Before the terraforming project, Europa’s atmosphere was virtually nonexistent due to the gravity being roughly thirteen percent of Earth’s. Now, with the aid of vegetation, the atmosphere is equivalent to living in a high-altitude region on Earth, which my lungs have acclimated to when I am at rest, but I have to employ breathing techniques when attempting anything strenuous.
The only reason I’m mentioning this is that there is almost no weather here, nothing severe, anyway, no rough wind conditions, and no harsh seasons. Yet, the sky has been shifting colors ever since a Denpa brought news of the suspicious death of Rezter, a Europan from Dery’Ylok Prefecture, who was rumored to have been beaten to death by a member of Sel’tab, a tribe that was supposed to have been extinct since the assassination of the spiritual prophet Nes’Tim.
As our community listened in bewilderment, it struck me as amazing that this simple death of one Europan in a small village could affect everyone so drastically. On Earth, it was a given that deaths occurred all the time, some natural, some accidental, and others by violent crime, so much so that unbeknownst to me, I had become desensitized to it. Yet, these gentle beings were affected enough to cause fluctuations in the mild weather, which makes me wonder about the true bond between this land and the natives, a connection that I as an outsider would never experience, never be a part of, no matter how long I lived here.
To honor their father’s passing, Rezter’s children, Kubus and Veron, are making a pilgrimage, carrying their father’s corpse in an uz cu’nal from Dery’Ylok Prefecture to the peak of Pwyll to place the body in front of the fossilized remains of Nes’Tim and pray for their father’s entry through the Gates of Juh’holl, where Europan souls are released from the flesh and become stardust in order to rejoin the universe.
As is tradition, families along the way have opened their homes to Kubus and Veron, offering food, aid and sleeping accommodations to help them along the way.
Very soon, Kubus and Veron will be passing through our village and in addition to offering them a place to rest, my youngest son, Jampi, wants to accompany them on their journey. To my surprise, his mother signed off on it and both my daughters are in agreement, so if Kubus and Veron are amenable to the idea, our family will join the pilgrimage and lend our voices to help open the gates to Juh’holl for Rezter.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, although they’re adopted, I really love my children. And though I’m not supposed to have a favorite, Jampi’s in the lead by a country mile.
But don’t tell the others, as these things are subject to change.
Until next broadcast, this is Captain Edwards, signing off.
Denpa – An envoy equipped with an audiographic memory that can store and recall spoken messages at will in the same voice, tone and inflection of the original person who spoke it, who travels from village to village to deliver messages from other communities both near and far.
Egami – A docile mineral-based creatures primarily used for family transportation due to the fact they are virtually inexhaustible.
Gates of Juh’holl – Europan afterlife; where souls are released from the flesh to become stardust and rejoin the universe.
Ipu llqr mwyll xfrr – Abogzon credo meaning “success or death”; satisfaction guaranteed.
Isogoles – Europan monthly day of pay.
Jbwqnadb – Europan spelling of lemonade.
Meis’lo – The only surviving witness to the murder of the prophet Nes’Tim.
Micdow yl – The vessels of new life; children.
Nes’Tim – The most revered spiritual prophet on Europa, slain by a heretic tribe who call themselves Sel’Tab.
Pwyll – Europa’s highest mountain.
Qik’climajh – Depending on its usage in a sentence, denotes either the act of telling a story, or the storyteller themselves.
Sel’Tab – A heretic tribe responsible for the death of the prophet Nes’Tim.
Shig’umfu – “Interesting world of another”; a documentary qik’climajh in which neighbors tell the story of a person’s life as learned from casual conversations.
Spo – Food.
Uz Cu’nal – A biological storage unit used primarily for food preservation.
Uz – An unspeakable sexual act; a derogatory term; an insult.
Today is isogoles, which is the monthly day of pay for everyone who lives on Europa, no matter what your profession, no matter how old you are. And we’re not talking about money because Europa has no currency, per se. People are paid off, each according to their needs. Some are paid in food while others are paid in services or clothing, or one of nearly a hundred things that serve as some sort of commodity here.
Since my family has the ability to grow our own food and my children are adept at creating clothing, we accept water as payment, as our village is far removed from the sea and a trip there and back would take nearly three weeks to complete and that’s only when conditions permit.
Today also marked the arrival of Denpa to our village, which caused the usual amount of excitement. Denpa is an envoy that travels from village to village delivering messages from other communities both near and far.
