Still get the creeps hearing that eerie music as people get sucked down to the underworld. Telling the story from a child’s point of view enhances the horror in Invaders From Mars. It also helps make a simple plot, and the earnestness of the ‘good guys’–the doctor, the scientist, and the colonel–more acceptable and believable.
The sergeant disappearing into the sand, as he desperately grabs the fence rail and shoots off his rifle, remains one my earliest recollections from classic sci-fi. The dream premise is aptly created by the expressionistic Martian caves and spaceship, as well as the Kafka-esque police station.
The ending hints at a further or revolving nightmare, as we’re shown that the boy, after his dream, really does see the spaceship. Or is it just a thunderstorm? The taut pacing stirs fear, panic, and a sense of urgency amongst the characters.
Having said all that, I came away this time wishing that the Martian scenes had begun earlier. There’s plenty going on throughout, but it might have been more interesting to ‘drop-in’ on the Martians along with their first victims.
Invaders From Mars influenced many subsequent sci-fi films, most obviously Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It could use a few more scenes, but not many films of this type can match the truly alien atmosphere. 8/10.