In 1962, Topps put out a card series called Mars Attacks! Kids loved them. Why wouldn’t they? Every card shows horrific depictions of humans, Martians and animals shredded, blasted and annihilated into oblivion, along with plenty of implied sexuality. Parents went crazy and the cards were pulled from the market, but not the memories of the monster kids who dug them so much. 34 years later, Tim Burton finally succeeded in bringing it to the silver screen.
This is a star-studded affair that seems to delight in massacring every actor it gets its hands on. Imagine the star-studded Irwin Allen disaster movies of the past, but put in aliens with laser guns shooting everything and anything in their path. Want to see Jack Nicholson die twice as two different characters? This movie has you covered. Interested in seeing Glenn Close get murdered by a falling chandelier? Tune in. How about seeing Jack Black get blasted into a glowing skeleton? This is the only movie I can think of where that happens.
The Martians are the real stars here, making duck like noises and going bonkers when doves of peace are released, they slaughter everyone in their path, including Michael J. Fox. They take his girlfriend Nathalie Lake — and her pet chihuahua — hostage and switch the heads of her and her mutt. Oh yeah — they also behead Pierce Brosnan and hang his head upon a line, keeping him alive.
To say this movie is ridiculous is an understatement. Kids who love video games end up being our nation’s greatest hope. A nuclear attack is turned into a hit on a Martian bong. Jim Brown plays a boxer — who has Pam Grier as his ex-wife, of course — who is dressed as an Egyptian and who knocks out aliens throughout Las Vegas along with Tom Jones. And the real secret to defeating the Martian menace? Slim Whitman’s voice.
I love that this movie reduces casting to “Can you get us someone like Jim Brown,” and then they just got Jim Brown. Joe Don Bake, Martin Short and Rod Steiger even show up!
Interestingly enough, in 1982, Howard Stern did a sketch during the first week he was on the air at WNBC. In “Slim Whitman Versus the Midget Aliens From Mars”, Whitman’s singing was used as a weapon against invading aliens. Years later, when Tim Burton was on the show, Stern told him about the sketch and Burton replied, “You should have sued me.” Perhaps that’s why Eric the Actor was always taunted with the music and “Ack! Ack! Ack!” Martian language from this movie.