In the middle 1980s, way down on Level 31 Randy Clower and Richard Malmos, machine-gun toting Film Vault Technicians First Class hosted this neglected cult show.
Balladeer’s Blog continues its celebration of the program’s THIRTIETH anniversary year.
ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Saturday June 7th, 1986 from 10:30pm to 1:00am.
SERIAL: Before showing and mocking Invaders from Mars our members of the Film Vault Corps (“the few, the proud, the sarcastic”) showed and mocked an episode of the 1950 Columbia serial Atom Man vs Superman. Kirk Alyn starred as Superman with Lyle Talbot as his archenemy Lex Luthor. Lex has his own secret identity in this serial – each episode he dons a lead mask and oversees the villainy as “Atom Man”.
This was one of the liveliest and most campily watchable serials of the 50s. Especially laughable are the bits when Superman “flies” – an effect achieved by switching from live footage of Kirk Alyn to INSERTED CARTOON FOOTAGE of Superman flying. Think of the ‘Toons in Roger Rabbit interacting with the live backgrounds and you have the idea.
FILM VAULT LORE: This week Laurie Savino, who held the rank of Mystery Clip Technician in the Film Vault Corps once again presented Channel 27’s Movie Ticket Giveaway.
Correctly identifying the Mystery Clip this time around would win a few lucky viewers tickets to the upcoming release of the 1986 remake of Invaders from Mars, starring Karen Black.
HOST SEGMENTS/ COMEDY SKETCHES – One of the comedy bits Randy and Richard injected into the film this time involved Jimmy Hunt, who played David Maclean, the child hero of the movie.
Whenever Hunt would say something harmless like “Gee Whiz” the Film Vault Guys would bleep part of it to make it sound like the kid had said “Jesus” and was getting censored. And so it went throughout the movie. Little Jimmy – but, hilariously, NONE of the adults, would occassionally get bleeped misleadingly as if cursing like a sailor.
A word beginning with “sh” would be bleeped like Jimmy was saying “shit”, a word beginning with “f” would be bleeped like Jimmy was saying “fuck”, multi-syllable “m” words would be bleeped like he was saying “motherfucking”. It was like a more adult throwback to the old “Cleveland-style” of movie hosting, dating back to the legendary Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson).
THE MOVIE: Invaders from Mars is a very fun-bad movie complete with cheap and unconvincing 1950s special effects, stiff and unbelievable characters and a groan-inducing finale. Some elderly critics praise this movie nostalgically and try to present it as a metaphor for anti-Communist paranoia, like the more-deserving Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Anybody who didn’t see this thing as a child in 1953 tends to view it more realistically: as a kitschy relic of its era, entertaining but hardly thought-provoking.
Davey Maclean (Hunt) is a child prodigy when it comes to astronomy. Through his bedroom telescope he observes a spaceship landing by a nearby bridge and burrowing itself underground, leaving no evidence of its landing. Impossible, I know, but it’s that kind of bad, nonsensical film.
His father (Leif Erickson of High Chaparral fame) goes to investigate what Davey saw and gets sucked down into the sandy terrain above the spacecraft. The aliens outfit Papa Maclean with a device at the base of his neck. Said device allows the Martians to control him.
Dear old dad is so transformed by the sinister E.T.’s that he exudes a sternness beyond even that of the dour Big John on High Chaparral! When he mercilessly backhands Davey across the room you can’t help but think “THAT’S what you should have done to Blue Boy long ago!”
At any rate, you can guess where this goes if you’ve seen The Brain Eaters, It Conquered the World or Zontar, the Thing from Venus. Both of Davey’s parents, one of his playmates, some griping cops and many others become puppets of the invading Martians. Nobody will believe Davey about the spaceship or the way it kidnaps people by sucking them down into the sand, like the monster in Blood Beach (previously shown on The Texas 27 Film Vault).
Ultimately a kindly physician (Helena Carter), an adult astronomer (Arthur Franz) who is a mentor of Davey’s, and a military man – bad moviedom’s “Eternal Colonel” himself, Morris Ankrum – believe the little boy’s story and call in tanks and troops to take on the Martians.
The organic interior of the Martian spaceship is always good for a few laughs as are the “Martians” themselves. The mindless drones are green humanoids who look like they should be in a movie titled Asparagus Men from Beyond the Stars or such. The leader of the Martians is a little guy who lives in a glass ball and looks like the bastard child of the Great Gazoo and an octopus.
SPOILER: In the end our heroes prevail over the goofy- looking aliens and their disintegrator guns. Or do they? The roundly ridiculed ending depicted Jimmy waking up, realizing it was all a dream. Or was it? The only ending worse than a crappy “it was all a dream” ending is one that goes on to show all the events in the dream about to come true in reality anyway … And that’s just what Invaders from Mars does! After being comforted by his parents Davey goes back to bed only to be awakened by the landing of the spaceship he dreamed about in the exact spot he dreamed it landed.
Some critics still insist all of this movie’s cheapness and campiness is intentional to convey a little boy’s perspective since a tyke is the main character. To me that excuse doesn’t hold up since we’re subjected to the “here we go again” ending. At least the British version was edited to end with the Martians being driven away and presenting no challenge to the reality of the preceding events.
IN THE NEAR FUTURE BALLADEER’S BLOG WILL PRESENT MORE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT MILESTONES.
Be here to share the Film Vault Corp’s mission of “safeguarding America’s schlock-culture heritage”.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFO ON THIS SHOW –https://glitternight.com/texas-27-film-vault/
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