Some films have the capacity to channel your childhood nightmares, reanimating the sweaty fever dream of a night spent under the duvet shivering with fright at the shadows outside your window. For me, Invaders from Mars is one such movie. In my head (says he preparing to get shouted at by cinephiles who will know better…) it rivals The Night of the Hunter as a phantasmagoria of childhood, shocking in its apocalyptic efficiency and haunting in the way it asset strips all the comforting qualities of an (admittedly) idealised childhood.
Have no doubt, this is allegorical propaganda in its purest form. Abduction in small-town America, brain-washing and the resultant mindless obedience are the prophecies of a Communist-hunting culture. However, these brutally simplistic qualities now fuel its nightmarish feel. The framing – derigeur for the day – boxes up the claustrophobia and it’s straight-laced urgency give the movie an authenticity its staginess might otherwise struggle to conjure.
Best screened with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T, or any movie where the righteous kid is ignored by ignorant elders, Invaders From Mars is the ultimate late-night repeat watch.