‘War of the Worlds’: Comparing 1953, 1988, 2008 Iterations
Comparing 3 different versions of War of the Worlds. They’re all a little bit different, but also share some common bonds.
Released in 2008, C. Thomas Howell’s War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave was all but totally destined to get plenty of hate, which it has. However, I’m not interested in piling on additional critiques of this film (produced by The Asylum, of Sharknado fame). Instead, I’m going to mildly compare and contrast it with certain elements from Byron Haskin’s 1953 film, as well as Greg Strangis’ 1988 War of the Worlds TV series.
Admittedly, I am not the foremost expert on The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, and I haven’t seen many of the other films or TV adaptions (including the Tom Cruise movies). However, I am interested in many of the themes in the versions I have seen.
Common Ground Characters and Traits in The War of the Worlds
Basically, all of these War of the Worlds adaptations depict humans as semi-prepared at best, albeit often armed. Due to the advanced alien technology and the cruelty of the creatures, people quickly become refugees to their own cities. The aliens rarely show any mercy, assuring that, if they have their way, the earth will be wiped clean of people, and possibly also the buildings.
In War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave, the main character is named George Herbert (Howell), which is a play on H. G. Wells’. Like Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) in the 1953 film, he represents human scientific knowledge and how it can be employed to undermine and destroy the alien menace.
In the TV series (which I’ve written about elsewhere), there’s an equally valiant science-minded team; quirky Astrophysicist Dr. Harrison Blackwood (Jared Martin), Microbiologist Dr. Suzanne McCullough (Lynda Mason Green), and computer genius Norton Drake (Philip Akin). Their efforts are augmented by teammate Lt. Col. Paul Ironhorse (Richard Chaves), who’s more interested in greeting an alien by shooting its legs off, rather than researching it or reaching a peaceful settlement (though, over the course of the first season, there are moments where he appreciates the scientific angle as much as the military one).
Interestingly, the TV series managed to get Ann Robinson to reprise her role as Sylvia van Buren, a character from the 1953 film. Her character is pretty strange, however, as she has some weird psychic powers and lives in some sort of mental hospital. Then again, it is an odd series, so it took a few unique turns here and there, including with the aliens themselves.
The Aliens Themselves
The War of the Worlds stories all have interesting variations on the aliens. The TV series and the 1953 film have the same kind of bad-ass alien attack ships, with stylish, swan-like necks that shoot out heat-rays that disintegrate anything they touch. However, it’s often suggested by fans that the film still hints at the ships being Tripods, rather than truly flying. The TV series makes it seem like they fly independently. War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave gives them an entirely different look, whether it’s appreciated or not by viewers. ‘
As one might expect, the TV series focuses more on the aliens themselves, whereas these movies only hint at the alien’s strange lives. In 1953, bacteria seemed to kill the aliens, suggesting humans might not have had a chance otherwise.
In 1988, they are still prone to getting sick but find ways around it, and Blackwood and crew spend considerable time tracking and subverting the alien’s efforts at conquering the populace (and, as it turns out, the more froglike aliens can also take over human bodies, which makes them even more creepy).
C. Thomas Howell’s effort works more like Independence Day, as the story seems to involve a base that controls the tripods. Of all of these depictions, the TV series is my favorite, as the aliens function almost as parasites that have started infecting the human race, taking over their bodies, and potentially making us suspect apparent survivors. It also focuses on the prolonged scientific efforts of a team of exobiologists who, ultimately, must also fight what they are studying.
Why “War of the Worlds” Will Keep Coming Back
Some versions of War of the Worlds are better than others, obviously. However, the overarching story is very fertile ground for remakes, reboots, and re-whatever. The sky’s the limit when it comes to future concepts. One could spend years studying the tripods, and the aliens, to know how to kill them. Even if the aliens are defeated, there can always be some crackpots believing that the aliens will return, warning us like “Crazy Ralph” from the original Friday the 13th.
Future installments might re-emphasize a body-snatcher angle, where frog-like Martians go around replacing people. Humans can be gravely wounded, in dwindling supply, or maybe we’ll end up totally kicking ass like Will Smith famously did. However, people envision it, War of the Worlds (and stories that rip it off) will follow us as we head into the next hundred years.
