POSTED BY JON STRIPPOLI, October 31, 2013 Share
Halloween is the start of the best season of the year. And a wonderful start it is! For one night a year everyone can take a step back and openly admit that it's awesome and fun to dress up in costumes and hang with your buddies. It's the beginning of a season of traditions and for me and my family it's a time to gather around the TV and watch the first holiday the med movie of the year. What movie is that? Spaced Invaders.
I LOVE Spaced Invaders. I've been watching it since I was a wee little Jon, and seeing as it was released in 1990, I may have even seen it in theaters (or at least I like to remember that it happened). The movie follows a crew of screw ups from the Martian Space Navy who, by chance, intercept a broadcast of Orson Welles' radio drama "War of the Worlds" and misinterpret it as a call for invasion! They follow the broadcast to a rural town in Illinois and crash into the barn of the local curmudgeon farmer (played by Royal Dano, which is a bad ass name) who's going through foreclosure due to a bad deal with the town douchelord (Gregg Berger, the guy who voiced The Gromble on Aahhh!!! Real Monsters). Meanwhile, the town's new sheriff (Douglas Barr), a transplant from L.A., is trying to help his daughter (Ariana Richards of Tremors and Jurassic Park fame), a special effects prodigy, cope with the comparably mundane small town atmosphere. Dressed as an alien akin to the one from Alien, the daughter becomes quick friends with the only black kid in town (dressed as a duck for 80% of the movie) and the two just happen to stumble into the Martians and all kinds of hijinks and hilarity ensue. 90's style! Meanwhile, there's a series problem with the Martian Space Navy's mandatory killer robot arbitors (one of which is on the ship of our intrepid protagonists). You see, these arbitors lean heavily toward the "killer" end of their programming and are known to just slaughter entire crews for the slightest of fuck-ups. So the Martian crew teams up with the kids, sheriff, and (new-found friend) farmer to get off world and just forget about the whole mix-up. In the end everyone gets what they want/deserve and a great time is had by all. Audience included.
A movie like this was a magnet for my attention as a kid. It has everything! Laughs, suspense, explosions, and most importantly, aliens. I loved (and still do love) practical special effects, especially involving creatures and aliens. The Martian masks used in Spaced Invaders are fantastic and play off of classic Martian tropes including green, leathery skin and diddly bops on top of their heads. You can tell that the majority of the budget went into making the Martians; everything from their animatronic faces to the interiors of their space ships are all well designed and alien enough to be interesting. The Space Navy's flagships look like giant cacti in space! The killer robot arbitor looks awesome and terrifying (in a PG way) as it's seemingly inspired by a mix of a horseshoe crab and a daddy longlegs spider with two large glowing eyes and a deep, monotone voice. There's even a giant robot made from farm equipment that trashes a red neck posse. Come on. You know you want to see that.
The acting probably can't be classified as "great", but it is, however, one of the rare occasions where the child actors are actually really good. Which is always nice. The Martians (physically portrayed by little people) all have distinctive and fitting voice actors to accompany their animatronic faces. And all of them are memorable! The pilot is doing an amazing Jack Nicholson the whole movie, and god damn it, it is just wonderful. As for the adult actors, it seems like Mr. Dano and Mr. Berger threw themselves into their roles the most. You can really feel the desperation and loneliness of Dano's farmer and are instantly and continuously aware of how douchey someone can be thanks to Berger's character. I'll never forget him handing kids full packs of cigarettes while dressed as Hulk Hogan. I'll have to wag my finger at Mr. Barr for being a pretty bland, stock dad character. He could have added some pizzazz.
On a scale of 1-5, I give Spaced Invaders a solid 4 even today. I basically grew up watching this movie EVERY Halloween. Not many people I've met have even heard of it, let alone seen it, which is pretty odd considering it made almost its entire budget of $5M back opening weekend. If you're one of those that hasn't seen it I highly recommend that you give it a view.
"The Real Life Adventures of Jon Strippoli" is ©2013 by Jon Strippoli. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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