He’s the Europan version of e-mail, equipped with an audiographic memory that can store and recall spoken messages at will in the same voice, tone and inflection of the original person who spoke it.
Production in the village stops whenever Denpa appears as locals crowd around to hear if they’ve received a message from distant loved ones. I’m always excited when my wife gets messages from home and though I know it’s silly, I secretly pray that Denpa has a message from my mother and father. Hell, I wouldn’t even mind hearing from my older sister at this point.
Like I said, silly, but you have no idea how hard it is being the only one of your kind, even though I’m surrounded by the kindest beings in existence. I am so very far away from my home, and at times I feel every inch of that distance.
So, if you can hear this transmission and you have the ability to broadcast, please try to send me a message, a ping, anything.
Until next broadcast, this is Captain Edwards, signing off.
Forgive the brevity of this broadcast, but I’m really tired after a full evening of shig’umfu, which means interesting world of another and is a brand of documentary qik’climajh in which your neighbors must tell the story of your life as presented to them in casual conversations. It’s important that the exchange be casual. Purposeful family exposition is frowned upon as it comes off as braggadocio, which will most assuredly be included in the story your neighbor tells.
The most interesting thing about the ritual is the closer you get to shig’umfu, the friendlier your neighbors become. Now, don’t get me wrong, Europans by nature are a pretty inquisitive and sociable lot, but come shig’umfu, interest in your family, your life and even your day to day misadventures increase tenfold.
Also fascinating to note, equal importance is paid to the subject matter as well as the telling. Families put forth their very best experiences, both positive and negative, hoping to present layers of interesting source material. The teller is then responsible for arranging the events as to present a story replete with happiness, sorrow, triumphs and defeats, births and losses, because everyone knows the best tales take you on a journey through a full range of emotion.
Careful attention to detail must be paid because there’s nothing more shaming than to have the family whose story you’re telling correct you, though, in polite society that almost never happens. Still, most can tell by the expressions on the family’s faces whether you’ve gotten the story right.
All this may sound like a silly waste of time to you, but it’s really educational in that you get a glimpse at how your neighbors view you and your family. Tonight, it was my family’s turn to reenact our neighbors’ lives, all eighteen generations, so I’m sure you can see why I’d be tired.
But it was fun.
Until next broadcast, this is Captain Edwards, signing off.
You’re not going to believe this, but we’re in the middle of a lemonade boom on Europa. I guess that needs some explaining, doesn’t it? Okay, well, the cultural exchange in my house goes both ways. Usually, I learn Europan culture as my children learn it. My wife is a patient and excellent teacher. But at the same time, I try to sneak in a few Earth facts along the way, and my children love it.
One time, when they were curious about what I did when I was their age, I told them about how my mom helped me build a lemonade stand in front of our house when I was a kid. They went nuts over the concept and begged me to help them build one here on Europa.
I know what you’re going to ask and the answer is, No, Europa does not have lemons. So we improvised by using a sweet mineral root from the tree that grows in our backyard. I even taught them the English alphabet, or enough of it so they could spell the word LEMONADE. I offered to make the sign but was vetoed. They wanted to write the word itself which came out looking like “JBWQNADB” but they were so proud of themselves that I couldn’t bring myself to correct them.
At first I thought they had set themselves up for disappointment, as passersby only offered their lemonade stand the queerest looks, but my youngest, Nes’Tim bless him, started calling to them, “Hey, come buy our lemonade stand!“
Soon people flocked around as my kids poured cups of lemonade and told the story of how my mother and I created this custom on Earth. Again, I didn’t have the heart to correct them in the middle of their sales pitch. People stayed, listened to the story, drank the alien concoction and invited others to join. I’m sure they stayed for the novelty and not for the lemonade. Although made from sweet root, that concoction was the most bitter thing I’ve ever tasted in my life.
The next day, when I thought that the lemonade curiosity had passed, I stepped outside to see a crudely built lemonade stand on each of my neighbors’ doorsteps. But there was no competition in it. Everyone visited everyone else’s lemonade stand and listened intently as the stand owner related the tale of how I discovered lemonade. Apparently, they thought that the telling of the story was the key part of the transaction and that the drinking of the lemonade itself signaled the end of the story.
Weird, but funny. And I have to run now. I’ve drank more than my fair share of lemonade today and I think I’m going to be sick.
Until next broadcast, this is Captain Edwards, signing off.
