Monday, October 26, 2015

Young Fears 26: The War of the Worlds

Each October I like to run a series of Halloween-themed posts on this blog. All this month, I'll be telling anecdotes about things which frightened me while growing up.

Ah, cable television, an outlet to worlds beyond the mere confines of what came over broadcast television and what my parents were willing to rent from the video store. But then, who would complain about The War of the Worlds 1953 film by George Pal? This was one my parents happily watched with me and it caused a minor sensation in my imagination as I sought out my own copy of the H.G. Wells novel. Better still, it led to my father sharing his two-record copy of the 1938 Mercury Theater on the Air adaptation by Orson Welles, proving an important moment in the development of my interest in old-time radio.

Depictions of the Martians may have varied from one adaptation to another, but to this day the only one which freaks me out is the 1953 film version and I'm not convinced my youth is the reason why. Pal showed his creatures only briefly and the Martian's sudden appearance gives an electrifying jolt because it's both unexpected and, obviously, quite inhuman what with the Simon Says board it has for a face. Even as I went to add the image of the Martian you see above I had to repress a shudder. For 1953, that is a mighty monstrous Martian.

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