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“That’s the darndest thing I ever saw. The way that thing’s unscrewing.” It sounds just like a metal lid on a mason jar. Join this episode’s Grue-Crew – Chad Hunt, Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff, Jeff Mohr, and special guest host Dave Dreher – as they discuss another science fiction horror classic of the 1950s, H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds (1953).
Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 125 – The War of the Worlds (1953)
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A small town in California is attacked by Martians, beginning a worldwide invasion.-IMDb
- Director: Byron Haskin
- Writer: Barré Lyndon (screenplay by); H.G. Wells (based on the 1897 novel by)
- Producer: George Pal
- Film Editing: Everett Douglas
- Sound Department: Loren L. Ryder (sound director) (uncredited)
- Makeup Department: Wally Westmore (makeup supervisor)
- Art Direction: Albert Nozaki, Hal Pereira
- Art Department: Chesley Bonestell (astronomical art)
- Special Effects:
- Chester Pate (special effects) (uncredited)
- Bob Springfield (special effects) (uncredited)
- Ken Strickfaden (special effects electrician) (uncredited)
- A. Edward Sutherland (special effects) (uncredited)
- Barney Wolff (special effects) (uncredited)
- Visual Effects:
- Gordon Jennings (special photographic effects)
- Marcel Delgado (miniatures)(uncredited)
- Costume and Wardrobe Department:
- Charles Gemora (costume maker: Martian costumes) (uncredited)
- Diana Gemora (costume maker: Martian costume) (uncredited)
- Selected Cast
- Gene Barry as Dr. Clayton Forrester
- Ann Robinson as Sylvia van Buren
- Les Tremayne as Major General Mann
- Robert Cornthwaite as Dr. Pryor
- Sandro Giglio as Dr. Bilderbeck
- Lewis Martin as Pastor Dr. Matthew Collins
- Housely Stevenson Jr. as General Mann’s aide
- Paul Frees as Radio reporter / Narrator (voice)
- William Phipps as Wash Perry (as Bill Phipps)
- Vernon Rich as Colonel Ralph Heffner
- Henry Brandon as Cop at crash
- Jack Kruschen as Salvatore
- Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Commentator (voice)
- Charles Gemora as Martian (uncredited)
- Carolyn Jones as Blonde Party Guest (uncredited)
- Alvy Moore as Zippy (uncredited)
- George Pal as Bum #1 Listening to Radio (uncredited)
- James Seay as Air Force Bomber Pilot (uncredited)
- Paul Birch as Alonzo Hogue (uncredited)
This early-50s gem from producer George Pal features excellent special effects and unique plot elements for the time. Jeff has been an H.G. Wells fan since he was a tyke so it’s no surprise that The War of the Worlds is his pick. Even so, he was a bit put off the first time he saw it, wondering where the Martians’ tripods were. Once he got over that change in Wells’ story, he fell in love with the film, observing that many of the cast and crew tackled this endeavor early in their careers. He is especially impressed with Gene Barry’s performance.
Dave recounts his grandfather telling him about the Orson Welles adaptation of this story for radio and how this film version blew him away. The effects in The War of the Worlds are outstanding for the time and still amaze him. It looks so good when the Martian ships are destroying the city. Daphne also really loves The War of the Worlds and is really impressed with the color. She is also surprised when the darkness of society surfaces with the mob attacking the trucks. When he was a kid, The War of the Worlds was pretty creepy, scary stuff to Chad and kept him on the edge of his seat. The idea of a story with no superhero-type leading man and no hope in sight fascinated him.
If you’re as impressed with The War of the Worlds as your Grue-Crew, it’s high time you checked it out again. If you’ve managed to miss this true classic, it’s high time you filled that gap. At the time of this writing, The War of the Worlds is available to stream from Amazon Prime, Paramount+, and multiple other subscription or PPV streaming services. If physical media is your thing, a Blu-ray is available from Criterion.
If you’re an H.G. Wells fan, check out these other Decades of Horror podcast episodes:
- Dead Of Night (1945) – Episode 31 – Decades Of Horror: The Classic Era (The Golfer’s Story segment based on “The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost” by H. G. Wells)
- The Invisible Man (1933) – Episode 50 – Decades Of Horror: The Classic Era
- Island Of Lost Souls (1932) – Episode 98 – Decades Of Horror: The Classic Era
- Food Of The Gods (1976) — Episode 28 — Decades Of Horror 1970s
Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era records a new episode every two weeks. Up next in their very flexible schedule is one chosen by Daphne: Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968), a unique take on vampires!
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