It’s that season again, the time of year when all the families in the communities are asked to bring their egami in for routine physicals. What’s an egami? I hear you asking and the simple, though not totally accurate answer is, they’re mineral-based creatures primarily used for family transportation. Seemingly mindless and docile, the egami require very little care and are virtually inexhaustible. Normally, on Earth, creatures like these would have been enslaved and abused, but here, Europans go through an extensive interview process and accept the humble beasts of burden into the family structure to the point where they dine and sleep together.
My family is fortunate in that we live so close to an egami clinic, which means Rocky, our pet (it feels so weird referring to him that way, but I simply don’t have a better word) is always amongst the first to be seen. Yes, I think of our egami as a male, though they are gender non-specific, and yes, I was in charge of choosing the name. I just wish there was someone around to get the joke. Sometimes being the only one of your kind can be a lonely thing.
Naturally, there are those who grumble that lotteries should be drawn each season to rotate the order in which the egamis are seen, but these complaints usually come from the hermits who live on the fringes of the community and they are easily ignored since they generally tend to moan about everything.
The physical is more like a spa day for the egami. After their vital signs are checked, they are basically pampered for the day. Another function of physical season is to offer families the ability to trade in their egamis if they’re unhappy with them, which is extremely rare, but has been known to happen.
My family is quite pleased with Rocky, although sometimes my daughter wonders if he would have been better off living in the wild. The problem with this suggestion is, once you’ve domesticated an egami, very seldom do the wild herds accept them back into the fold, so most wind up dying from what is believed to be either loneliness or lack of affection.
Which is a horrible way to die and who would subject a family member to that?
Until next broadcast, this is Captain Edwards, signing off.
The other day a qik’climajh — translation, translation… uh, I guess they would be considered the Europan version of storytellers — acted out the Tragedy of Nes’Tim, the famous surface whale whose fossilized remains rest at the highest point of Pwyll.
Once the most revered being on Europa, the spiritual prophet Nes’Tim was slain by the heretic tribe, Sel’Tab, during the height of the Glacial Wars. Meis’lo, a relative of my wife, is the only surviving witness to the tragedy. He was a child at the time, and foolishly wedged himself between the heretics and Nes’Tim. He was lucky to escape the confrontation with his life. He bears the scar of the puncture wound over his second heart.
The Sel’Tab, not above slaying a prophet, apparently had qualms about murdering a child. While I wish I could have met Nes’Tim, I’m glad that Meis’lo was not the one killed during that skirmish. Despite his nearly 600 years of age, he is a great history buff and I love talking about Europan history with him.
Back to the qik’climajh, a term that actually covers both the person telling the story and the act of storytelling (it sounds complicated but you can tell the difference when the word is used in a sentence). The ritual of the qik’climajh is that everyone in attendance takes turns telling a story.
I, unfortunately, am not much of a storyteller, so when it came to be my turn, I chose to talk about one of my favorite classic comedy shows, The Honeymooners. I tried to explain the concept of television and quickly abandoned it when I sensed the crowd getting restless.
As I retold a few of the episodes I remembered best, the ones with the chef of the future, Carlos mambo lessons, and rubber marshmallows, I watched their faces knot in confusion. At first I thought it was my fault. As I said, I’m nobody’s first choice for a storyteller, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
It was the concept of KramdenRalph, as they referred to Mr. Gleeson’s character, they struggled to understand. In fact, his character was so perplexing to their Europan mindset, it sparked a great debate amongst the elders, who couldn’t find the logic of how and why everyone tolerated the portly bus driver.
After many hours of serious debate, the consensus was that NortonEd and KramdenAlice should have stripped KramdenRalph of all his possessions and exiled him from the village of Bensonhurst, armed with only a Handy Housewife Helper and a can of KraMars Delicious Mystery Appetizer.
Now, I’m actually looking forward to next week’s outing because I can’t wait to get their take on Seinfeld.
Until next broadcast, this is Captain Edwards, signing off.
This is Alexander Edwards, former captain of the Intergalactic Space Vessel Expediter.
Greetings from Europa.
I know that sounds hokey, like one of those golden age of radio programs, but I really couldn’t think of a clever opening line. I chose that particular opening because it’s the most accurate. This broadcast is coming to you from the Jupiter moon we were warned to stay away from in 2001: A Space Odyssey. And truth to tell, I don’t know if I can really call this a broadcast. I mean, I was able to salvage this transmitter, but I’m no engineer. The green light blinks but I’m not sure this thing is working. And is a broadcast truly a broadcast if no one hears it?
