Reviews

War Of The Worlds (Special Edition)

3

Winner of the Best Visual Effects Oscar, George Pal's glorious three-strip Technicolor production of HG Wells' sci-fi classic contains a punchy period charm missing from Spielberg's version as well as a touch more dramatic tension.

Made during the McCarthy witch-hunt with overt Commie overtones and the action transposed to '50s California, the result may have dated, but the scenes of LA's destruction pack a surprisingly unsettling punch, even if the wires supporting the manta ray-like machines are all too visible.

The Martians themselves, ridiculous though they appear now, seem to share DNA with Spielberg's ET and were cooked up overnight from chicken wire, plaster and spit, according to the Making Of, which also includes footage of Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion Martians from his unproduced version.

 

The rest of the extras are rather a mixed bunch, with a couple of passable yak-tracks (one with stars Gene Barry and Anne Robinson) and a passable HG Wells documentary that overlaps with the one on the Spielberg disc. Best, though, is Orson Welles' legendary 1938 radio adaptation, which has a crackly, hyperreal menace all of its own.

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