
2d asst dir, 2d unit crew
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Based on a scr by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl cam op
Key grip
Still photog
Still photog
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Steadicam op
Spec eff photog
Best boy grip
Best boy elec
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Grip
Gaffer
Rigging gaffer
Cameras by
Dir of photog, 2d unit crew
1st asst cam, 2d unit crew
2d asst cam, 2d unit crew
Gaffer, 2d unit crew
Best boy elec, 2d unit crew
Elec, 2d unit crew
Elec, 2d unit crew
Elec, 2d unit crew
Key grip, 2d unit crew
Grip, 2d unit crew
Grip, 2d unit crew
Grip, 2d unit crew
Louma Crane by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Storyboard artist
Concept artist
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Addl editing
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutting
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set dec
Set dresser
Draftsman
Draftsman
Draftsman
Asst set dresser
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Prop asst
Prop asst
Prop asst
Set const crew
Const coord
Const coord
Lead carpenter
Lead carpenter
Lead carpenter
Lead carpenter
Lead sculptor
Lead sculptor
Lead sculptor
Lead painter
Standby painter
Standby carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
MUSIC
Addl synthesizer mus by
Mus supv
Mus ed
Mus cond and consultant
Electronic mus eng
Synthesist
Electronic mus rec at
SOUND
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Apprentice sd eff ed
Apprentice sd eff ed
Supv dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Asst dial ed
Asst dial ed
Asst dial ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst foley ed
Spec Martian vocal eff
Spec Martian vocal eff
Spec Martian vocal eff
Spec Martian vocal eff
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff by
Invader creatures des and created by
Title des
Title des
Title and opticals
Prod of spec eff, Visual eff crew
Opt supv, Visual eff crew
Model supv, Visual eff crew
Chief model maker, Visual eff crew
Vista-Vision cam op, Visual eff crew
Vista-Vision cam op, Visual eff crew
Vista-Vision cam asst, Visual eff crew
Vista-Vision cam asst, Visual eff crew
Opt cam, Visual eff crew
Opt cam asst, Visual eff crew
Prod supv, Visual eff crew
Anim supv, Visual eff crew
Ed supv, Visual eff crew
Art dept coord, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Art dept, Creature eff crew
Mechanical dept coord, Creature eff crew
Mechanical dept coord, Creature eff crew
Mechanical dept, Creature eff crew
Mechanical dept, Creature eff crew
Mechanical dept, Creature eff crew
Mechanical dept, Creature eff crew
Mechanical dept, Creature eff crew
Mechanical dept, Creature eff crew
Mechanical dept, Creature eff crew
Spec eff coord, Mechanical eff crew
Spec eff supv, Mechanical eff crew
Spec eff supv, Mechanical eff crew
Spec eff crew, Mechanical eff crew
Spec eff crew, Mechanical eff crew
Spec eff crew, Mechanical eff crew
Spec eff crew, Mechanical eff crew
Computer graphics, Mechanical eff crew
Prod/Art Dir, Mechanical eff crew
Co-prod, Mechanical eff crew
Computer anim, Mechanical eff crew
Vari-Lite® tech, Vari-Lite® automated lighting
Vari-Lite® tech, Vari-Lite® automated lighting
Vari-Lite® tech, Vari-Lite® automated lighting
Vari-Lite® tech, Vari-Lite® automated lighting
Spec visual eff by
MAKEUP
Makeup and hair supv
Key makeup artist
Makeup and hair
Makeup and hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Prod coord
Prod auditor
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Asst to Mr. Hooper
Prod secy
Unit pub
Key prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod equip and facilities provided by
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Scr supv, 2d unit crew
Extras casting
Teacher
Craft service
Craft service
Craft service
Craft service
Military tech adv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt marine
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt safety
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the film Invaders from Mars written by Richard Blake (Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 1953).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 June 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 6 June 1986
Production Date:
10 July--20 November 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Cannon Films, Inc., & Cannon International, B.V.
Copyright Date:
16 July 1986
Copyright Number:
PA298071
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25051
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

George Gardner encourages his son David’s dreams of becoming an astronaut by stargazing with him. A thunderstorm wakes David, and he observes a strange spaceship landing on Copper Hill, just beyond the house. His father agrees to investigate, but returns a changed man. In the morning, David Gardner notices his father wearing only one slipper. His normally sunny disposition is somber and his personality is flat. David also notices a wound on the back of his father’s neck. In the kitchen, George Gardner dumps sugar cubes into his coffee, and the coffee dribbles down his chin as he drinks. David is frightened by his father’s change in behavior. At night, when he confesses his suspicions to his mother, Helen Gardner, she assures him that George is fine. Later, however, Helen calls police after she realizes George is missing. When the police chief and Officer Kenney agree to investigate Copper Hill, George suddenly appears. The officers return to the house with altered personalities, but only David notices the difference. He wakes up in the middle of the night, and observes as his parents disappear over the ridge. In the morning, Helen is transformed. She offers David a plate piled with burnt bacon, and wants to take him to see the special place on Copper Hill. When David sees his mother eat a chunk of raw hamburger smothered in salt, he declines to go. At school, David overhears his schoolteacher, Mrs. McKeltch, tell the police chief about a plan that involves George Gardner. David sneaks into Mrs. McKeltch’s office and catches her eating a live frog. Mrs. McKeltch chases David, claiming he knocked over a female student. Nurse Linda Magnusson rescues ... +