I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m rambling. My thoughts are all over the place right now. I have so much information to impart and have no idea where to begin. My crew and I were on route to Saturn when our ship, the Expediter, was bombarded by meteorites the size of Fiddle Faddle and we were forced to make an emergency landing here on Europa. It was a catastrophe. But they say any crash you can walk away from is a good one.
The problem is, I’m the only one who can make that statement. The rest of the crew died on impact and I spent the next three days burying them in shallow graves. I know what you must be thinking, why would I waste three days of oxygen burying dead men. The way I see it, if not for their sacrifice, I wouldn’t have had oxygen to begin with, and they were friends who deserved a decent burial, at the very least. I did for them what I hope they’d do for me if the situation was reversed.
Turns out that I used up all their oxygen for nothing. When I had depleted the last of the air supply, I decided that I was going to take my life by removing my helmet and succumbing to the Martian atmosphere. As you can see, I wasn’t successful. Oh, I removed my helmet, all right. I just didn’t die very well. It turns out that an aborted terraforming project that the Intergalactic Council labeled a failure, actually produced a layer of breathable oxygen. It’s thin and took my body some time to adjust to it, but it’s here nonetheless and is pollution free which isn’t a bad trade-off.
I wish I could tell you how long it’s been since I crash landed here, but I honestly have no idea. At the time I wasn’t thinking about tracking the days. The bulk of my concentration was focused on staying alive. I’m sure you understand. So, let’s just say I’ve been here for a while. A long while. Long enough to make contact with the indigenous life forms here, and acclimate myself to the Europan way of life. In fact, I’m married now…with children.
I would elaborate on that, but I’m trying to keep the transmissions short in order to conserve energy since I’m not sure how much juice this generator holds.
Until next broadcast, this is Captain Edwards, signing off.
The heavens. Once an object of superstition, awe, and fear, now a vast region for growing knowledge. The distance of Venus, the atmosphere of Mars, the size of Jupiter, and the speed of Mercury. All this and more we know. But their greatest mystery the heavens have kept a secret. What sort of life, if any, inhabits these other planets? Human life, like ours? Or life extremely lower in the scale? Or dangerously higher? Seeking the answer to this timeless question, forever seeking, is the constant preoccupation of scientists everywhere. Scientists famous and unknown. Scientists in great universities, and in modest homes. Scientists of all ages.
That was the opening narration of an alien invasion film that predates “Independence Day”, “District 9”, and even “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Hello, and welcome to Madd Fictional Media, where today we’ll be taking a look at the 1953 science fiction classic, “Invaders From Mars.”
Oh, and if you haven’t guessed, we intend to walk you through the film, and that’s as close to a spoiler warning as we’re prepared to give you for a movie that’s been out since the 50s. If you’d rather not have the plot ruined for you, you know what to do.
Please note: If this is your first exposure to “Invaders From Mars” and you choose to stay, you’ll no doubt find it outdated and corny, but, if you can step outside of that mindset, and take a look at what the movie gets right, who knows, you just might enjoy yourself, and add a new classic sci-fi film to your watch list.
Now, any film buff worth their salt knows that the mark of a good film begins with a snapshot of the world the movie is set in, so that the audience can get their footing before the plot kicks in. And when you come across a great film, you’ll discover the same effect is achieved with little to no expository dialogue.
As low budget as Invaders appears to be, it does a fantastic job of providing a proper backdrop for the film. We understand instantly the reality in which this story takes place, with the family profession, the placement of the Rockwellian farmhouse, and our young protagonist’s interest, without any of the worldbuilding getting in the way. It’s a very barebones approach to a film that wastes no time getting the audience stuck in.
After the opening credits, our focus turns to the bedroom of 10-year-old David MacLean, played by Jimmy Hunt. His window is wide open, with a telescope poking out of it, which suggests that he’s an amateur astronomer.
His alarm clock goes off at 4 AM, and he’s startled out of sleep, fumbles to shut it off, and quickly stuffs it under his pillow to muffle the noise.
George MacLean, played by Leif Erickson, hears the alarm, and assumes it’s time to get up, but his wife, Mary, played by Hillary Brooke, points out that it’s only 4 in the morning.
George figures out that it’s his son, and as he enters the boy’s room, prepared to give him a good talking to, he sees David with his eye pressed to the telescope, examining an astronomical event that won’t happen again for six years.
And George is immediately invested! Which shows us they’re not just father and son, they’re best buds! And David has probably taken up aspects of his father’s scientific profession as a hobby. And the pair would have probably stayed up all night long, if Mary didn’t show up to put both her boys to bed.
