Just ahead of it’s 70th anniversary, the 1953 sci-fi film Invaders From Mars from William Cameron Menzies, is out today on Blu-ray and 4K UHD from Ignite Films. The star of the film, Jimmy Hunt, who played young David MacLean, sat down with Cherry the Geek TV, to talk about the film, the restoration, and his life as a child actor in Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s. You can watch the full interview here:
Invaders from Mars is a starkly stylish sci-fi tale told from a pre-adolescent boy’s point of view, as he alone witnesses the invasion of aliens who capture and brainwash residents of an average small town. Young David MacLean (Hunt) is convinced that his normal suburban neighborhood has been invaded by strange creatures, especially when his parents come home acting like zombies. Nobody believes him. Things get stranger until somebody finally believes: Dr. Pat Blake (Helena Carter) and astronomer Stuart Kelston (Arthur Franz). Stuart takes David seriously and informs them that prominent scientists have theorized that Martians, who live either underground on Mars or in giant spaceships, have manufactured synthetic humans called Mutax. Stuart speculates that Martians have come to Earth because local scientists including David’s father, have constructed a rocket that will eventually pave the way for a devastating weapon that could control the solar system. Stuart postulates that the Martians will attempt to destroy the rocket and alerts Col. Fielding at a nearby military installation. Fielding notifies the Pentagon and soon massive numbers of men and tanks begin to mobilize toward David’s small town.
The new disc has some amazing bonus features:
- Restored 4K original 1953 trailer AND a newly commissioned trailer 2022
- Interviews with star Jimmy Hunt, William Cameron Menzies’ biographer James Curtis and recollections of Menzies’ eldest granddaughter Pamela Lauesen
- Featurette with acclaimed film directors John Landis, Joe Dante, editor Mark Goldblatt, special visual effects artist and two time Oscar Winner Robert Skotak (foremost expert on Invaders from Mars), and enthusiast and film preservationist Scott MacQueen
- John Sayles’ introduction at Turner Classic Movie Festival in Hollywood, April 2022
- Before/after clips of restoration – original negative and archival film elements – with film restoration supervisor Scott MacQueen
- Restored segments in 2K of the Alternate International Version — alternative ending and extended Planetarium scene
- Gallery with original Press Book pages, behind the scenes photos from the restoration process
- 20 page extensive essay on the restoration process: “Invaders From Mars: A Nightmare of Restoration” by Scott MacQueen
The restored version screened earlier this year at the Turner Classic Movie Festival in Hollywood, as well as Cinecon, where Hunt was honored with the Cinecon Legacy Award.
The restoration of Invaders from Mars has been much hoped for and a long time coming — but the process was not an easy one. Leading the effort was longtime enthusiast and preservationist of classic cinema Scott MacQueen, who previously was head of preservation at UCLA Film & Television Archive for more than a decade, before retiring in 2021.
The biggest challenge for MacQueen was that the color negative confirmed for printing in SUPERcineCOLOR lacked many shots and needed to be sourced from 70-year-old prints.
“Invaders from Mars was one of the most complex projects I have ever undertaken,” said Restoration Supervisor Scott MacQueen.
“In the days of analog restoration, it would not have been possible, but 21st century digital tools have been game-changers. Released in an archaic process that is irretrievable today Invaders from Mars was pieced together from five different sources. Additionally, eight minutes of European scenes and an alternate ending, and the original trailer, have been preserved. As star Jimmy Hunt says, ‘Invaders from Mars has never looked so good,’” added MacQueen.
The 4K restoration process of the sci-fi classic Invaders from Mars required a lengthy search for the final elements, which was conducted by Ignite’s Janet Schorer. Additionally, it was imperative to locate the elements necessary to fill in the gaps in the original camera negative, which was stored with great care at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The George Eastman Museum and National Film and Sound Archive of Australia were instrumental in supplying additional key elements which were essential to completing the film.
Ignite Films will initially release the 4K restoration of Invaders From Mars in US/Region 1 on September 26, and will roll-out the release worldwide, excluding the UK, where Arrow Films will distribute. The Big Pieces Company is supporting the release in the US and overseeing international sales. Pre-order Link: https://www.ignite-films.com/products/invaders-from-mars