And yes, humans probably will make it another 100 years, at least. We might not have it all together, but we are stubborn as a whole. We might readily conquer and destroy ourselves, but will we happily let Martians in on that action? Hell no!
What are your thoughts on War of the Worlds? Let us know in the comments!
1971’s ‘The Corpse Grinders’ is purrrfect
Have you ever wanted a movie from the 70’s where a woman gets home from work, strips down to lingerie to lounge on her couch, only to be killed and eaten by her cat?
Of course, you’re a regular human, just like the rest of us. Who doesn’t fantasize about that?
Well, kids, I found us that perfect movie in the salacious and groovy Arch Hall Sr. film, THE CORPSE GRINDERS.
The Plot of The Corpse Grinders:
Corruption! Capitalism! Murder! Fake-ass sign language! Cats! This movie has IT ALL.
Partnering with a couple who owns a cemetery, they begin grinding up the mystery meat and sell it to unsuspecting consumers. But the consumers begin to be consumed themselves (that’s my best joke of the year, you’re welcome), a veterinarian begins to investigate the reason why our feline friends have turned feral.
Can this nefarious plot be found out in time by investigators? And by “investigators”, I mean, literally just this veterinarian and some nurse. Or will they too become victims in the feeding frenzy?
Thoughts on The Corpse Grinders:
This was only written by Arch Hall Sr. and not directed, but honestly, for being a low-budget comedy-horror, it cements him as a cult classic icon. Probably known most for Eegah, of MST3K infamy, he wrote and directed many camp movies during the 60’s and 70’s. Usually to showcase his son’s, er…talents.
But he legitimately had some fun ideas and execution, especially when someone else was in the director’s chair. THE CORPSE GRINDERS is fun and exciting schlock, a feast for the eyes in its limited cinematography, acting, and lighting.
And call this a hot take, but I think THE CORPSE GRINDERS would have made a better edition to MST3K than Eegah did because it works so incredibly well as campy horror. There’s a lot of honest humor in it, but metric tons of things to poke fun of and riff.
So, I have two brainrolls.
First, give me the rights. Gimme. Because this movie is RIPE for a reboot. Yes, that’s right. Not Pinhead, not Chucky, not gay icon Chucky – no! Corpse Grinders is a perfect example of something with enough cheese, enough spark, and enough of a story that still gels. With the right writers, director and cinematographer, this could really be a great reboot.
And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – reboot movies like THIS. Old, beat-up movies with enough spit and polish to be fun and enjoyable. Something you could add to with more budget, technology and direction. Stop, please, stop making ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ part 24. It’s done, it’s old, lie those types to rest and focus on movies that kind of sucked but would be phenomenal after time has passed.
The second is, um…American Sign Language (?) in the film. Which, okay, I’m a million percent with having those with disabilities shown on screen. I love it. Gimme 2.0. But…But why this, specifically?
We have a side character who is Deaf, but…um…the ASL is, well…
Remember that séance scene from Wild World of Batwoman? Yeah. It’s on par with that.
In MY new Corpse Grinders, she’s going to have a much wider role and actually be a Deaf actress and not…whatever that was. Because you took a cool idea and made it incredibly offensive. So, six of one and half-dozen of the other.
If you love campy fun movies about cats eating people and-…
Jellybeans, what are you doing?
helloo itsme branyl i wriet horro movis nd not a jellllllybens cAt. can i haz humnbrger?(4 / 5)
February Titles for Arrow Streaming
Wow, January sure flew by fast! But guess what? It’s time to see what goodies Arrow is bringing to the small screen soon. Let’s find out!
Feb 3rd: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA
February 3 Joyce documentaries about the American indie film scene: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA (both US/UK/CA/IRE). Joyce’s documentary profile of Altman, originally produced in 1996 includes contributions from Altman, Elliott Gould, Shelley Duvall, assistant director Alan Rudolph and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury.
Feb 3rd: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster
February 3: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster (UK/IRE/US/CA). Triple-threat writer-producer-director Charles Band has been pulling the strings making horror, sci-fi and fantasy features since the 70s and his films were a massive part of making the 1980s home video boom, well, boom.