It’s a simple show don’t tell bonding moment that illustrates the family norm. Yes, it’s inconvenient that David woke the entire household, but his parents aren’t angry. They understand, and support, his scientific interests, the way good parents should.
Roughly 40 minutes later, David is awakened again, this time by a noise that sounds like a thunderstorm, and when he looks out the window, he sees a flying saucer land in the sandpit on the hill just behind the house.
When David wakes his dad, and tells him about what he saw, the important thing to note is that George doesn’t disbelieve David, even though he tries to calm his son down by telling him it was just a dream. But unbeknownst to David, George is part of a scientific research team working on a secret project, and he feels what David saw might be related to it, so he goes out to the sandpit to investigate.
Morning comes, and George hasn’t returned, so Mary calls the police, and two officers (played by Charles Cane and Douglas Kennedy) conduct a search, and they wind up disappearing as well.
George eventually returns home but from the moment we first lock eyes on him, we can tell he’s a totally different man. He has a thousand-yard stare that would spook a zombie, and he’s disconnected and irritable, not at all like the affable man we saw earlier.
When questioned about his whereabouts, he curtly states that he stopped over to see their neighbor, Bill Wilson. But when George sits down, David spots a puncture wound on the back of his father’s neck.
When he asks about it, George backhands him hard enough to knock the young boy to the floor. And you can tell by David’s shocked expression that his father has never raised a hand to him before in his life.
Before Mary can question what happened, the policemen return, and they’re also noticeably different, robotic and distant, and although we don’t see it, David spots puncture wounds on the back of their necks, identical to his father’s.
I wasn’t fortunate enough to catch this in the theater when the film first opened. It was a little before my time. I watched it as a young boy in the mid 1960’s on late night television, after sneaking into the living room while my family was asleep.
This scene is where the first real fear came into play, because the film introduced a new concept to my young mind. I was used to monsters looking like the creature from the black lagoon, or something easily identifiable. But I was totally unprepared for the idea that monsters could wear the faces of the people you loved and cared about most in the world. That they could be changed into cold, unfeeling strangers overnight without your knowledge.
Yes, I know now that it was a popular theme during the cold war era of science fiction films, but as kid I didn’t know anything about the Red Scare. All I knew with a certainty was that monsters were real, and aliens existed and their only purpose was to take over our world.
But I digress.
Later, David, having a scientific mindset, takes his telescope outside, and trains it on the sandpit, where he witnesses the disappearance of a young girl, Kathy Wilson, played by Janine Perreau. He runs to tell the girl’s mother, played by an uncredited Fay Baker, but in the middle of his story, Kathy returns.
And she’s perfectly cast in this role, because she has the creepiest expression ever witnessed by human eyes. If you woke up in the middle of the night and found her staring at you, you’d instinctively reach for a weapon, or holy water and a crucifix. And maybe even a stake, if you had one handy.
This is not meant to be a slight on the actor’s looks at all, she grew up to be a very beautiful woman. All I’m saying is that stare was visually the creepiest thing about the film. It still gives me chills to this day. Good job, Janine.
Meanwhile, George and Mary are heading into town, but first, he wants to show his wife something out by the sandpit. This leads to another scary event. I mean, who wouldn’t be frightened by a sandpit sinkhole that sang a tune in the eerie vocal effect of a chorus as the swirling sand swallowed you whole?
Nothing’s been right since he saw the saucer land, so David decides to go to the police station to get help, but Police Chief Barrows (played by an uncredited Bert Freed) also has that strange puncture wound on the back of his neck. And David winds up being locked in detention until his father can pick him up.
Desk Sergeant Finlay (played by an uncredited Walter Sande) is concerned about David’s mental wellbeing and puts a call through to Dr. Pat Blake (played by Helena Carter) from the city health department.
David asks to see the back of Dr. Blake’s neck and I have to admit that for at least a solid week and a half after watching this movie, I asked to see the backs of everyone’s neck who spoke to me. They must have thought I was crazy, and they were right, just not on this occasion.
David tells Dr. Blake the entire story and in another amazing turn of events, she doesn’t automatically dismiss the boy’s claims. Instead, she calls her astronomer friend, Dr. Stuart Kelston (played by Arthur Franz) to validate David’s story.
While Dr. Blake is on the phone, Mary arrives at the station to pick up her son, and David is happy to see her, unaware that she now has that same thousand-yard stare. Then George shows up and David tries to resist them taking him home.