George Gardner encourages his son David’s dreams of becoming an astronaut by stargazing with him. A thunderstorm wakes David, and he observes a strange spaceship landing on Copper Hill, just beyond the house. His father agrees to investigate, but returns a changed man. In the morning, David Gardner notices his father wearing only one slipper. His normally sunny disposition is somber and his personality is flat. David also notices a wound on the back of his father’s neck. In the kitchen, George Gardner dumps sugar cubes into his coffee, and the coffee dribbles down his chin as he drinks. David is frightened by his father’s change in behavior. At night, when he confesses his suspicions to his mother, Helen Gardner, she assures him that George is fine. Later, however, Helen calls police after she realizes George is missing. When the police chief and Officer Kenney agree to investigate Copper Hill, George suddenly appears. The officers return to the house with altered personalities, but only David notices the difference. He wakes up in the middle of the night, and observes as his parents disappear over the ridge. In the morning, Helen is transformed. She offers David a plate piled with burnt bacon, and wants to take him to see the special place on Copper Hill. When David sees his mother eat a chunk of raw hamburger smothered in salt, he declines to go. At school, David overhears his schoolteacher, Mrs. McKeltch, tell the police chief about a plan that involves George Gardner. David sneaks into Mrs. McKeltch’s office and catches her eating a live frog. Mrs. McKeltch chases David, claiming he knocked over a female student. Nurse Linda Magnusson rescues David and questions him in her office. She has no neck wound, so David gives his account of the unidentified flying object (UFO) at Copper Hill that robs people of their personalities. When Linda confronts Mrs. McKeltch, the teacher refuses to let the nurse examine the “boil” on her neck. Linda also notices a bandage on the neck of a student named Heather. Linda fears for David’s safety and suggests he hide at her house. However, David evades Mrs. McKeltch and Heather as they search for him in the parking lot, and becomes trapped when he hides in the teacher’s van. She drives to a cave, and David follows her inside. After walking through a series of tunnels, Mrs. McKeltch encounters a round alien creature, a face and brain uttering sounds. As it speaks, light flashes from the device planted in Mrs. McKeltch’s neck. The aliens realize David is in their midst, and Mrs. McKeltch vows to “get him” before he escapes. Soon, Linda Magnusson finds David on the run, and he shows her the alien cave. When he gets to the location, however, the cave has disappeared. He insists they go to Copper Hill, but the spaceship is also gone. In the distance, they hear George Gardner send two men with metal detectors into the sandpit at Copper Hill. David and Linda watch as a circular opening in the earth swallows the men. Linda and David drive away and narrowly miss hitting a school bus driven by Mrs. McKeltch. When Linda stops at a gas station to call state police, Mrs. McKeltch kidnaps David and drags him toward the school bus, but he breaks free. Linda hears the disturbance, and David gets into her car. They arrive at her office to find the telephone inoperable. The chief and Officer Kenney search the building while David leads Linda to the basement furnace room. They knock over some equipment, alerting their pursuers. However, an alien spaceship emerges through the floor, causing the officers to lose their footing, and enabling David and Linda to escape. David wants to find his parents before leaving town, but Linda insists they get help. David and Linda meet with General Wilson, commander of the military base that employs David’s father. The general attempts to verify their story by questioning the men with metal detectors, but the interrogation is halted when an invisible force kills the prisoners. The neck devices emit sparks of light as they appear to unscrew from the necks of the corpses. The general orders the base perimeter sealed, and summons officials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA and Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) scientists meet with the general and insist that their launch to Mars go as scheduled. For security purposes, the general calls for a temporary delay until they can determine the risks. Meanwhile, George Gardner plants a bomb inside a truck bound for the launch pad. A monitor in the general’s office indicates that the bomb has successfully destroyed the Mars rocket. General Wilson asks David to show him the sandpit at Copper Hill, and orders his soldiers to surround the area, but Sargent Rinaldi, the general’s aide, loses his footing and the sandpit swallows him. Two aliens stand near the cave, eyeing soldiers and Dr. Mark Weinstein, a member of SETI. Weinstein wants to converse with the aliens before the military launches an attack. He returns an alien mechanical part, believing the aliens understand him. Nevertheless, the scientist is vaporized, and the soldiers kill the aliens. David runs into the sandpit hoping to locate his parents, and Linda follows. Both are swallowed up, and the general sends soldiers after them. They lay down explosives and rappel into the hole left by the explosion. David observes as a device is implanted in Sgt. Rinaldi’s neck. Mrs. McKeltch orders other aliens to capture David and Linda. David pleads with the Martian Supreme Being to release his parents, arguing that mind control is wrong, and predicting the aliens’ failure conquering Earth. The head Martian comments that David is “a poor little guy,” and the boy punches him in the nose. As he runs away, David knocks over Mrs. McKeltch, who falls into the gaping mouth of an alien and is eaten alive. Realizing Sgt. Rinaldi is under the control of the Martians, the general orders his men to shoot him. David leads the soldiers back to the spaceship to destroy the Martian Supreme Being and save Linda from receiving an implant. Many soldiers are vaporized, but American firepower causes the Martian Supreme Being to retreat into a protective eye-shaped shell. As Linda is saved, soldiers plant explosives, and the general orders a five-minute delay to escape before detonation. Upon discovering that the escape route is blocked, David sacrifices a mint copper penny his father gave him to activate an alien weapon that is left behind. Soldiers escape through the new opening, but David hears his parents calling. He refuses their entreaties to join them on the spaceship, and while he struggles against them near the ridge, the spaceship explodes in the sky. David awakens from his nightmare in his bedroom. His parents comfort him, and he is relieved to find nothing implanted in his father’s neck. His mother tucks him into bed, but a thunderstorm snaps him awake. When he opens his window, and sees a UFO landing on Copper Hill, he runs to his parents’ room in a panic. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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