Charles Band: The Puppetmaster brings together many of his wildest and most fun work, from murderous pint-sized puppets to re-animated horrors, from time-travelling Trancers to a terrifying Tourist Trap, and even the re-tooled Doctor Strange movie starring Jeffrey Combs as a slightly different sorcerer supreme. And I LOVE Jeffrey Combs!
Titles Include: Puppet Master, Doctor Mordrid, Trancers.
Feb 6: Killer Tech
February 6, while shopping for a gadget for your sweetheart, ARROW uploads Killer Tech (UK/IRE/US/CA) to the service.
We all want the latest gadgets, but in Killer Tech screen time means scream time.
From cursed videotapes and phone calls to the dangers of the dark web and vicious virtual reality, ARROW’s newest, smallest, lightest, fastest, most expensive curated collection doesn’t just have the best screen, largest amount of storage and the coolest camera – it also comes with a guarantee that the newest tech equals instant death.
Titles Include: .com For Murder, Laguna Ave, Edge of the Axe.
I recommend Edge of the Axe!
Feb 10: Cinematic Void Selects
February 10, ARROW hands the keys to the kingdom to Cinematic Void, a Los Angeles-based cult film screening series into the mouth of cinemadness. Focusing on all oddball gems of all genres, the Void unleashes an onslaught of horror, eurotrash, exploitation and gonzo action on the silver screen at the American Cinematheque. CV film programmer Jim Branscome has selected a few of his favourite films of the genre for your viewing pleasure in Cinematic Void Selects.
Titles Include: Deadly Games, Deep Red.
February 14 celebrates Valentine’s Day with the perfect pairing: the undead and the living dead.
Two Orphan Vampires (UK/IRE/US): A pair of teenage girls, who are blind by day, but when the sun goes down, they roam the streets to quench their thirst for blood.
Zombie Lake (UK/IRE/US): In a small village, somewhere in France, German soldiers, killed and thrown into the lake by the Resistance during WWII, come back.
Also Valentine’s Day:
Jean Rollin: The Fantastique Collection Part IV (UK/IRE/US).
Led by the brand new and exclusive documentary from filmmakers Kat Ellinger and Dima Ballin, Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World Of Jean Rollin, welcome to ARROW’s final volume of horrifying dream-like sauce from the master of conjuring up erotic nightmare fuel, Jean Rollin, The Fantastique Collection Part IV.
Titles Include: The Living Dead Girl, Lost in New York, Dracula’s Fiancee.
Feb 17: The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol
February 17, with The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol (UK/IRE/US).
For five decades Claude Chabrol navigated the unpredictable waters of cinema, leaving in his wake more than fifty feature films that remain among the most quietly devastating genre movies ever made. Sardonic, provocative, and unsettling, Chabrol’s films cut to the quick with a clarity and honesty honed to razor sharpness.
Though influenced by Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir, Chabrol’s voice was entirely and assuredly his own, influencing in turn filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho, James Gray and Dominik Moll. His amused, unblinkered view of life and refusal to judge his characters makes his films timelessly relevant and accessible to all.
Dark, witty, ruthless, mischievous: if you’ve never seen Chabrol before, you’re in for a treat.
Titles Include: Cop au vin, Madame Bovary (1991), The Swindle.
Feb 24: King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection
February 24 hits it off with King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection (UK/IRE/US/CA).
Put up your dukes and prepare yourselves for brutal and lightning-fast martial arts action starring the King of Karate: Sonny Chiba.
Whether you’ve only heard of Sonny through Clarence and Alabama’s True Romance triple-bill, have seen him sword-making for The Bride in Kill Bill, or know Shinichi Chiba from way back in the 70s martial arts boom where his lethal mastery of karate, judo and kenpo made him an in-demand anti-hero to legions of fans, there’s plenty of bruising bad-assery to be had in King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection.
Titles Include: The Street Fighter, Wolf Guy, Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Hiroshima Death Match.