Re-enter Dr. Blake who stops them from taking David from the police station under the guise that the boy is showing possible signs of having the poliovirus and must be taken to the hospital isolation ward for observation.
Dr. Blake takes David to the observatory and Dr. Kelston describes a theory that the Martians have developed a race of slaves called MYU-Tants, not mutants, MYU-Tants to travel to Earth and stop us from developing space flight (which is the top-secret project that David’s father is a part of) in order to maintain an existence on their dying planet.
In a bit of lucky coincidence, they turn the telescope to David’s house and spot George MacLean leading General Mayberry (played by an uncredited William Forrest) and pushing him into the sandpit. Now Drs. Blake and Kelston are 100% on David’s side. Kelston immediately calls his contact, Colonel Fielding (played by Morris Ankrum) to get the army on the case.
Kelston postulates that the Martian ship is hiding beneath the sandpit, having used a radioactive ray that can melt right through the earth. In another stroke of coincidence, one of Fielding’s officer’s, Sergeant Rinaldi (played by Max Wagner) strikes off on his own to investigate the sandpit and gets sucked in while the military watches, offering proof that the threat is real.
Word comes through that Kathy Wilson died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage, and Dr. Blake attends the autopsy and uncovers a strange bit of technology buried in the little girl’s brain that they assume to be a mind control device. By reverse engineering the device, the military figures they stands a chance of locating the broadcast’s point of origin.
While the Army tanks are en route to the sandpit. The mind-controlled humans begin destroying facilities connected to the top secret space rocket project, and those who successfully complete their mission, die from cerebral hemorrhages due to the control crystal exploding in their heads.
Other mind-slaves are not so lucky. General Mayberry is killed while attempting to blow up a rocket scheduled for launch, and David’s parents are apprehended as they unsuccessfully try to kill one of the secret project’s top scientists, Dr. Bill Wilson (played by an uncredited Robert Shayne) who happens to be Kathy’s father. Hearing the fate of the other mind-slaves, David is naturally worried about what will happen to his parents.
The army tanks arrive and surround the field around the sandpit. Then a unit determines the approximate spot where people have been sucked into the sand, dig a hole, pack it with explosives, and blast a pathway into the Martians’ underground lair.
Dr. Blake receives a call telling her that David’s parents are on the operating table. When she walks the boy to a secluded spot to break the news to him, the pair are sucked into the sandpit and carried by MYU-Tants to the Martian Intelligence (played by and uncredited Luce Potter). The being, described as “mankind developed to its ultimate intelligence,” is interrogating them through a mind-controlled Sergeant Rinaldi and when Dr. Blake refuses to answer any questions, she is forced onto a table and the drill machine used to implant the mind-control device inches toward the nape of her neck.
Fielding, Kelston and a small detachment breach the tunnel beneath the sandpit and make their way to the Martian ship, fighting MYU-Tants along the way. They manage to save Dr. Blake before she’s enslaved but the ship is preparing for take-off, so Fielding orders his men to pack the saucer with explosives.
The problem is, David’s missing, having been carted off by Rinaldi. Fielding orders all available men to go looking for the boy.
The timer is set and starts counting down, but the MYU-Tants use the radioactive ray to seal off the tunnel leading to the escape route.
David is rescued. And he suggests using the Martian radioactive ray to burn a hole to the outside. The tension builds as the explosive timer ticks down to zero and everyone has evacuated the tunnels and are running for cover. David’s run feels like an eternity just like in a dream when you’re running for dear life and not getting anywhere. And the events of the movie are playing out over his frightened face, almost as if his life is flashing before his eyes.
That scene, expertly done, made me nervous and had me chanting under my breath for him to run!
The spaceship lifts off and explodes and David wakes up in his bed during a thunderstorm. He races to his parents’ bedroom, confused and frightened. They’re both alive and back to their normal selves. They reassure him that he was just having a bad dream, and George puts him back to bed.
But at 4:40 AM, David hears a loud noise like thunder, goes to his window, and the movie ends with him witnessing the very same flying saucer from his nightmare, slowly descending into the sandpit.
As previously mentioned, Invaders from Mars was released in 1953 just when science fiction was becoming a major Hollywood genre, adapted from John Tucker Battle’s original screenplay which was based on a nightmare that terrified his wife.
The script found its way to producer Edward L. Alperson and the original intention was to go for a 3D shoot, but the 3D craze was beginning to die down by the time filming began, so that idea was abandoned. And as it was delegated to the Saturday matinee class of space thrillers aimed at children the budget shrank to $290,000.