Feb 28: Millionaires’ Express
February 28 closes out the shortest month of the year with Millionaires’ Express (US/CA).
All aboard for the all-star action-packed adventure of a lifetime as martial arts maestro Sammo Hung (Heart of Dragon) brings East and West crashing spectacularly together in Millionaires’ Express!
Sammo himself plays Ching Fong-tin, a former outlaw with a wild scheme to make amends with the citizens of his struggling hometown of Hon Sui: explosively derail a brand new luxury express train en route from Shanghai so that its super-rich passengers will have no choice but to spend money in the town. He’s not the only one with eyes on the passengers’ deep pockets, however; a gang of ruthless bank-robbing bandits are on the way, looking for a priceless map being guarded by a trio of Japanese samurai. Bullets and fists will fill the air in equal measure, but will Hon Sui Town be left standing?
Head over to ARROW to start watching now.
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ARROWEssentials curates collections based on genre, decades and themes; and ARROWStories takes a fresh look at the world of film and TV with exclusive documentaries, interviews and video essays diving deeper into the many curated seasons and titles on the platform for a richer and deeper viewing experience.
With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface, and an unparalleled roster of quality content from westerns to giallo to Asian cinema, trailers, Midnight Movies, filmmaker picks and much, much more, ARROW is the place to go for the very best in on-demand entertainment.
ARROW is also home to ARROW Stories – an ever-growing collection of interviews, trailers, documentaries and additional extras, both newly created exclusives for the service and from the company’s extensive archives. The service will be updated regularly with fresh content, new curation focuses and never-before-seen content, all selected by the ARROW team as well as the filmmakers themselves. With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface ARROW is the new alternative place to go for the very best in On-Demand entertainment.
Be on the look-out because in the coming months, ARROW will be adding Oscar-winning hits, European classics, Asian cinema masterworks, rediscovered Westerns, offbeat gems and much more as part of ARROW’s international strategy to support and celebrate the medium of film.
Dahmer, The Good Boy Box
I think if it were possible to awkward someone to death, Dahmer never would have had to use any other weapon. Because if episode four is any indication, the man was a walking personification of awkwardness.
We start this episode with Dahmer talking with the police detectives after his arrest. He doesn’t seem to have any issue laying everything out for them, starting with the murder of the hitchhiker from the last episode. He’s seeing a psychiatrist, which feels overdue. And the psychiatrist is bringing back some memories. Starting with his graduation from high school.
A few days after graduation, Lionel Dahmer finally decides to look in on his family. He comes home to find no one but Jeff there, drunk and scribbling out the faces of his classmates from his yearbook.
After taking some time to blame Joyce, Lionel sets himself to the task of fixing his son. He first sends Jeff to Ohio State. Within a semester, Jeff is expelled with a GPA of .45. So, Lionel sends him to the army. And for about a year, that seems to work out. Jeff goes through basic training and everything is fine. But then, he’s discharged.
It’s not outright said in the show why Dahmer was discharged. He later tells a woman that it was because of his drinking. But he lies and gives half-truths to everyone without any remorse. So there’s no way of knowing.
Finally, we pick back up where we left off a few episodes ago, with Jeff’s grandmother finding the stolen mannequin in his bed. She throws it away, and he starts to unravel.
He goes to a state fair and gets arrested for masturbating in public.
Honestly, there are a lot of masturbation scenes in this episode and the last. Probably more than we needed.
Every time Jeff seems to get some sort of handle on his life, he manages to mess it up. He loses jobs and starts drugging men at bars. Finally, he finds himself in bed with the body of a beautiful young man he brought home the night before.
I liked this episode. It was a deeply disturbing portrait of a mentally ill young man trying and failing to get himself together. It’s easy to feel bad for Dahmer. To feel like there should have been a way to save him from himself.
And there should have been, to be clear. Dahmer was throwing up enough red flags early enough that someone should have been able to do something.
And yet, nobody did until seventeen men were dead. It does make you wonder if it would have gone on so long if Dahmer hadn’t preyed on gay men. If he hadn’t been a white man. And maybe it should make us wonder that.
I’m sure this point will be made clear to us as we watch the second half of the season.(4 / 5)
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