This meant the script needed an overhaul, so Richard Blake was brought in to downscale the global invasion into something that would fit within the tinier budget. Blake’s solution was to turn the story into a dream, a change that upset John Tucker Battle so much that he had his name removed from the credits.
I think this was a mistake on Battle’s part. Having read Battle’s 1950 revised draft, most of the key elements remained intact. All Blake did, besides adding the dream element, was tighten up the pace by removing unnecessary elements (like David’s dog, Cricket) and tweaking the initial interaction between David and his father. In Battle’s script, George MacLean, was a little gruffer about his sleep being disturbed, disbelieved David’s U-F-O sighting, and fed his son leftover flu medication to put the boy to sleep, even though David wasn’t sick. I don’t know about you, but slipping your kid a mickey finn at 4 in the morning hardly qualifies you for parent of the year, in my book. Also, the thing that leads George to investigate the sandpit in the early morning, was the disturbing noises made by their cow that was being a nosey parker on the hill. Maybe my bias is showing but I prefer Blake’s take on the story.
Again, I digress.
The film was then rushed into production in an attempt to beat George Pal’s “War of the Worlds” to theaters, making it the first feature film to show flying saucers and aliens in color.
Other budgetary changes Included Alperson hiring an all B-List cast and assigning the directing chores to William Cameron Menzies, who had directed before but was primarily known for his ingenious work on production design (a concept he practically invented) at the time.
As you can imagine, the special effects were done on the cheap. The effect of the Martian radioactive wave melting the tunnel walls was achieved by an overhead angle of oatmeal boiling in a pot, with red food coloring mixed in and shot with a red light. The cooled bubble tunnel walls were actually thousands of latex condoms blown up and pasted to the walls (and if you pay close attention, you can see them wobbling whenever anyone runs past). And the MYU-Tants were plush velour jump-suited extras with visible zipper seams running down their spines.
Jack Cosgrove created matte paintings of the MacLean house and the telescopic view of the atomic rocket, as well as glass paintings of a number of saucer interiors, including the angle down the glass tube above the Martian operating table.
The scenes of the military regiments rolling in when Colonel Fielding summoned troops to surround the sandpit, were accomplished by Edward Alperson using stock footage of a World War 2 training film on how to transport tanks by rail.
And then there was the infamous repetition of shots. In the underground tunnels leading to the Martian ship, the scenes of shuffling MYU-Tants and running soldiers are reused and disguised by flipping the scenes horizontally, to make it appear that there are more than six MYU-Tants present. The same trick is used when David’s parents attempt to flee from the army soldiers, when Rinaldi drags David out of the Martian operation room, when the soldiers open fire on a MYU-Tant and drop it in its tracks, only to have the fallen MYU-Tant rise and get shot again by reusing the same shot from seconds before, and when the army tanks open fire on the spot in the sandpit that the Martian ship is launching from.
Despite all this, one of the things that impresses me today is, even though it’s all a dream, David is somehow grounded in reality. He never overpowers an adult or goes toe to toe with a MYU-Tant. He’s constrained by the laws of physics of what a boy his age and size can do. That doesn’t make him any less a hero. His actions are responsible for mobilizing an armed response to an alien invasion and he’s in the thick of the action every step of the way. He’s a 10-year-old boy who marches with soldiers and manages to keep stride.
Once you realize that the story is being dreamed, all of the odd camerawork and effects make sense, as they added flourishes of dreamlike surrealism. David’s house was the most elaborate indoor set because it was a place he was most familiar with. Other indoor sets, the ones David hadn’t seen every day (the police station, the observatory, and the Martian saucer) were spartan, consisting of elongated structures with stark, unadorned walls, sometimes much taller than necessary to emphasize David’s smallness in the face of authority and the unknown.
Oh, I should mention Raoul Kraushaar’s curious musical score, especially the Martian chorus as people are sucked into the whirlpool of the sandpit. What’s even creepier than the eerie and foreboding melody is that fact that David and Dr. Blake can actually hear it just before the sandpit swallows them.
A year later, the film was scheduled to be released in the UK, but the run time was too short, and the dream narrative didn’t meet the demanding standards of the British film distributor, so additional footage was shot to expand the planetarium scene (causing wardrobe and background set continuity errors, not to mention new Jimmy Hunt’s growth spurt and older appearance) the U.S. ending was replaced with a more straightforward conclusion of David, Blake and Kelston seeking cover behind an army tank before the Martian saucer explodes overhead, and Dr. Blake assuring David that his parents are safe now that the Martian saucer was destroyed. This version ends in David’s bedroom, where he’s been put to bed by Kelston and Blake. Standing at his door, they wish him a good night.
In my humble opinion, the U-S ending stands head and shoulders above this, but hey, to each their own. Different bikes for different likes as they say.
Have you seen the film? If so, which version, American or British? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Nostalgia certainly plays a big part of my love for Invaders From Mars. Seeing it at a young age helped me to relate to this compelling tale set in an adult world heading into the crisis of an alien invasion, mainly because it was told from a boy’s point of view, and a good portion of the key scenes are filmed from a low angle to enhance the dramatic and visual impact. It was easy to put myself in David’s helpless shoes, and imagining how I would feel, and what could I do, if the logic of the world shifted on its axis, and the people I knew and authority figures could no longer be trusted. After the movie was over, I spent a long time thinking about how I would deal with a sandpit that became a living, sinister place that fed on humans, swallowing them whole into the bowels of the earth. I wasn’t as fortunate as David, because I didn’t know an astronomer with military connection, and I doubted that I could have convinced a single, solitary soul of the impending peril of an alien invasion that utilized our own people as weapons of mass destruction.
Which begs the question: How would the 10-year-old version of you be able to safeguard the planet? Let us know in the comments.
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The elegance palace in which I work is huge, larger than most I have seen in the city, with at least two thousand working girls at an average age of twenty-five, which is fairly decent for a bordello.
In the center of the Hostess Center, there is a big stage, where a live band sets the mood of the palace. Why a live band at a sex shop? To help break the ice. Most of the clients are intimidated when they first walk in, which means it is the hostess’s job to make them relax via a series of activities.
One such activity is the Single Mingle, where I must dance with a client if they ask me. Refusing a client a dance means I am forced to pay a penalty. To date there was only one time I was ever tempted to face being fined. It was with a client who looked old enough to have great, great, great, great grandchildren.
He kept pulling me in close by the waist and I could feel his erection poking my thigh. Hard enough to sex four women at once. But that was the only solid thing about him. His grip around my waist was feeble and he had a body tremor that he desperately tried to suppress. My guess is that he was rounding the corner on eighty and found a pill that gave him an eighteen-year-old’s erection. Problem was if I kissed him hard enough he’d have a heart attack, so instead, I danced him around until his hard-on caught up with his age and sent him on his way. I considered that my senior citizen service for the month.
Not all of my clients are one-offs, though. I have a regular, a blind man, and if it is possible for a woman in my line of work to have a favorite, then he is mine. A hassle-free man that I do not have to dress up in silly costumes for or pretend to be someone else. Our sessions are almost always the same. Short, but sincere small talk, followed by kissing and heavy petting, then a massage followed by a leg hump in cowgirl position until he ejaculated. The very first time I put his erection between my lubricated thighs and moved up and down for several minutes, he exploded easily.
When it was over, he asked, “Did you use a rubber?”
“No, I didn’t.”
It caught me off guard, the way he asked. If I am being honest, I felt a little insulted that he thought I was so filthy that he could contract a disease from me from a simple leg hump. I wanted to tell him what I pack is far worse than any STD he could ever imagine.
“Is it really all right with you?” he asked.
Then I understood. He thought he was inside me. I chuckled and explained who I was, what I was capable of and what I actually did.
“Taking advantage of a blind man, eh?” If he was hurt, I could not detect it.
“That is not it at all. You did not know who I was. You did not come here looking to beat the odds or for an easy way to die. You did not judge me based on my appearance. I was not a spectacle. So, what I gave you was pleasure and allowed you to keep your life.”
He reached out for my hand and I took his. “I’m not sure how happy I am being deceived like that, but it felt real. The best I’ve ever had.”
And the damnedest thing happened. Despite the fact that I sell sex and death for money and I hate my job, this blind man paid me a compliment that made me feel good about myself. Pathetic, I know, but you have to take the good bits as they come.
And for the record, for all you that might think a leg hump is lazy, let me tell you that it is more work and harder to make a man ejaculate than either manual or oral stimulation.
Now, I hear you asking, “If you can do all this then why do you kill so many men?”
Human men die because human men are stupid! I offer them options but they always want what is worst for them. Who wants any other orifice when they have access to a taboo killer vagina?